Shelter's support helped me hold bad letting agency to account

Shelter's support helped me hold bad letting agency to account

When Sarah’s son was forced to leave his home after being harassed and intimidated by a letting agency, she had no idea how to help him. 

A phone call with Shelter made Sarah aware that the agency’s behaviour was illegal, and what she could do about it. Twelve months after her son was forced out, she’d brought an official complaint against the agency, winning compensation and a damning verdict on the way they had acted. 

How it started

Problems began when a deficit on the prepayment meter left by the previous tenants meant Sarah’s son had to go without continuous gas or electricity for four months. 

As the agency was just across the road from the flat he had rented, he raised his complaint directly in the office, then kept calling back in to check how things were going. 

That’s when the situation took a turn for the worse, with one of the agency’s staff following Sarah’s son back to his flat, telling him he would be thrown out of his home if he kept complaining. 

And the trouble didn’t stop there. Sarah’s son was shocked when he arrived home one day to find that someone from the agency had used their spare key to let themselves into the flat, prompting Sarah to contact the police. 

It was when Sarah’s son said he was thinking about bringing a formal complaint against the letting agency that they sent him a two-line email giving him a month to move out. 

That’s when Sarah decided to contact our helpline. 

How we helped

Sarah says of her call to Shelter: ‘It was a shaky phone call, but the person I spoke to was lovely – they were so calm and listened to the whole story. They told us what the facts are and allowed us to take our next steps.’ 

With Sarah’s son pushed to breaking point, she says that he was on the verge of taking the law into his own hands. 

Sarah says: ‘I kept being able to tell him that we were the right side of the law.  

‘If he had reacted to the agency’s provocation, that could have altered the course of his life forever.’

Even though he knew the agency had not followed the correct eviction procedure, Sarah’s son eventually decided to avoid any further trouble by moving out. 

Sarah didn’t let up, however. She decided to bring a complaint to The Property Ombudsman against the letting agency, painstakingly putting together a log of everything that had happened. 

The result

It took nearly a year, but the ombudsman eventually found in Sarah’s favour. And the whole process seemed to have a positive effect on her son. 

Sarah says: ‘The lasting effect of getting advice was that I was able to demonstrate to my son that there is a right way to deal with a problem. 

‘That’s enabled my son to mature and, as a mother, that’s a lovely thing.’ 

Watch Sarah read the thank you letter she sent us.