This was sent by a reader: "Okay, call me naive but I find it shocking how poorly London rentals are managed. Our family rented a house that is supposed to be professionally managed by an agency. There is nothing that can be described as professional about it. There was no one to walk us through the property to make sure we understand the details of heating and plumbing. Problems are not handled because the manager cannot get in touch with the landlord. There is no binder or list of which appliances are covered by warranty -- or not --- for either us or the 'managing agent' so it is difficult to resolve what should be done… we are at the higher end of the market, but the neglect and poor management seem to be universal. "
I've noticed that many letting agents will do anything to avoid putting the actual owner's name on the rent contract. I'd been wondering why, when this could leave the agent wide open to legal action in cases of disrepair, since it’s arguable that they have taken responsibility for running the property.
The rewards must be massive. Attempting to hide the name of the owner, agents prevent tenants from approaching the owner directly. Why? Simple - so the tenants and landlord can't become better acquainted, realise they are both reasonable people and opt out of using letting agents.
This happened with Landgirl and myself. She and I met, learned that we were both reasonable people, and questioned why she should lose a percentage of her vital income to pay a firm who were more useless than 'Useless & Co - The Most Useless Company In Uselessville, Uselessshire, Uselessland.' I am trying to get across the following point. The old letting agents were...useless. And Landgirl was contracted to pay them for this uselessness.
Many landlords want to be ‘hands-off,’ which is fine, but letting agents just want to squeeze money from every transaction - like using their own, high cost, contractors, or constant charging both tenants and owners for every renewal. They do little other demonstrate dumbfounding, crass awfulness.
You'd think some governing body would intervene. They won't. My correspondent’s best option is to divorce those evil letting agents. The name of the owner is available, and it costs very little to obtain their name despite her agents seeming inability to contact her rentier. Notable also is the fact the she describes herself as at the 'higher end' of the market. We are all renters at some point in our lives, and even in top-notch properties with enormous rents, there is no guarantee that she will be treated fairly, let alone well. A friend of mine contacted the owner of his flat after the agent went bankrupt. When last we spoke, the owner was deemed responsible for refunding the unprotected deposit, to his utter astonishment.
Especially when rentiers own one or two properties, and they live in the same town or city, all agents do is coin in money. So take a deep breath. Tenants and owners - say hello. Shake hands. Be reasonable. Prepare to deal direct with each other. It's the sensible way forward.