Q. I am a property investor that owns a small portfolio of properties, and have just acquired a new property. I agreed to buy the property with the current tenant in occupation since he has been there a couple of years and seems reliable enough according to the seller. However, having exchanged last week, I am no being heavily perused by the Estate Agent that has been managing the property for the last few years on behalf of the seller. Apparently they are trying to issue me with an invoice for their fees. I have argued this through with them but they are claiming that they put the tenant in there so I need to pay the finders fees due for the remainder of the contract. Can you tell me if this is correct; am I really liable for the fees as I have agreed to take over the tenancy?
A. Investors like you buying with the tenants in occupation have become more and more popular over the years since it works out so well for all parties involved. The seller gets to collect rent right up until completion, the buyer collects rent from the day he completes on the property and the tenant is just plain happy that he is not being kicked out of his home because his landlord is selling! So everybody is happy! The situation that you now find yourself in is one that many investment buyers have come across I am sure. When a landlord sells his property the agent that rented the apartment for him or is perhaps managing the property is always keen to secure the business of the new buyer. But in short and in answer to your question, the new buyer has no liability to the agent whatsoever! The agent has a signed contract with the seller, not you! Once the seller has sold their contract for fees now becomes invalid. Agents can only collect fees if they have signed terms and conditions between themselves and the owner. Quite clearly, you have no relationship with the agent at all and therefore have no liability of fees to them. Of course if you want to continue to have the agent manage the property then you would have to set up a new arrangement with them but this is absolutely your choice and not something that an agent can force on you after the property has changed hands.