Making a claim against a letting agent for malpractice

If you are a landlord a good letting agent is worth their weight in gold, relieving you of a lot of the stress that is involved in managing all aspects of your rental property.

However, when things go wrong and they do not perform as they should it can have a severely damaging effect on your business, your reputation and your pocket.

Dawn Kiddy, Dispute Resolution Solicitor with Petersfields LLP outlines what a letting agent does, what duties they have, what might go wrong and what you can do if things do go awry.

What does a letting agent do?

The duties your letting agent is responsible for will depend on the terms of the contract you have with them, but usually most aspects of the day-to-day running of your rental property will fall on them.

This would include finding tenants, corresponding with them throughout the tenancy, dealing with the services and utilities that are offered on the property, rent collections, organising maintenance, inspections, check ins, check outs, services of notices and deposit disputes should they arise.

What could go wrong?

Most letting agents are competent and have a vast amount of experience and will handle the day-to-day management of your rental property seamlessly without having to trouble you too often, while keeping you informed of any issues that arise.

However, sometimes things can and do go wrong with the way they run your property or handle your tenants. This could include fraud or theft, in which case you should contact the police as this would amount to a criminal offence, but other conduct could mean you face a claim from your tenants.

This could include failing to:

  • protect bonds or deposits paid by tenants;
  • serve notices correctly;
  • conduct regular inspections or carry out essential maintenance;
  • respond professionally to concerns of tenants;
  • alert you of any issues that could affect control of your property;
  • let you know of any changes in regulations or legislation which affect you;
  • pay you the money that you are owed;
  • properly handle the rent paid by your tenants;
  • address rent arrears in a timely fashion, thus allowing the money owed to you to mount up;
  • provide accurate information or advice;
  • put in place or properly draft guarantor agreements; or
  • evict tenants in a lawful way.

What duty of care do letting agents have?

Letting agents owe a duty of care to your tenants, for example keeping any bonds or deposits they have paid safe and returning any money owed to them in a timely manner.

Their main duty of care is to you as landlord: when you sign them up as your agent, they have a legal responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure that your property is well managed, that you are kept informed of any issues or law changes that might affect you so you can make an informed decision about your property, to protect you from any claims from tenants by acting lawfully and professionally, to put your best interests first, and to ensure that you receive all money owing to you.

If they breach this duty of care and you suffer financial loss as a result, you have every right to seek to recover the losses you have suffered from them, as well as clawing back any compensation that you may have to pay your tenants due to your agent’s malpractice or negligence.  

What action can you take if things go wrong?

Your first step if your agent has let you down will usually be to talk the matter through with them and see if they can remedy the situation. This might involve going through their official complaints’ procedure or, if this fails, through an exterior redress scheme such as the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme.

If none of these approaches produces a satisfactory result, you may need to take legal action against the letting agent who has let you down and you are strongly advised to consult us as soon as possible.

How a solicitor can help

Our experienced solicitors will quickly assess whether you have a valid claim for negligence and if you have, we will guide you through the process of recovering the money that you have lost.

It may be that a solicitor’s letter demanding redress will do the job. If not, your solicitor will help you gather the evidence you need to strengthen your claim, negotiate an out-of-court-settlement, or be on hand to sort out all the paperwork and offer advice and representation should your case have to go to court.

Prevention is better than cure

It is, of course, preferable if disputes do not arise in the first place, so when selecting a letting agent you should always obtain references beforehand to ensure they are up to the job. Make sure that they are signed up to a professional Code of Conduct and that ensure you receive a copy of the code.

You should also ensure that the contract between you and your agent is robust and clearly lays out the rights and responsibilities of both parties and any fees payable.

For further information, please contact Dawn Kiddy on 01223 928055 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.