Reclaiming letting fee

Question from Scentcina updated on 7th December 2018:

My family moved into a house for rent through an agent. But after we moved in everything was to be dealt with through the landlord. Two weeks after we moved in I got a call from another agent saying that the landlord is putting the house on the market for sale. I'm just wondering what are the chances of getting any money back from the letting fee and so on?

Our expert Bernard Parker responded:

It sounds like the agent in the agreement with you was hired to arrange a casual let and that the landlord intended to manage the property. You haven’t said what type of agent announced that the landlord was putting the house on the market. But I assume it was a real estate sales agent. You can ask the landlord for verification, because the landlord must advise a tenant in writing as soon as a property is placed on the market for sale.

Regarding the letting fee paid to the first agent: That fee was charged for the service provided by that agent in signing up the tenancy agreement with you. Accordingly, the service was provided, and so the fee is non-refundable. However, if you can establish that the landlord intended all along to sell the property, you may have a case for claiming from the landlord for not letting you know of his intentions at the time you signed the tenancy agreement. A landlord must let a prospective tenant know if the property is on the market at the time of letting.

Bernard is principal of Quinovic – Kapiti-Mana. Quinovic's outstanding people and systems provide the most professional, effective and reliable residential property management service in the NZ market for over 30 years.

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