Can I get letting fee back?

Question from Sohaan updated on 11th April 2014:

Hi there, my landlord and I signed a tenancy agreement and I paid the bond, advance rent  and letting fee to the agent. The landlord then cancelled the agreement before we moved in due to some cooking issue and is ready to refund bond and advance rent. The landlord had agreed on the cooking issue in front of the agent when we first met at the property. I requested for the agent to refund the letting fee but she said no, saying she has done her job. But the point is we did not move in to the property and the landlord is the one who cancelled the agreement, not us. Can I get my letting fee back? I am ready to go to the Tenancy Tribunal if there is a hope? Please provide suggestions. Regards, Sohaan

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act), tenants can be required to pay a fee for services charged by a letting agent where it is related to the granting of a tenancy (commonly known as a letting fee). The Act also covers the specific provisions that apply when ending a tenancy, including tenancies which have not yet commenced. In regards to the letting fee, whether you will be entitled to a refund will depend on the specifics of your arrangement, and whether a tenancy agreement had been granted. In regards to terminating a tenancy, in the case of a periodic tenancy (a tenancy that is not for a fixed-term), landlords are generally required to give a minimum of 90 days’ notice to end the tenancy. They may give 42 days’ notice where the owner requires the premises as their (or a family member’s) principal place of residence or  the landlord normally uses or has acquired the premises for occupation by an employee and this is noted on the tenancy agreement or where the property has sold with an unconditional agreement requiring vacant possession. In the case of a fixed-term tenancy, neither party can terminate the tenancy with notice. Fixed-term tenancies may only be ended by mutual consent between the parties, or by the Tenancy Tribunal. I suggest you discuss your situation with the landlord in the first instance to see if an agreement can be reached regarding the letting fee, and how the tenancy was ended. If you are unable to reach an agreement directly with the landlord, you may wish to make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. To discuss your situation further, or to seek further advice regarding how your tenancy was ended, you should call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) between 8.00am-5.30 Monday to Friday to speak with a member of our Tenancy Advice Team.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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