Leiing Agent taking me to court over renewal fees

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M
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Hi

I wonder if anyone can advice on a dispute I have with an agency thats now taking me to court claiming I over them for 4 years worth of let-only renewal fees, amounting to over 4.5k.

The background is a follows:

I used an agent to find a tenant and agreed to pay their let-only commission for a 2 year AST. The contract was signed by two tenants: a daughter and her mother. At the end of the 2 year period (May 2010) the tenant's served notice to the agent and me saying they wished to move out. But, at last minute the tenant's changed their minds and asked me if they could stay in the flat - reason being the mother became very ill at this time and the stress of moving would be too much for her to bear. I did not contact the agent at this point and nor did the tenants.

Six months into the third year, the mother had to be moved to a nursing home as she now needed full-time specialist care. I let the daughter continue to stay the flat. I signed a new AST with just her (starting Oct 2010) and without telling the agent. The daughter continues to live in the flat to the present day.

The agent found out last year that the daughter still lives in the flat and are now demanding I pay them the full let-only commission from the date at which the tenants served notice to vacate (May 2010). A sum of 4,606 to date and increasing. The agent is claiming that as one of the tenant's remained in the flat after the initial 2 year AST, this represents an extension/renewal of the contract, and under the terms of that contract, I owe ongoing commission. My point is that the new AST is not a renewal/extension, as the party on the contract is now one person (the daughter) and not two (the daughter and her mother) who signed the initial 2 years AST with the agency.

The contract I signed with the agency states: "a fee of 6% plus VaT will be charged for a tenancy renewal/extension for a second year or further period". This sentence was not explained to me by the agent.

I have offered to pay a renewal to the agent for period May 2010 to Oct 2010 - as both tenants were still resident at the flat. The agent refused my offer.

Have discussed this with the tenant (daughter) and she is willing to attend as a witness in court to back up what I have said above about the circumstances of her intending to vacate the flat and her subsequent change of mind. (The mother has since died through ill health).

I think the agent is being very unreasonable. The only "service " they have provided, apart from finding a tenant, is to collect the rent.

Is there any way I can reduce their claim? Are the agent's able to claim the full 6% for ever and a day? For, in effect, an introduction?

Advice and help greatly appreciated

many thanks
Paul
09/12/2013 12:18

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