Help with letting agent issues!

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    Help with letting agent issues!

    Hi

    Hoping someone could assist with this. Apologies for the long and direct post, but I need to vent!

    In mid April I moved letting agent with my 10 properties and was told by the new letting agent it would be straightforward and require little of my involvement but unfortunately, I have not found this to be the case. As an aside I live abroad otherwise I would deal manage the properties myself.

    Some (but not all) of my grievances are as follows:

    1)I was advised I would have one point of contact for dealing with my properties when I enquired about signing up.One of the aspects I didn't like about my last letting agent was that I had 3 points of contact, and it got confusing. I told the agent this. However once I signed up with it seems I have 3 different lettings coordinators and several maintenance people and accounts staff. I am still confused to how maintenance, accounts and the lettings coordinates work, and what responsibility lies with whom, and when I ask the lettings coordinators (who I believe to be my main point of contact) about balances outstanding or raising a s21 they say they don't deal with it and I need to speak to accounts or maintenance. It makes me wonder how they know if rent is overdue if they don't have a handle on the balances outstanding.

    2)The letting agent issued a s21 to a tenant however it was incorrect and had to be reissued. It was due to expire, I believe at the end of June, now I have to wait until end of August as this was not picked up until the 17 June.


    3)I was told property inspections would be done once they took the properties over. Then 3 monthly thereafter (maybe moving to 6 months if the tenants were deemed to be looking after the property which is fine). Several of these initial inspections have yet to be done, despite my chasing. I appreciate tenants can be difficult to get hold of, but it just doesn't give me any confidence in the letting agent.

    4)I had a recent insurance claim that I felt was dealt with really badly by the letting agent. I was quite ill with norovirus at this time but regardless I thought it easier and most sensible that the LA speak to my insurer directly, being armed with the facts from the contractor, rather than coming to me and then me emailing my insurer, and it becoming a case of Chinese whispers. However in the end, despite being so sick, I had to speak to both the contractor and insurer myself. The lady that dealt with this was not capable of handling the process, in that she could not relay what the contractor was saying and half way down the line told me I may have to speak to Steve (?) as she was unable to deal with it. I asked who Steve was and she said her manager. I feel it probably would have been easier to deal with Steve from the start. I spoke to the person next in line to the owner,(more senior I believe than Steve) asking for her help but she wouldn't get involved. Then when the claim was finally agreed and settled the lady who dealt with it initially said the invoice was actually more than the quote she gave to my insurer. When my insurer tackled her on this she was very confused then finally said no she had given the right amount. This took at least 10 emails from myself (who was now very panicked) and my insurer to clarify. I think this lady no longer works for the letting agent.

    5)I advised the letting agent that I was going on holiday the day before I was due to leave. I then get an email a few days into my holiday asking me to clear a contractors bill as it was quite overdue. I couldn't because I cannot access my online banking abroad. But I think what was annoying was that I advised the team of my holiday dates prior to my leaving on 24 June and then discovered the invoices were dated 13 and 20 May. I asked them how come it took so long for them to pass them over to me, and why wait until I'm on holiday but never had a reply. I paid this as soon as I returned home, only to find £50 had already been held from my rental income to pay towards this. I have asked twice for this to be reimbursed ASAP and was told it was in hand but am yet to receive a refund.This does not give me confidence in the teams ability and communication skills, when one member is asking me to pay the full amount and another has already deducted £50. Also if they have a problem refunded why not tell me why say it's in hand and still do nothing.

    6) I gave the go ahead to fit an new boiler in a property on 9 June following on from receiving a quote from the letting agents contractor. It hadn't broken down but a contractor said it could do with replacing. I get an email from the LA on 7 July whilst on holiday, again (!) stating the tenant has ongoing issues with the boiler, does not want to use it and therefore has no hot water. This was the old one and no action had been taken in over a month despite my giving the go ahead to get the new one fitted. I queried this several times and was ignored until well over a week later someone said the contractor was going out to fit a new boiler. They obviously had forgotten about my prior approval, I felt the matter of no hot water was fairly urgent, yet no one was communicating with me oracting on my instructions. I was so frustrated.

    7)I am given no assistance on deposit deductions. At the moment I am presented with the check out report and asked what I want to deduct from the deposit. This is so difficult for me to do from abroad. I am not sure what would be wear and tear, and need some input from the staff, as I had with my last letting agent, but so far deductions seem to be my total decision. Is this the norm?

