Obliged to move in?

Question from Adam updated on 22nd August 2014:

Hi, my wife found a house through a letting agency and was quite happy with it after viewing it. The letting agent advised her to go to the office and sign the papers. She did not sign the papers because she wanted me to have a look at it too but she paid the letting fee. A few days later when I had a look at the house, I didn't like it. Are we obliged to move in even though we did not sign any contract and just paid the letting fee?

Our expert Juliet Robinson responded:

No, you are not obliged to move in.  If your wife never got to the stage of signing the papers because you wanted to have a look yourself then that in itself should have told the letting agent that you were uncommitted until you had seen the property.  A tenancy agreement, even in verbal form, can only be binding if the landlord and tenants agree on the terms of the tenancy.  You didn’t confirm an agreement in any form, so you cannot be bound to move in.  You may, however, lose the letting fee (depending on the terms under which it was paid).  It seems that your wife agreed to the fee, by the very act of paying it to the letting agent.

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