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Advice about appalling letting agent service please

(20 Posts)
Arkengarthdale Fri 29-Jul-16 13:21:48

A property has been let through (what we thought was) a reputable letting agency. We pay the agent for a full property management service.

Tenant asked to be released early from year-long tenancy agreement. We agreed to this because we're nice people and have been tenants ourselves for much of our adult lives, and we know what it's like. However, we discovered the tenant vacated the property much earlier than agreed (although the rent was paid up until the agreed date). The agent had no idea the property was left unoccupied.

The tenant was only in the house for seven months. He had dogs which we were not too happy about but the agent reassured us that twice the normal deposit would be taken because of this to ensure that any damage would be covered. The carpet in the main room (through sitting room/dining room) has been stained. This has been scrubbed to remove, leaving a very obvious patch of carpet in the middle of the room scuffed and fluffy. The carpet was less than a year old when the tenant moved in. There has also been some sort of flea infestation (I ended up with more than a dozen bites on my lower legs after only 15 minutes in the property). We are told that this has been addressed but the agent hasn't produce proof that work has been carried out.

The bathroom was black with mould and smelling strongly of damp. The tenant has cleaned away the mould but the flooring is rippling and lifting. We sent in a surveyor at our own cost and the report states that the mould and damage to the floor are caused by damp through non-ventilation of the bathroom (lifestyle, not a building fault).

The garden has not been touched for the entire time the tenant was in the property and the lawn area is totally ruined. What was a usable green space is now mainly mud with patchy weeds and moss, looks like the grass has been killed off by dog fouling. It stinks. The borders are choked with weeds.

The tenancy agreement was explicit in that nothing was to be affixed/attached to the walls. The tenant had put up around 40 photos/plaques on nails and although the resulting holes have been filled and painted over, the holes are still visible. The painted over colour does not match the rest of the room. He had also tacked a heavy duty TV/Sky/hi-fi cable (not sure which) over a doorframe and right round the skirting board, the removal of which has left obvious tack marks.

The bedroom has been repainted a horrible colour and there is some damage to a wall which was covered by a curtain.

The agent did not pick up these problems at the leaving inspection, because apparently a junior member of staff had carried out the inspection. So far the agency has argued that the damage is minor and cosmetic, although there are clear before and after photos. The tenant is not prepared to pay more than £150 out of his deposit and is threatening to go to TDS dispute, which of course he is perfectly at liberty to do. The agency appears to think this is reasonable.

We just cannot get the agent to offer a solution and it feels very much that they are working for the tenant, not us, the client. The property has now been vacant for 12 weeks and isn't yet in a state to either re-let or put on the market for sale. Do we have any come-back at all on the agent? The total cost to return the house to pre-tenancy standard (carpet, bathroom flooring, walls made good, garden sorted) is in the region of about £900. The agent says this is unreasonable, but the property is sitting empty and not generating much-needed income because of the damage.

Can anyone please advise what steps we can take to make the letting agent do the work we have already paid for, ie a fully-managed and therefore hassle-free let? Do we just have to swallow the costs created by a careless tenant?

Thanks in advance and sorry it's so long.

Playduh Fri 29-Jul-16 13:41:11

No real advice but many flowersflowersflowers

Similar happened to us and the agents were absolutely useless. We couldn't even keep much of the deposit to solve the problems as it seemed that the agent was letting the Tennant do what they wanted. We'd have had to sue the letting agent to get money for the refurb.

We've chalked it up to experience. DH calls it our stupidity tax. We tried and tried to find a reputable agency but in north London they don't seem to exist. In the end we sold, not worth the bother.

Playduh Fri 29-Jul-16 13:42:38

Also if anyone even mentions renting their homes out I'm very quick to tell them which agent it was that messed things up for us.

Arkengarthdale Fri 29-Jul-16 13:47:35

Yes we need a Tripadvisor for letting and estate agents. When I look at the hoops I have to jump through moving out of my rented property I wonder if I could get the whole deposit back if I just do my normal domestic goddess clean and not get professionals in!

