Am I legally able to change letting agent?
As a landlord, you have a right to decide who is the best letting agent to manage your property needs. If you aren’t happy with the service you are receiving, you have found someone who offers a package that you prefer, or costs have crept up, you are perfectly within your rights to jump ship and move to an agent who better fits the bill.
However, it is important to remember that an agreement between a landlord and a letting agent is a legal document, so it is important to follow the correct steps if you choose to make the change.
Are there any legal issues to consider when I switch letting agent?
When you enter into a relationship with a letting agent, you will sign a contract outlining the details of the relationship. Whilst these contracts are designed to continue on a rolling basis, there are opportunities to remove yourself from the contract if you choose to.
This clause, usually called the termination clause, should give you details of how you have to notify your agent of your intention to terminate the contract, and the notice you have to give. The clause is similar in principle to a break clause in a tenancy agreement, in so much as it gives either party the opportunity to break the contract early without repercussions, as long as certain rules are followed.
Termination clauses vary agent-to-agent, so check your contract for yours. If you are still unsure, we are happy to have a look for you – pop it over to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll check though it and let you know exactly where you stand.
How do I do it?
- Check your contracts: Check your contract for your termination clause and see how you can exit the contract without repercussions.
- Give official notice: Send your agent official notice that you would like to terminate your contract. The best way to do this is in writing, so that they have evidence that you have done so.
- Build a paper trail: In the same way that a paper trail is important when it comes to managing tenant disputes, it is vital to document every stage of this process carefully. Once you have notified your letting agent of your decision to remove yourself from the agreement in writing, continue to document every move every step of the way to give a clear timeline of your actions throughout the procedure. This way, should anything take a wrong turn, you have details of every action you have taken
- Refresh your paperwork: Ensure you have all of the relevant paperwork for the property that the outgoing agent holds, that you may need copies of. This includes copies of your EPC, gas safety certification, inventory, tenancy agreement, deposit protection details etc.
- Notify your tenant: You should let your tenants know exactly what is going on. Your agent has an obligation to do so, and it is important that you engage with them too.
- Engage with a new agent: If you are looking to engage with a new agent, make sure you do so in plenty of time. This will give your new agent a chance to liaise with your previous agent and make sure that any important information is passed across and no details are forgotten.
- Collect your keys: At the end of the notice period, don’t forget to collect any keys that the agent may be holding for your property. If you have alarms or key boxes at the property, it is good practice to reset the codes.
- Obtain final sign off documents: When your notice period is complete, make sure you receive a document from your outgoing agent to confirm that the contract has been terminated and that the contract has ended. This should confirm that all fees are paid, and that you no longer have any relationship with the agency.
Will it cost me anything to change letting agent?
If you give adequate notice to your agent and abide by the terms of your contract, you should be able to leave the agreement on an even financial keel.
If you have experienced bad practice from an agent, and they have failed to deliver on the terms of the contract that you signed, you may be able to exit the contract early and get any early-exit fees waived. If you believe that your agent has failed to fulfil the terms of their agreement, you can contact Citizens Advice to discuss the case. It is up to you as a landlord to prove that the agent has failed to provide an adequate service, so it is important to have good evidence and clear information ready if you are looking to go down this route. The team at Howsy are happy to advise on exactly what service a good agency should be providing, so give us a call on 0330 999 1234 if you’re unsure whether or not this could be an option for you.
If your property is under management, you may find that your agent has a clause in their contract that states that you are required to pay management charges as long as the tenant (that was found by the original agent) continues to occupy the property. Generally, a very dim view is taken on any clauses that tie an individual into a contract and do not give them any ability to leave. If your contract contains a clause like this, our free legal helpline can offer assistance in working out exactly where you stand. Give us a call today on 0330 808 1079
Do I have to give notice to terminate the agreement with my letting agent?
Yes. A termination clause will generally have a notice period of one to two months; however, this may vary depending on your agent. It is important to check your contract carefully and make sure that you are clear on this timeframe.
Will switching agents mid-contract impact my tenants?
Whenever you make any changes to your property management mid-contract, it is important to consider the impact that this could have on your tenants. However, if you choose to switch agents, there is no need for this decision to have any impact on any existing tenants. Keeping a good relationship with your tenants is key – you can read more about it here.
It is important to remember that there are two contracts to consider here – your contract between you and your letting agent (the one being contested), and the tenancy agreement between you and your tenant. Whilst this important legal document may have been prepared for you by your agent, it is between you and your tenant – and shouldn’t be in contest at this stage.
In order to make sure that the change-over doesn’t have any wider effects, there are some points that you should be sure to consider:
- Make sure you have all of your tenant’s contact details. You should have this anyway, but make sure that the details you have are up to date, and that your tenant’s contact details haven’t changed from those that you already hold.
- Ensure you have all of the relevant paperwork for the property that the existing agent holds, that your tenant may need copies of (you will need all of this paperwork anyway!)
- Make sure your tenant has contact details of the new agent, and a way to contact them should they need to. It would be wise to send a clear email with details about what is going on, with all the relevant details so that is in one place.
- If the agent has managed the deposit for you, make sure that this has been transferred and protected again, either under your name or that of your new agent. Don’t forget that once you have re-protected the deposit, you will have to issue Prescribed Information again to everyone who has contributed to the deposit (including guarantors).
- Ask your new agent to draw up a new tenancy agreement, providing the details of the new letting agent as soon as possible. This isn’t the time to be making big changes to the agreement, just amend the contact details.
Can my new agent handle this process?
Yes, much of this can be handled by your new agent. Here at Howsy, we help our new landlords with this process as much as possible. Of course, you have to make the first step in letting your existing agent know that you are looking to leave, but once that is done, we can take over in managing the rest of the process.
We understand it can be daunting to consider jumping ship, but it needn’t be. Your property is a huge asset, and you need to be confident that the very best people are looking after it.
If you are considering switching agents, give the Howsy team a call today on 0330 999 1234 to see how we can help.