A friend of mine recently told me about one of her letting woes as a landlord; her misery had me so amused that I convinced her to quickly jot her story down so I could share it with ya’ll. My initial plan was to regurgitate the corpse of her notes, and develop it into an inappropriate mess, so it fits in with the rest of the shit I put out there. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she had surpassed my expectations by handing over a piece that was fit for print- there was literally very little that I wanted to change about it.
I don’t know if it was fate, or just remarkable timing, but I felt her experience was a direct consequence of 2 or possibly 3 blunders, which I listed in my most previous blog post, 12 Of The Biggest Mistakes Landlords Make.
She definitely fell victim to mistake number 10, “Accepting DSS tenants without knowing what it is”, and number 7, failing to do research.
This is her story…
My hubby decided he was going to keep his bachelor pad and rent it out when we bought our first place together. We were completely new to the whole buy-to-let thing and decided we didn’t want the hassle of dealing with tenants ringing with every stupid problem, so we asked a local letting agent to manage the property for us. We met with a young guy, a typical estate agent full of BS, but their managing fee wasn’t too extortionate and we thought “what can go wrong?”
A few days later he called to say he’d found a nice single mum who would be perfect for the property. Alarm bells went off straight away as the flat is above some shops in a busy shopping area, on the second floor with no lift! The agent assures us she’s fine with the stairs and location. He also said “She’ll be getting housing benefit, so we get paid direct by the council. No late payments or excuses” We give her the OK and the tenancy agreement is signed and she moves in.
All is well, until…
The end of the month arrives and no rent appears in our account, so we chase the agent. They give us some line about an issue with the housing benefit, but promise it should come through quickly and we’ll get the money straight away. Three months later and there’s still no rent and excuses are flying left right and centre.
We contact the owner of the letting agency, only to be told that the guy we’d been dealing with had been sacked for inappropriate behaviour with our tenant. As the story started to slowly unfold, we discovered that the tenant hadn’t even applied for housing benefit when she took on the tenancy!
The letting agents were totally shit and turned out to be the biggest bunch of crooks I’ve ever come across! They blamed the agent they had sacked, saying that he had promised the tenant that he would pay her rent until her housing benefit claim went through, and he had told her that each month’s rent had been paid. Needless to say, he wasn’t passing on any of the letters which told her she was in arrears. Sorry, do we live in a world where companies aren’t suppose to take responsibility for their employees actions? It didn’t seem to register that they’re the ones that employed the adolescent, horny, little numpty.
The tenant asked for our number so she could call and apologise, and when she did, she told us that she’d told him the flat wasn’t really appropriate for her and her baby because of the stairs, but he’d promised her that all she had to do was call him and he’d pop over to help her get the pushchair up the stairs! She said that he’d called her at least ten times a day to check that she “was ok” and promised her the rent was being paid. She also said that he’d asked her to go out with him “millions of times and told me he’d treat me like a queen” I’ve met some naive people in my time, but come on!!!
I couldn’t believe it, I know she was young but how can anyone be that stupid? It was obvious that he wanted to get into her pants and promised her the world to try and achieve it. I wanted to string the little shit up by his short and curlies and slap her silly – although it’s got to be said that I think she was actually a conniving little cow who knew exactly what he was doing and played along with it to get what she wanted out of the situation. A free place to live while she strung him along – there’s a name for girls like her! We had to spend the next four months trying to evict her and get the arrears paid. Needless to say, she was evicted but we never saw the money again!
The moral of this story?
I think the moral is to do your research before you sign up with a managing agent. There are so many around and it really pays to make sure you don’t just go with the first or cheapest one you come across.
We now have a good agent – although we had some teething problems with them at first – who does a rent guarantee scheme. We pay a little more on the managing fee, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind.
Ouch. What a mess. I just hope someone got laid out of it.