Why We Stopped Using Letting Agents – Our Story

No estate agent signs please
Why we stopped using letting agents

When we first decided that we wanted to become landlords, we initially appointed a local well known agent to manage our rental property so that we could let them do the hard work. We quickly found that this was not going to be the case.

Here is why we stopped using a letting agent to manage our rental property and why we decided to do it ourselves:

Pre-Tenancy Problems

Our first clue should have been when the problems started happening BEFORE the tenancy started. We asked the agent to fully manage the property for us. They took this to mean that they should put the property up for sale. We never asked for that…

They said that would do everything! They did very little.

We found our own tenants and they still demanded a finders fee for the equivalent of 2 weeks rent. This is after we showed prospective tenants around the property (a job which the agent was supposed to do).

Two weeks before the tenants were due to move in we bring it to the agents attention that they haven’t performed the EPC. We were told that this was included in the finders fee. Alas, we were charged for it.

One week before moving day, we told the agent that they didn’t have a key for the property and we would drop it off to them. They refused to accept the key and wouldn’t take it when we turned up at the office to give it to them. Apparently we didn’t need to worry about it as they would get it sorted. No idea what that was supposed to mean!

Moving Day

The big day arrived and at 9am sharp the agent calls us demanding to know why we weren’t at their office. Apparently we were supposed to meet there to sign the agreements and hand over the keys (this was mentioned the week before but the agent kept fobbing us off).

Oh well, we have jobs too and couldn’t be there until about 6pm. We told the agent this would happen! Unfortunately the tenants had to wait.

By the time we got to the office they had closed.

Luckily we had the tenants phone number so we called them up and arranged to meet at the property. We went through all the utilities with them and exchanged full contact details. We did our own inventory (no, the agent didn’t do an inventory either). We signed the agreements (a 6 month Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement), apologised to the tenants and let them move in to their new home.

Lucky for us, they were very understanding.

The next 6 months

After the initial problems, things started to run quite smoothly. We were paid on time every month and never heard from the agent or the tenant. Things seemed to be going well and we were getting comfortable with the way the property was being looked after. This was not to be the case…

Here come the problems again

One week before the initial 6 month AST was up, we got a call from the tenants.

This was quite unusual.

Apparently, 2 months before the initial agreement was over, the tenants called the agent to enquire about renewing the tenancy. They never heard back. 2 weeks before the agreement was over the tenants called again. Still, they never heard back. The agent was even supposed to perform their own inventory which never got completed.

In the meantime we were told that the tenant had already signed a new AST. This was not true.

When we got the call from the tenants we decided that enough was enough. The agent clearly didn’t care about the tenants wanting to renew, and with the problems we had initially we decided we wanted to manage the property ourselves. This was when we finally heard back from the agent.

Dumping the agent

There was a clause on the contract between us and the agent:

“If you decide to terminate this contract with AGENT NAME, a 6 month management fee will be charged and 2 months notice must be given. This charge is not payable in the first 6 months of a tenancy and will be enforced if the service has been satisfactory.”

No problem. The service has been quite poor and we will not be paying the 6 month fee. Upon contacting the agent to tell them we were breaking the contract, they refused to accept this and demanded we pay the 6 month fee as well as an extra 2 months for the notice period.

They were playing hard ball.

Our counter offer: We will pay 2 months management fee as per the notice and terminate the contract immediately.

This was also denied.

In the meantime we had discussed with the tenants the situation and they were more than happy for us to manage the property. We performed an inspection, signed our own AST and they switched their payments to us. The agent was now completely out of the loop.

The agent however was not happy. They called the tenants and demanded that payments were still made to them. They also demanded a copy of the new AST and told the tenants they were commiting a crime.

The tenants immediately relayed this information to us.

We were on the phone straight away to the agent. They threatened us with court action.

We counter threatened and went on to describe all the jobs they failed to do and all the calls they failed to return. They had broken their own contract. We threatened to report them to the ombudsman and get our own legal representation.

This was all previously sent to the agent in a letter, signed and dated with emails and other evidence attached.

At this point they gratefully accepted our 2 month offer and went on their way, tails between legs.

After all the hassle the letting agent gave us we had finally binned them and started managing the tenancy on our own. We are happy with the desicion that we made because now we are in complete control.

Have you have any problems with letting agents in the past which caused you to switch or stop using them altogether? Any horror stories with letting agents? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Caroline Engstrom

Caroline Engstrom has a passion to help landlords and tenants by providing helpful tips and advice regarding real estates.

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