The staff I dealt with in the beginning, Tracy, was nice. Then she left the company. Actually when we first moved in, there was delay after delay after delay. We were told we could move in mid December of last year, then only to be told the landlord is going to stay until New Year and we could move in straight after New Year, then only to be told again that date has to be changed to just after mid January. It was beyond frustrating. I complained. It inconvenienced our moving plans and cost us in extra fees to the agent of our previous property (we effectively had to pay for extension of our initial 6 month AST which had ended mid – December, plus we had to change our removals van rental, etc. it all cost money). But at least Tracy was nice. It doesn’t change the fact though, that this was a bad start. At first I was wondering if the landlord was at fault here. Their explanations so far did seem to put the blame on the landlord.
Then I moved in and found the landlord left us chocolates and wine and a housewarming card. She certainly doesn’t seem like a mean landlord! The house is nice and the landlord seemed nice. However the agents are arses. They insist on quarterly inspections. I’m not against them even if they are a bit of an inconvenience, but I don’t mind as long as a mutually convenient time is agreed upon. However the agents informed me they have a set of keys and will let themselves in whenever they liked. They refused to give me a time and would only give me a date, and they insist that as long as the notice of the date of inspection was given 24 hrs in advance, they can let themselves in at whatever time they made it here. Their reason for not being able to give a time? “Oh, because we can’t possibly know what time we can get to your property since we have lots of houses to inspect on that day.” What blatant tosh, and they say it on the phone and repeat it again and again despite me telling them this is not right and very unprofessional. Would you like your agent to let themselves into your rented home unannounced when you are alone in the house sleeping or taking a shower in the bathroom? This is exactly the reason why I am not happy with the agent maintaining they have the right to let themselves in whenever they made it here. Also, how can you trust a stranger to come to your house for an inspection and not snoop around your things? In my opinion, this is pure stupidity on their part. If anything of yours’ goes missing after you’ve discovered they’ve let themselves in for inspections, please make a police report of theft. And complain to the Property Ombudsman, to which they belong to. Sue them for harassment. These are the few recourses I can think of.
Under Section 1 of the Landlord and Tenants Act 1985, I am legally entitled to my landlord’s address, however the agents point blank said they will not give me the information because of Data Protection. Sorry but I know my stuff too. Data Protection Act 1988 does not absolve your legal obligations. Do you treat me as a fool? If you don’t release the landlord’s details to me within 21 days of my request (if I submit it formally), not only are they committing a summary offence, but they can be liable to a conviction of a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale. And besides, this is not the only way I can find out where my landlord lives. But I’m giving them the chance to cock up. They are stupid to do so.
This bunch are total crooks. But they seem to want to try it on and see how far they can push the tenant to conform to their rules. And I wouldn’t be surprised if my difficulties at the start of move-in were due to them lying and implying it was the landlord’s faults. But I shall reserve judgment on that until I know more of the facts. For now, what they have done to me is totally out of hand.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that ALL the lettings agents over here charge ridiculous fees for tenancy renewals whether it is for another fixed term AST or for conversion of an AST to a rolling contract. Yes yes, I know the law says otherwise. Says conversion of an intial AST to a rolling contract should be free of charge and automatic right? But try telling that to ANY lettings agent over here. They will just say to your face something like “But we set the rules for our company. Take it or leave it. This is just the way it is.” And you know what? They are not wrong. Yes, if they are upfront about the fees from the beginning, you cannot then say they are unreasonable to charge you them if you do take up one of their properties. You sign a contract with them, and the contract will stipulate clearly (in mine, it’s in bold letters) that tenancy renewal fees are £60 for another 6 month AST, or £20 per month extra on top of the rent for a rolling contract. See, you have the choice not to sign the contract in the first place and say “Fuck those fees”, but if you do that, then you don’t get to rent the property they are managing.
So you’d think, I’d go searching for landlords who rent their properties direct without agents then. Wait… that didn’t slip my mind of course. However, these sorts of landlords are slim pickings around here. Maybe about 10% of the market (or so I’ve seen so far, and I am signed up to Openrent and other private landlord updates whenever new properties to rent come up)… And a lot of times, their offerings are not great. For one thing, they all seem to like charging at least 20% more rent than what an agent-managed rental property of a similar standard would charge. And then they tend to be in areas I don’t really want to live in. Besides there just aren’t that many to choose from, so that would explain why the ones that do pop up tend to be in areas I’m not going for.
For years, I’ve been resisting the national trend to buy my own home. I’ve always thought it was pointless to saddle myself with mortgage debt till I’m nearly (or truly) dead. Renting is cheaper than buying. If you think about it, the cost of the upkeep and the renovation of a home will always cost more if you do it yourself, than if you just had an agent round to sort it out as long as you pay rent. That is if the agent does sort things out, but to be fair, if they don’t, it is shittier than shit.
But now the idea of home ownership seems more alluring, compared to the crap I have to deal with with these extortionate, unreasonable agents in the past 2 years. Before that, I rented from possibly one of the best landlords ever – we stayed for a good 7 years as a result. If we weren’t forced to move as a result of work opportunities (or the lack of, in that area), we would never have moved. But since then, our experience in the rental market as tenants has been a never-ending cascade of crap. My previous agents (no, not the nice landlord… the ones I rented with after I moved out of the nice landlord’s accomodation) were only marginally better – at least when I requested my landlord’s address, they supplied it, albeit not as readily as over the phone, but when I wrote a formal request and sent it by registered post, they were pretty quick to supply it to me.
Ugh… I hate the rental market in England. Why is it so badly regulated and why do so many of these agents go scot-free so easily?