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The liability of the landlord where an agent is used
Where an agent is used, actions carried out by the agent on the landlords behalf are treated in law as if they had been done by the landlord. Landlords are bound by any agreement or contract made by their agent on their behalf with a third party (i.e. a tenant).
If the agent agrees to something which the landlord had not authorised, the landlord is still bound by the agent's action, unless it is something obviously outside the authority of a normal agent in these circumstances. This means, for example, that if the agent is acting as managing agent for the property and fails to carry out a statutory duty, such as ensuring an annual gas safety inspection is carried out, the landlord will be held liable for the failure as well.
A landlord will also be ultimately liable to the tenant for the return of the damage deposit and will be obliged to pay this to the tenant, for example if the agent were to go bankrupt or abscond with the money.
In view of this, a landlord should be very careful when choosing an agent, and choose one who will carry out their responsibilities properly. The landlord should also be very clear when giving agents any special instructions (such as 'no pets') preferably putting these in writing.