    8) As regards rent payments, I don't feel the LA knows where they are up to in terms of rent balances outstanding. For example I have just been asked does one of my tenants pay top up directly to me, which no they don't. But why 3 months into our agreement has this not yet been clarified. Why was this question not asked to my last letting agent. Similar with another property, when I asked what balance had been passed over from my last letting agent as outstanding I was never given a response.

    9)staff mention repairs that I am told the tenant is still waiting on, but that have not been advised to me before. I was told there was no working smoke alarm downstairs at a property, and the upstairs alarm was missing back in May. There were 2 mains smoke alarms fitted upon the tenants move in, so I asked could they ask the tenant about the upstairs alarm. I am no electrician but maybe if they have removed one alarm this affects the other downstairs? Again I still await a response. Maybe the tenant is difficult to get hold of, but I thought an issue of smoke alarms would be most pressing, and this is really worrying. Even an update email from the staff to let me know would be most reassuring.

    10) I asked by email before signing up with them if they were ok to deal with all utility bills given I lived abroad. They replied it would be fine. Now they tell me this is only when the property is tenanted, and that I have misunderstood. I have argued back that this was never stated In their email and why do I need them to pay bills when the property is tenanted when it then becomes the tenants responsibility but they say this is not their policy. So now I have to log when council tax falls due etc etc. so I can pay them on time.My last letting gent covered all of this.


    11) Same with maintenance bills on empty properties they refuse to pay as they say the property is not generating income. I argue you have 9 other properties to use income from but they argue back this gets confusing. They have done this on one property but said this was a gesture of goodwill (?).


    12) One of my tenants have just left after being in the property for 6 months. They began their tenancy prior to me signing up with this letting agent. Prior to them moving in I redecorated throughout, and have the invoices for these works, as well as inventory from my last letting agent confirming walls were freshly painted.


    The tenants have just left after 6 months and both the letting agent staff and potential tenants who have been to view the property have stated the property needs redecorating throughout in order to let out. Therefore as it has only been 6 months since I last redecorated I was going to make a claim against them for the new decoration with the dps.Had they had been in the property 2 years then I feel that would be wear and tear, but not after 6 months.

    However my problem is that their independent check out report states general decorative order to be 'showing light usage marks', which is somewhat contradictory to all other comments.

    Therefore I feel this weakens my claim. I have asked if someone from the office could go back and discuss it with the company that does the check out and maybe could they amend the report and was told no.

    I have written to the owner listing most of these issues but he has just passed my email onto his team, the ones who I am complaining about so I don't expect to have much joy from them but realise I have to give them a chance.

    Should I get no joy from them I will obviously have to terminate the contract. Their contract states under termination of contract.

    'Two months prior notice must always be provided, and a fee of £250 plus vat will be charged if our tenants remain in the property.'

    Does this mean as I have brought my own tenants across to them that this obbligaton is not relevant or will I still be liable for the £250?

    Thanks for any help, and apologies again for the long post.

    #2
    I'd wait and see what their explanation is.

    However, I'd be ready to select another agent.
    I would (politely) decline any fees from this agent relating to existing tenants.

    However don't start looking for a new agent until the current one responds (or fails to do so, which would equally cause me to walk).
    Local agents all talk to each other and there's no point letting your current agent think responding would be pointless.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for your kind reply jpkeates.

      Yes I agree I should wait for their explanation. I did go back to them yesterday to ask when I could expect a reply and to ask for a copy of their complaints process. I also added that the issue over not paying utilities/contractors whilst the property was empty, makes dealing with them unworkable for me, and I was hopeful they could change this policy. I mentioned that as invoices/utility bills on empty properties were fast becoming due I was also hopeful of a timely response (although doubt i will get it).

      I would (politely) decline any fees from this agent relating to existing tenants.
      Not sure what you mean, can you just explain further?

      Also how long do you think is reasonable to wait for a response before walking?

      Thanks once again for all your help.

      Comment


        #4
        If it's a big company it can take a while to get a response, because a lot of people have to agree it.
        And moving a portfolio can take some time, so it's best to see if the service/relationship can be fixed (and finding a good agent isn't easy).

        My point about the fees is that, if you do leave, the agency has nothing to lose by trying to charge you (you're not going to be a customer any longer, so good will isn't an issue and you might pay something if they put pressure on you.)
        So make it clear that you won't pay anything beyond the management fees you've agreed to, so they don't try - no one wants to record revenue that they can't collect if they've got any sense.

        If you have a portfolio of property managed through an agent, you have to work with the agent and monitor what they do and don't do.
        The presumption should always be that they won't so you need to track EPC and gas certificate expiry to make sure the agents do the work, for example.
        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

        Comment

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