**%£~%!  Lettings Agents!

**%£~%! Lettings Agents!

19:44 PM, 7th November 2011, About 13 years ago

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I know there’s been a lot of mud thrown at lettings agents over the years mainly due to their high charges, limited ability and the fact that most landlords think “anyone can do it”. However, I always gave them the benefit of the doubt as, alongside being a Dartford Tunnel toll booth attendant, medical practitioner and primary school teaching assistant, it is the career I would be most loathe to follow.

(Having reviewed the list I realise they’re all professions dealing with people – I’m in the wrong job!)

I’m the kind of person who won’t give a job to someone if I can do it better myself (e.g. making curtains, most domestic tasks, gardening and managing my HMOs) but I was happy to pass on the task of letting my terraced houses out to an agent due to a combination of distant location and, as stated, it’s not my dream job. Having to take irate calls from tenants about maintenance issues, review the severity of the problem and report to the landlord only to be told “It can wait till it gets much worse”, then going back to the tenant with the landlord’s refusal only to face the tenant’s anger/disappointment; being a go-between would want to make me bang my head against the proverbial brick wall with frustration.

In this vein, if any of my agents call me with a problem I’m the ideal landlord: rarely question the validity of the request and willingly trust the agent to know what they’re doing, carry out the task and bill me a figure within £10 of the original quote.

How My Agent Annoyed Me

Two things have happened this weekend which make me want to take my agent out, line him up against a brick wall, generously let him say some last words then do whatever it takes to prevent him from getting up the noses of any more landlords – all at risk of having to do the job myself or find someone else to do it.

  1. I received an email from the agent asking for payment of five attached invoices which reflect the refurb work carried out after the last tenant abandoned the property. It should be in the region of £3,500 but, as I pay them 10% plus VAT monthly I didn’t think it unreasonable to ask them to add the invoices together, deduct the tenant’s deposit and the 25% I’d already paid to get the work authorised then present me with a final figure to pay. The thing was, I was sitting on the sofa laptop on my knee, cup of tea in one hand and biscuit in another so wasn’t in a position to do the work myself.Do you know what they came back with? “I will speak to accounts to see if they can do anything for you”. I replied “Just tell me the tenant’s deposit figure and I’ll work it out myself”, then I’ll deduct my 10% fee before paying them (I don’t charge VAT).
  2. The next email came from the same agent about a light at another property: “Called landlord and she is NOT willing to get this fixed, she said the tenant can at their own cost, tenant informed of this.” Noooo !! This is what ACTUALLY happened – on Friday the agent called to say they’d checked the recent £1000 damp-proof and gutter work on the property. When he was there the police turned up as someone was trying to access the rear of the terraces to steal scrap metal and our house didn’t have a light in the garden after it fell down last year. Now, this is the first I’d heard of it and the agent and I both felt that as the tenant hadn’t mentioned it earlier, it could be put on the maintenance schedule for when other bits and pieces needed doing, as my budget is somewhat stretched at the moment. That was how we’d left it and now the entire Lettings company think I’m a skinflint landlord who denies her tenants a little bit of peace of mind.

Perhaps I’m over-reacting but I thought that I was the client and, as much as I would hate to do the job of a Lettings Agent, I expect the person I employ to do it with a certain amount of diligence and courtesy! (Apologies if I sound like Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.)

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