Landlord seeking advice over poor letting agent

by Readers Question

17:53 PM, 4th July 2013
About 6 years ago

Landlord seeking advice over poor letting agent

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Landlord seeking advice over poor letting agent

I’m looking for some advice here as I’m having no end of problems with my letting agent.

I have found their standard of service and communication to be appalling whilst being charged extortionate fees. They have carried out repairs without first obtaining quotes, not returned calls, not paid money into my account on the date that they assured me they would and generally been downright rude.

If my tenant only stays for six months I have calculated that I’ll have paid them 60% of the rental income in fees, with their monthly management fee being 18.3%.

I had to chase them to obtain an invoice for a repair that was carried out on a 9 year old washing machine and this showed a part which cost £55. In correspondence with one of their managers he revealed the part actually cost £53.88 but they allowed their contractors to round this up as he had to source the part, this was on top of a £40 job charge which I assumed would include sourcing parts. I was also forwarded an email from the contractor which had been sent to my agent in which he admitted that the machine was old and anything could go wrong at that age. Had I been contacted prior to the original repair I’d just have bought a new machine in the first place and saved myself some money.

I realise the amounts involved aren’t huge but its the principal of them allowing such rounding up.

On top of that I had to chase my agents in order to have them chase the tenant for late paid rent despite me paying for a fully managed service. I was told they give the tenants 10 days after the rent due date before they even begin chasing it, which was never once explained to me prior to this incident.

I’m now past the point where there is less than two months left on the tenancy so I cannot serve notice, although with the exception of the late paid rent which was a simple oversight on the tenants part and rectified within an hour of it being brought to their attention, they have been good tenants and I do not want to evict them for no reason other than a poor standard of service from the letting agent.

My contract states that if I cancel the agreement with the tenants in place or move to another agent with the tenant still in place I’ll owe my agent one month’s rent plus VAT. However there is a clause that states if either party breaches contract and a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached and the agent is at fault I can cancel my contract without any penalty.

My question therefore is whether or not the above issues, which is just scraping the surface of a downright joke of a service, will constitute a breach of contract?

As far as I’m concerned I’m paying for a service which I am not receiving and do not think they are complying with their duties as agents. I have sent a letter to their customer relations department and have been assured of a response sometime next week but any additional advice is very much appreciated.

I realise I should never have signed a contract with such extortionate fees but I found myself with a vacant property at very short notice and very little time to get it all sorted out and stupidly assumed a company the size of this particular agent (one of the Nationals) would be professional and fee competitively.

Craig Wallace

Landlord seeking advice over poor letting agent



Comments

Mark Alexander

18:06 PM, 4th July 2013
About 6 years ago

Hi Craig

We have communicated offline so I know who your letting agent is and I can confirm they are a member of an Ombudsman scheme.

I would suggest you telephone a senior person and offer them the following deal.

Based on your complaint you are happy to take your business elsewhere proving they waive their penaly. If these terms are not acceptable you will still take your business elsewhere, pay the penalty, refer your complaint to the Ombudsman with a claim for repayment of the penalty plus compensation. If the Ombudsman rules in your favour but a satisfactory settlement is not reached you will then take the matter to the Small Claims Court.

if you letting agent does not back off any you follow my suggestions above I will be happy to help you name and shame your letting agent if you win in Court. Under the circumstances I very much doubt that your letting agents will risk the bad PR for such a small amount and they are highly unlikely to call your bluff and put you through the hassle. If they do though, and especially if the Ombudsman rules in your favour, it will be worth employing an expensive lawyer as the Courts are very likely to back up the Ombudsman ruling and order costs against your letting agent.

Until a case has been to Court we are unable to name and shame I'm afraid. For more information about our policy on this please see >>> http://www.property118.com/what-property118-is-not/

John Gell

21:36 PM, 4th July 2013
About 6 years ago

Craig,

Why on earth are you paying 18+% for what seems to be a shoddy service?

Is your agent a member of a professional body or accreditation scheme? if so, raise your concerns with them. Does your agent have a complaints redress mechanism? If so, use it. If not, swallow the exit cost and move on. Be sure to use an agent who is RICS, ARLA or who has the SafeAgent badge as these will assure standards.

When looking for an agent interrogate the contenders. Find out what their track record's like. Ask if you can speak to existing clients to obtain an opinion.

Best of luck!

John.

Craig Wallace

22:06 PM, 4th July 2013
About 6 years ago

Hi John

Thanks for your reply, that's the exact same question I'm asking myself and why I'm trying to get away. So far when i've asked them to justify the high fees their response has pretty much been limited to "that's what you signed" which unfortunately is true. I'm new to all this and a landlord through necessity, not choice, I've been trying to sell the property but with no luck so I'd just like to cover the mortgage, not interested in making a profit on it. They are a member of ARLA and The Property Ombudsman although they seem to be taking great delight in informing me that I cannot escalate my complaint to TPO until I receive their final comment letter. They are a large national company and as such I wrongly assumed this would mean they offer a better service. I'm currently trying to ascertain whether all the issues are significant enough to constitute a breach of contract on their part.

Thanks again

Craig

raj dhillon

12:48 PM, 29th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Craig Wallace" at "04/07/2013 - 22:06":

Being a letting agent ourselves one of the reasons I got into the industry was to give clients

a service and which most importantly is value for money.

There are numerous well known agents who are not only charging whopping fees but also

not providing a sufficient service. If anybody needs help or any questions answered I would be happy to help.

Craig Wallace

16:01 PM, 29th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "raj dhillon" at "29/08/2013 - 12:48":

Hi Raj, thanks for your message. I eventually got out of my contract without an exit fee after the agent accidentally forwarded me an internal email in which theyrepeatedly insulted me and stated they were charging me a high rate ofcommission so that they could make a good commission from me. They tried to recall the email 3 times before asking me to disregard it, needless to say I went straight to their MD with it and got out of my contract a few days later

Vanessa Warwick

17:48 PM, 29th August 2013
About 5 years ago

What a fantastic outcome for you Craig!

That email must have had them very worried.

Hopefully, before appointing another lettings agent, you will know to do some more due diligence on them.

I put together a load of questions to ask a lettings agent as part of that process:

http://www.propertytribes.com/how-vet-lettings-agent-12-questions-ask-t-8765.html

There is no "win or lose" if you win and learn. 🙂

Mark Alexander

18:19 PM, 29th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Craig Wallace" at "29/08/2013 - 16:01":

Congratulations Craig. Please take a look at my guide to attracting perfect tenants >>> http://www.property118.com/landlords-buy-to-let-property-investment-strategy/finding-perfect-tenants-and-minimising-risk/
.


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