YelloDraw Fri 29-Jul-16 14:01:42

Very frustrating.

It will be virtually impossible to get the cash out of the deposit because the agency screwed up the check out inspection.

I think this is one of those things that you have to chalk up to experience, and try not to get too stressed over.

You could try perusing costs from the EA through small claims maybe since they have admitted they sent an inexperienced junior to do the check out who missed important things.

You do have to understand that you will not get the house back in the same condition that it was rented in. You can't claim to get it back up to the same standard it was before they moved in as there is wear and tear expected on carpet etc and quite short lifecycles for most things.

I always assume I will have to paint between tenants.

Probably new cheap carpet every 3 to 5 years depending on turnover of tenants.

I go up and inspect the property after 6 months of a new tenant and then annually thereafter. I pick up on things that need doing that the agency probably won't notice (not really usually things tenants have caused - just general wear and tear that I need to sort e..g bathroom fan not working property, that kind of thing).

The bathroom and garden sound terrible, but the sitting room and bedroom don't sound too bad. Spend a day there filling the hols and painting, and get a rug. What kind of damage is on the bedroom wall? If it is just cosmetic can you just fill and paint and the new curtains will cover it anyway?

Oh, never EVER allow pets. It is just not worth the hassle. Maybe it used to be pre DPS when LL would just take the £2k deposit and completely sort the house back out... but no way anymore.

scaryteacher Fri 29-Jul-16 14:04:50

I would let it go to dispute perhaps, and then argue your case with the TDS. I would also not let through that agency again, or if you do, I would be looking for a greatly reduced % that you pay them (if anything at all!).

You could always suggest that the agency pays for someone to make good the damage caused, as they will have their own contractor around. Perhaps he could quote you, and then the agency pays?

I would remind the agency that they work for you, not the tenant, as you are paying their monthly fee.

Arkengarthdale Fri 29-Jul-16 14:16:03

Thanks for responses. I understand about fair wear and tear but after only seven months? Yes we can put the walls and the garden back to how they were but why should we have to at our expense after only seven months? After two years, yes, but seven months? And the point is that the tenant is in direct breach of the agreement because of knocking holes in the walls. I'm not allowed to put any pictures up in my rented property but this tenant put 40 things on the wall - why should he not make good?

I have pets so I was sort of ok ish about it, but never again!

The agent doesn't seem to get that they work for us, not the tenant confused

mrsreddington Fri 29-Jul-16 14:16:59

In a previous life I ran a lettings department. I hated dealing with deposits -they are a pain in the arse. You sound like you've been more than reasonable and ultimately the agent works for you. Remind them of this and tell them how you want to proceed.

Did the agent carry out an inventory before the tenant moved in? If so, was it a photo inventory? If so I would raise a dispute and let them adjudicate. Go for full costs though. I found often deposit schemes would side with the tenant unless there was firm proof.

To get it relet quickly, you will need to pay for the works yourself and hope you get the money out of the deposit. Keep all receipts and quotes cos you'll need to provide evidence for the deposit deductions.

Is your agent ARLA registered? You can complain to them if you get nowhere with the agents internal complaints procedure. I'd find a new agent regardless. You've lost the trust in your current one.

specialsubject Fri 29-Jul-16 14:18:38

The wrecked. Garden is par for the course, I'm afraid. The cocked up checkout is also bad news for you -were no photos taken?

Complain to arla if the agent is a member, and dispute the deposit situation. Change agent and don't allow dogs again. Oh, and wire an extractor fan to the bathroom light circuit.

Arkengarthdale Fri 29-Jul-16 14:23:56

Thanks again. I'll check about the ARLA registration.

I'm about 7 hours drive away, hence full managed let, but am taking leave next week to sort the house out as the agents just don't. They tell us they will get quotes and then don't. Then we get quotes and the agent tells us the tenant only has to contribute a tenner.

We have another property with them and they are refusing to respond when we say we want to terminate their agency over this house!

Aargh!! No wonder my current agents love me as a tenant - I have been there well over a year and have only called them once!

