As a tenant it can be tricky to know your rights when a letting agent goes out of business. You have lost your point of contact if you have a worry or issue.
A tenancy agreement is a contract between a tenant and a landlord, the letting agent just acts as the middle man. So if a letting agent goes out of business, the tenancy agreement is still valid for the remainder of the rental period. The only thing that you really need to know is that all responsibility for your tenancy now lies with your landlord.
If the letting agent went out business for financial reasons there’s always the possibility that the letting agent didn’t pass on your rent, or deposits. Your landlord may incorrectly think that you are in arrears, you may have to prove through bank statements and receipts that it is the letting agent at fault rather than you. Legally as a tenant you can ask your landlord to serve you with a Section 48 notice, which is basically a record of an address for the landlord, either their home or business address, or a managing or letting agent. Failure to provide this address means a landlord cannot demand rent from a tenant.
In an ideal world your landlord should either write, email, call or visit to explain the situation and how the tenancy will continue. However, you shouldn’t count on it; he may not even live in the same country as you. There’s no harm in seeking out your tenancy agreement and trying to contact the landlord yourself. If your rent is still hitting his account on time, your heads up may be the first hint he has that his letting agent is MIA.
At the end of your tenancy your landlord will now be responsible for releasing your deposit. It may be that the letting agent has taken all your deposits with him, and that your landlord is actually out of pocket. They are still liable to pay the deposit back to you however, regardless of the situation.
If you have problems getting hold of your landlord, it’s best to write and keep a copy for yourself. If you’re worried about any aspect of your tenancy you should contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.