Cancel an AST drawn up with a suspicious R2R agency before it has started?

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I was approached by what I thought was an estate agent who told me they could manage my property for me. First they contacted me via email in response to my online ad, advertising my flat.
Then they told me they were a guaranteed rent service.
I know it was naive, but we signed an AST with them due to commence 28th Feb. I know we should have done this before signing, but the evening after we signed I did some research on the company and realised they were probably quite suspect.
The company is not registered at companies house.
The individual who contacted us is registered as a MD for his own business, the business started only 3 months ago.
He had press credits for his agency on his website, but on closer inspection his business wasn't the one mentioned in the articles at all.
I tried to call him the next day but the number didn't work - twice.

I sent him an email the next day telling him we wished to withdraw from the arrangement.
He emailed us back telling us he would take us to court as the AST was a valid contract and he told my husband over the phone if we paid him 2000 that was the only way we could get out of the contract.

Is it?
We have only been contacted via email or by phone and at no point did he inform us of our distance selling rights or cooling off period.
We notified him of our change of circumstances within 24 hours.
His business address isn't on the AST.
We haven't accepted the first month's rent or the bond.

We think he is highly dubious and think even if we had to pay him off we would loose less money that way than if we stayed with him.
I know I have been very stupid signing the contract in the first instance. Can anyone provide advise?
21/02/2015 16:07

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