Arkengarthdale Fri 29-Jul-16 14:30:47

Photos were taken before the tenancy, the differences between now and then are clear. Agent just seems to think it's all fair wear and tear.

The fan in the bathroom is wired to the light.

Oh, and the tenant left masses and masses of rubbish and the agency expect us to arrange for it to be collected by the council - if they arrange it they will charge us!

I will let it go to dispute, provide the photographic evidence then complain to the ombudsman.

Thanks all

mrsreddington Fri 29-Jul-16 14:40:04

Sounds like more than just fair wear and tear to me if he's been in less than 12 months. If you've got photos, I'd let it go to dispute, and I'd be claiming for the full amount it would cost to rectify

Word of warning-some agents levy a separate administration charge for instructing works. Agents contractor quotes x and then agents charges additional percentage on top for arranging the works. You may find instructing contractors yourself is cheaper...check your terms of business.

Definitely change agents

YelloDraw Fri 29-Jul-16 14:55:24

Sounds like more than just fair wear and tear to me

Definitely change agents

Agreed and agreed!

specialsubject Fri 29-Jul-16 15:07:49

This is awful. We had a tenant that left loads of rubbish in the garden, and told the checkout clerk that it was ours - it wasn't there when he moved in and we hadn't been in the country since. Fortunately after protest he agreed to pay for disposal.

Complain at highest level to your agents, if you've got hair flickers and nail filers in the office (London area agents are really bad for this) you need to get past their work avoidance strategy. Been there...

SauvignonPlonker Fri 29-Jul-16 23:17:42

Urgh, that sounds awful! Yes, change agents. There are agency review websites eg allagents - should help you pick another if you're far away. Whereabouts in the UK is your property (maybe Scotland from what you've said?)

I went through a deposit scheme dispute, it was a real process (timescales/process should be detailed on the relevant scheme's website) & took several months. The tenant left the place filthy, didn't pay utilities & damaged contents. Unfortunately the scheme sided with him due to a technicality. As others said, you just have to chalk it up.

In the meantime, I paid for the work to be done to get the place on the market again & get new tenants.

It was a really stressful time.

Hope things work out for you.

Arkengarthdale Sat 30-Jul-16 00:25:00

Thanks SauvignonPlonker ( judging by your user name I think you're me )

T'other way round. Property in southern England, I'm in Scotland.

Thanks for review website, I'll check that out.

I'm all for the tenant deposit scheme having rented most of my life, but the erring on the side of the tenant with demonstrable damage caused in a very short space of time is sticking in the craw a bit, especially as I myself am actually packing up to leave one rented property to move into another and I know I will be charged for cleaning and even duff light bulbs!

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 30-Jul-16 11:56:57

One thing I would suggest in future is using an independent inventory clerk to do before and after lets inventories. This is fair to you and the tenant. It also avoids the 'oh a junior member of staff did it' it will always be a junior member staff as they are the 'lowest cost' to the agency.

19lottie82 Sat 30-Jul-16 12:17:43

Do you have a dual signed inventory from when the tenants moved in? You need more than just photos to make deposit deductions I'm afraid.

If not did the agency offer you one when the tenants moved in?? If not I'd be looking to take the agency to the small claims courts for your damages.

SauvignonPlonker Sat 30-Jul-16 12:23:41

That's a shame it's the other way round, as I could recommend decent agents in both Edinburgh & Glasgow.

If you have date-stamped photos embedded in the inventory, which is signed & dated then you've got a reasonable chance of money back from the deposit scheme.

I can see why so many LL are moving over to unfurnished now, between the deposit schemes & taxation changes. Maybe something to think about in the future?

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sat 30-Jul-16 12:33:25

Re the junior member of staff do you have any of that correspondence in writing and have they admitted any kind of liability?

Because if they have done, I would try a small claim to recover my costs against the letting agent. Their opinion will be just that in the process and you should get a fair hearing.

If the letting agent has not done their job and this has caused you to incur costs you should be able to make a claim against them to recover those costs.

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