Problems with Letting Agent completely ignoring requests

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    Problems with Letting Agent completely ignoring requests

    I am a forum newbie and also a new Landlord. Apologies for the length.
    I have found myself in a stressful situation and was looking for advice from seasoned Landlords.

    I moved 200 miles away at very short notice from the flat that I own. I opted for a respected local agent to find tenants and fully manage my flat. It's a tiny flat and the goal was to keep it going as I worked out there would not be any profit once costs are met.

    The EA already had a tenant from another property that they manage - so did absolutely no advertising despite requests. In fact, they spent most of their time persuading me to take on this client (whose family had been "exemplary tenants" for X years in the last property). They also told me I wouldn't get another tenant as good for another month so I should take this family for slightly less than the flat was advertised for. I ran out of time and rent for my new flat was due as were mortgage payments for my empty flat to let so I relented and decided to trust the EA.

    Since that time, I have been constantly trying to get hold of the signed tenancy agreement, the deposit document, inventory , etc. After 2 months of chasing, nothing except 2 partial documents. The rent gets paid every month to the EA who deduct their costs and pass on the (little) remainder. I even have to chase to see what costs have been paid out - no statements. So far, they have already called people out to the flat (on non-emergency jobs) without informing me. I don't know anyone who can manage the property for me.

    I am making a trip to have a face-to-face with the EA as all email/phone complaints have changed nothing. I find I have no control over what is happening with my property and it is very stressful (with a young family to support). The contract is a 12 month fixed AST.

    - What can I do to regain control and get the EA to behave until the 12 months is up?

    - Can I take control of the deposit through a protected scheme under my name so the EA doesn't have it? I read somewhere here that I could and insure in that scheme it so that I can pay it back minus damages (if there are any) at the end of the tenancy (but can't see the link). Do I need the tenant's permission? Can the EA stop me?

    - How can I arrange a meeting with my tenant whose contact number I don't have without the EA being a go-between? I just want to introduce myself and see how they are doing in the property and have a quick inspection. All requests to meet the tenant in the past have been ignored by EA.

    - I don't relish going to meet the EA in case it makes things worse but would like my documents and to understand what is going on. Can they deny me any documents if I ask in person?

    - Should I stick with the EA for the 12 months and then self-manage - either with this tenant or a new one? Or should I do this sooner and incur any fees as tax for being so naive in the first place? Does the EA come packaged with the tenant for the 12 months?

    Many thanks for reading the above. Any advice welcome.
    Last edited by cashewcrisp; 04-06-2017, 15:47 PM. Reason: to shorten length

    #2
    Three overriding points.

    1 - What does the agreement (and probably separate) terms and conditions say about the service to be provided by the agent

    2 - The agent should be part of a professional trade association with a redress scheme, which should have a published set of practices and procedures.

    and 3 - while I don't wish to alarm you, an agent with a pet tenant who they pretty much insist on putting in place might turn out to be a member of the agent, a friend or a relative.
    Hence the alacrity of response to issues and defects (which is not common).

    The agent works for you.
    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, jpkeates. Right now I don't feel as though the agent works for me - but I cannot work out whether they are just slack in terms of admin or something more dubious is going on. They are well-regarded locally and have so many positive reviews on their website. Plus they seem like nice people when I met them/speak to them on the phone and promise to do what I am requesting - but then absolutely nothing happens.

      I don't think that the agent is related or a friend of the tenant - but I do think the EA is a friend of the tenant's last LL so the paranoid part of me wonders whether the LL wanted to get rid of the tenant and I was the unsuspecting new LL. This is one of the reasons I would like to meet the tenant. It could just be that the EA thought this tenant is a good tenant and it was a really easy earner. (No hassle finder's fee and ongoing management fees).

      The EA was sneaky in that judging from the date on the referencing document that I was shown (not given) they referenced the tenant for my property BEFORE I had signed a contract appointing them for a rent that was less than I had asked for (I only realised when it was too late). Also for reasons unknown, the tenant's previous rental fell through at the last minute but my EA couldn't (wouldn't?) tell me why. Being a tenant myself (as well as an LL), I don't want to judge my tenant before meeting them, but do feel uneasy about the situation.

      There's was a generic terms & conditions agreement that was no different to another EA's I was looking at. I'm perhaps being dense, but I cannot see the termination clause for their full management services and what that means for the tenant they found for me. I might have to ask them to clarify ts&cs when I meet them. They are answerable to a trade association but this would be a last resort. My end goal is to salvage the situation and have them "working for me" again - I don't want unpleasantness or to terminate any contracts unless absolutely necessary.

      Comment


        #4
        I think you need to 'man up'. There is no working relationship, is there?

        It sounds like you have been conned. Pound to a penny there is someone other than the person on tenancy agreement in your property.
        To save them chiming in, JPKeates, Theartfullodger, Boletus, Mindthegap, Macromia, Holy Cow & Ted.E.Bear think the opposite of me on almost every subject.

        Comment


          #5
          Hi JKO - yes, you're right I do need to confront them. Having young children and starting a new job far from the rental property means I have not been able to meet them sooner, due to commitments. However, I do believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt and that even terminating a contract doesn't have to unpleasant. If we cannot resolve this, that is what must happen as I just don't need the stress. But I get what you are saying, I have realised that, my EA is "just not that into me" and even if nothing untoward is happening, it is not a working relationship.

          My EA can't really fob me off in person - I plan to sit in their office until I get everything I need...
          In terms of meeting with the tenant, can I drop by to the property, knock on the door and then arrange to access the property at another time (say 4 days later) or is it better do send a request via registered post?
          I can ask a neighbour to keep an eye on who is in the property. I do believe it is the people on the tenancy agreement - the council and utilities do seem to have the new tenants set up.

          Has anyone opted to manage their own property mid-contract with an EA or just waited until it is over? Or changed the deposit scheme to their name when it was previously held by an EA?

          Comment


            #6
            I'd just send tenant a friendly letter with your email address at the bottom. Think of some question you need to ask to give them a reason to get back to you. If you hear nothing, it sounds like the person who you wrote to did not receive the letter, as he was not in residence.
            To save them chiming in, JPKeates, Theartfullodger, Boletus, Mindthegap, Macromia, Holy Cow & Ted.E.Bear think the opposite of me on almost every subject.

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks - yes, I have drafted a letter to send signed for. I'll update if I hear back.

              I have texted my old neighbour to enquire about the tenants and she's replied to say she hasn't seen them at all. It has now been 3 months...which is odd as it is a small block of flats and my neighbour's door is opposite my old flat's door.

              Thanks, JKO and jpkeates for replying (and not making feel like a bigger fool that I already feel for going into this so trustingly).

              Comment

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