Mummy, what are Lettings Agents For?

I wasn’t the only thing to get soaked last night. I woke at 3am this morning to find that the torrential rain had found its way through our roof and into the spare bedroom carpet. Naturally I then spent the next hour lying awake fretting about it and blogging furiously in my head … So apologies in advance for the places where this tips over into hysteria. Trust me, it’s a lot more toned down than the original post was.

The Erudite Baboon, in a recent post, was worrying that his letting agents might notice that his flatmate had changed room, name and nationality between the beginning and end of his tenancy. He should ask himself one question before worrying further: is the new flatmate in fact a dusty light fitting? If she is not, then he is safe; the letting agents will not notice. A few weeks after we moved into our new house we got the check out report and inventory for the property. Here are a few of the things that had been missed by the letting agency:

A whole extra fridge.
Three large ugly pieces of furniture.
The fact that the garden (described as ‘in need of a sweep’) had turned into a buddleia jungle with a rampant passion flower vine that was not only taking over the gardens of the three adjoining properties, but was over the roof and beginning to threaten the television aerial of the next door house.
The fact that the smoke alarm had been disabled.
A leak in the drain trap of the kitchen sink that had stained the cupboard underneath it (described as ‘clean’) with filthy washing-up water.
A hole in the roof.

Here is what they had noticed:
Dusty light fittings
Marks on the wall
The damage to the ceiling paper where the leak had obviously come through before.

A colleague at work who lets out his old flat was mortified to find that his agents had docked 40 quid off the deposit of his otherwise perfect outgoing tenant as a charge for cleaning dirty light fittings. Is this some kind of a fetish of theirs? Who could overlook a fridge and see some dust on a light bulb? Who would charge 12% or more of the rent to look after someone’s property and not think to check whether the leak that had caused obvious water damage had actually been repaired? There are dozens and dozens of professional letting agents in London, yet I’ve never heard of a single one that wasn’t completely incompetent at the most basic aspects of their job.

We do, at least, have a decent managing agent for our house who, now we’ve moved in, regularly performs such miracles as: answering a phone, returning an email, sending a bloke round. I’m worried that she’ll turn out to be a sixth former on work experience who will soon be spirited back into school and replaced by the sort of workshy malcontent we had to deal with when we were moving in. Meanwhile, if you’re a home owner thinking of letting out anything more valuable than a beachhut in Baghdad, be afraid. Be very afraid. And then get a friend to manage it for you.


4 responses to “Mummy, what are Lettings Agents For?

  1. Our inventory man decided to include a real, dead Christmas tree on our list. I moved in in March.

  2. It’s going to be tricky finding one of those when you move out …

  3. My, oh, my! This roof problem of yours reminds me of a movie I hated to watch. It was “Dark Water”. The action took place in a block of flats in New York where this young lady has to defend her daughter against a malicious appearance. It is something like “Poltergeist”, but creepier. This movie is a bad one, but has an atmosphere that keeps you watching it.

  4. Pingback: Drip, Drip, Drip « Disgruntled Commuter

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