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If a letting agency (on the behalf of the landlord) states on two separate occasions that two months are to be at half rent, are they liable for misrepresentation when they argue full rent is to be paid?

Details: Told on 2separate occasions that rent is to be £900 for both July and August. Tenancy agreement states £1,800 per calendar month (doesn't mention July and August). Upon signing agreement, I was assured that rent is to be £900 for both July and August. After signing, letting agency states that August is to be full rent (£1800). Supplementary form stating that that rent is to be £900 for both July and August, however on the same form it stipulates July is to be £900 and August is to be £1800 (however this part is poorly printed and not as clear). Letting agency agrees it says this but argues this is a mere typo (the part stating half rent for both). Only deposit paid so far.

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There are a few interesting points in here.

  1. The letting agency is, in legal terms, an agent of the landlord which means that what they do and say is done and said by the landlord.
  2. You have stated that you were told on two occasions that you would pay half rent for July and August. How are you going to prove this? Do you have emails, contemporaneous notes, independent witnesses etc. or are you relying on he said/she said?
  3. Let's assume that you can prove that you were told this then there are two possibilities:
    • It has become a term of the contract and is binding under contract law
    • The document you signed specifically states that it is the entire agreement and that prior representations are irrelevant (this is common in written agreements). If so, it is not a term of the contract and contract law will not enforce it, however, see 5. below.
  4. Irrespective of if the prior representations were made or not or are part of the contract or not the written contract is itself ambiguous and there is a dispute which is specifically about that ambiguity. So:
    • Calling it a "typo" means nothing - that explains how the ambiguity arose; not how to resolve it.
    • It doesn't matter if the printing is difficult to read - so long as it is legible its in the contract.
    • There is a legal doctrine (the parole evidence rule) which says that if there is a written contract and there is a dispute which is answered by the written contract then there is no need to look beyond the written contract. This doesn't seem to be the case here so whatever evidence you can provide about what was actually agreed would be admissible. -There is another doctrine that requires a contract to be read against the party that drafted it - presumably the landlord. However, this can be taken out by a specific term in the contract (which is also common).
  5. Assuming that the contract does not contain a term about the reduced rent for August and assuming you can prove that the landlord made the statements that you claim:
    • You were induced into the contract on a false understanding therefore there is no contract as there was no "meeting of the minds" - demand your deposit back and walk away.
    • There are laws in England and Wales making it an offence for a business to engage in false and misleading conduct - report them to the relevant authorities.

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