poor service from letting agents

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I had been using a letting agent to manage the maintenance of my property but have spent more time chasing the agent and managing them than I would have spent chasing contractors so I now do it myself. Unfortunately there are still several issues outstanding on which I'd like a second opinion.

The agent arranged for some damp work to be carried out earlier this year. This meant that the tenants did not have access to the bathroom although they still had access to a toilet and a sink (in the kitchen). Since access would only be restricted for 48 hours I was assured the tenants would not need alternative accommodation.

Unfortunately the sub-contractor used by the damp specialist did such a poor job that the tenants were unable to use the bathroom for 2 weeks and went to stay with relatives. As a result they have withheld rent for those 2 weeks. However the letting agent did not inform me that the tenants had needed to move out and repeatedly advised me that their claim for compensation was excessive. It was only when I made a formal complaint that this (and other issues) were taking too long to be resolved that the agents then told me that the tenants had needed alternative accommodation and that actually their claim was reasonable.

I accept that if the property is uninhabitable then the tenants should not have to pay rent, but am annoyed that the agents have been messing me around for over 6 months. Should I expect the agent to bear some of this cost, through a refund of the fees they charge? My argument is that I have been paying them to do a job but that they have not been doing it to a reasonable standard.

For example, related to the damp works, the bathroom floor was damaged. I gave authorisation to replace the flooring but gave specific instructions to only use an off-cut as the same flooring was used throughout the bathroom/kitchen area and I intended to replace the entire area at a later date with flooring of my own choosing. When I received the invoice it was for over 200 as they had gone ahead and re-floored the entire area without either consulting me or providing any evidence that it had been damaged and was unsafe, which is what the agent now claims. Am I right to refuse to pay for flooring that I did not authorise?

01/12/2010 00:00

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