Who do I pay rent to? | The Tenants' Voice
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Who do I pay rent to?

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541 views 1 replies latest reply: 07 March 2016

Hello everyone,

Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated.

I have an AST with a private LL via a LA. The fixed term is 12 months and I am 6 months into it. The AST I have is signed by the LA (even though I know it is between me the LL) and my deposit is protected under a custodial scheme under the LA name. I pay rent on a monthly basis via standing order, and have done so meticulously with no late payments or missing payments.

I was contacted by the LA, last week via telephone, to inform me that the LL (for reasons I am not going to go into) is no longer in a position to pay their mortgage and so the lender will, at some point take possession the the house. The LA told me that at any point the lender could turn up at the property and change the locks on my rented property (I know this to be rubbish). At this point I have not been served with any formal notice of repossession by the lender or any eviction notice (like a section 21) from the LL/LA. I have had no contact with the LL either and all the LA has ignored emails in the past, avoided email communication where possible preferencing telephone calls and I believe withheld information from me. 

The LA and I have been unable to agree to the terms or date of a mutual surrender, and beacuse of this the LA has decided to pull out of dealing with either me or the LL regarding the matter citing the trouble it has caused the LA, and therefore will no longer act as the LA for either the LL or I. The LA has refused to provide an email as documentary evidence of this when asked.

I am now in the position that I do not know who to pay my rent to for the next standing order. Do I pay the LA or the LL? Someone I know has suggested that I write to the LL and LA and state that I am going to hold back rent (not withhold) until I am informed who I should pay rent to? It was suggested this letter would be admissible and defensible in court, but I’m not sure. Also in respect to my deposit, what happens now that the LA has (or so I am lead to believe) resolved to remove their interest from the situation, as it (the deposit) is held in their name and not the LL’s? Lastly someone I know has advised contacting the lender to ask whether of not the tenancy agreement I have with them is binding on them as the lender or not. Am I allowed to do this and is it legally defensible? The land registery has the lender down as Bank of Scotland PLC but this comprises several separate commercial banks, can I find out which one the LL has their mortgage with?

Thank-you in advance!

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Your tenancy agreement is always with the landlord – have a look at it again and see who the other party is. It’s not possible for the letting agent to be the other party on your tenancy as the letting agent does not own the property. All they do is act on behalf of the landlord, following the landlord’s instructions.

You need to work out whether your tenancy is binding on the lender – if they have repossessed the property then it’s they who now own it – there a guide on how to do that here. As long as the tenancy is binding on the lender (i.e. they knew about it) then they still have to give you notice before you can be removed. If the tenancy is binding then the lender still needs a possession order to remove you or it will be an illegal eviction – which most lenders will want to avoid.

In terms of the agent, they sound pretty incompetent. Don’t bother dealing with them anymore other than to make a formal complaint about them – make direct contact with the landlord instead (address should be on the tenancy agreement or you can search the Land Registry to find out who owns the property) and try to get more information from them. Personally, I would complain about the agency, first to the agency themselves and then to any professional bodies they are a member of (ARLA, Property Ombudsman) – you might be able to get help and compensation.

With your deposit you can search for this yourself via the databases of one of the three deposit protection schemes. The agent should have registered this on the landlord’s behalf so it should be in the landlord’s name, not the agent’s. As soon as the tenancy comes to an end – i.e. the notice you’re given by the lender expires – then your deposit should be returned as normal, regardless of the repossession of the property. Make sure you do a check out inventory and gather plenty of evidence of the state of the property when you leave to defend against unfair deductions.

As this is all quite pressing (and I’m not a lawyer), it’s probably worth speaking to someone at Shelter, Citizens Advice or a law centre as they can give you access to lawyers and immediate advice about who to pay your rent to and protecting yourself from illegal eviction.


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