Letting Agent Won’t Stop Advertising My Unavailable Property

Letting Agent False Advertising

I recently unleashed a letting agency to assist with hunting down suitable tenants for a property that was shortly due to be vacant. Clearly a glutton for extreme punishment.

The agent used all the usual marketing tactics you’d expect, including advertising on the biggest property portals (e.g. Rightmove, Zoopla), shop window, and the local newspapers.

Fortunately, and rather satisfyingly, I managed to find better tenants myself before they were able to, which meant I didn’t require their services.

Great.

So why the hell are they still advertising my property two weeks later?

A few weeks after I had found tenants and effectively cut my ties with the letting agent, I noticed my property was still being advertised on Rightmove and Zoopla, available for rent. Curiosity then grabbed me by the throat, so I decided to take a 5 minute stroll to the agent’s branch and peruse the shop-window.

No real surprise! The property was also plastered on their shop window like a prized mule, still available for rent.

When I got home I fired-off a friendly (but firm) email to the agent, kindly requesting for the marketing to stop because my tenant had reported people sniffing around the property, presumably innocent bystanders caught up in the misleading sales pitch. Of course, my tenant reported no such thing, I just wanted to create some urgency.

They promptly replied with an apology (which was nice of them) and assured me it would be removed promptly.

Okay, wonderful. No harm, no foul.

I check in on the situation two weeks later.

Oh, you guessed it.

Said property was still being paraded around like an award winning aubergine at the local farmers market.

The reality was, the false advertising wasn’t causing me or my tenant any hardship. However, the situation still managed to crawl up my nose and cause a kerfuffle:

  • They’re advertising a property knowing it’s unavailable
  • I’ve asked them to remove it and given them ample time to do so, yet they still haven’t taken action even though they assured me they would.

It’s the principle, right?

I’m starting to feel a bit invincible here.

Is this payback because I ended up finding tenants myself and not using their service or just regular practise by snake oil agents? My spidey senses tell me it’s the latter reason, but it wouldn’t surprise me it was the other.

Either way, I do understand why agents artificially inflate their stock:

  1. It generates more enquiries
  2. It makes them and the market look more active
  3. They can still use the enquiries generated by the unavailable properties

I get it, I get it!

But still… it’s wrong and misleading.

Ultimately, they have left me with no choice. It was time to take it up a notch. Let’s see how they enjoy wiping off eggs from their precious misleading shop window that’s plagued with false hope and lies.

No, I’m kidding.

Although tempting.

I sent them another email, only this one was a little more aggressive and a little less friendly, and I may have also told them that my tenant almost called the police on someone that was snooping around in the back garden, trying to get a closer look at the property because they thought it was available. While typing the email, I may have pressed my keyboard keys a little harder than normal, too. That will show them!

Hallelujah! Three weeks after my property became unavailable and after sending two emails (which contained a pack of lies), my property is officially off the market to the outside world.

Agents, cut this bullshit out.

Has this happened to you? Speak to me!

17 Join the Conversation...

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Dan Harrison 16th November, 2009 @ 12:00

That's shocking (but not surprising) behaviour of the agents. Might be worth telling the tabloids of the story. Your friend can make some cash, and the agency can be named and shamed.

Dan

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Marie 16th November, 2009 @ 14:24

A quick call to trading standards should do the trick. Used to work for a national chain of estate agents and the line was - if trading standards turned up fall to your knees and do exactly what they say. Love the website seen it today for the first time. Should be compulsory reading for anyone considering property investing. An honest insight into the slippery and stressful world of dealing with estate agents, solicitors, surveyors and the like - taking a punt with your own hard earned money with the risk of losing it all only to be regarded as a parasite by people who would prefer to pump their money into pension plans which ultimately make city fat cats wealthy - the short sightedness drives me mad - sorry for the rant!

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GillsMan 16th November, 2009 @ 20:53

Alternatively, if it's misleading advertising, complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (asa.org.uk) - I'm sure a letter from them will ensure the property is removed.

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Sam 16th November, 2009 @ 22:21

people can also contact rightmove/ zoopla etc to complain their property being wrongly advertised - they will contact the agency concerned and it will get the agency a black mark

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 17th November, 2009 @ 14:40

Marie,
You were dead right. My friend threatened to call Trading Standards and they removed the adverts straight away :) hah

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Marie 17th November, 2009 @ 15:10

Glad to be of service :)
Been reading some of your posts re mortgage rates. I have just had a letter from my lender as my fixed rate is expiring - they are trying to persuade me onto a rate of BOE base + 4.44%. Now my mortgage is reverting to a rate stipulated in my mortage offer of BOE base + 1.25% for the life of the loan with no penalties. Why do they waste the ink?

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sycorax 17th November, 2009 @ 20:11

Tell you another horrid trick they did tome. I advertised my flat on Gumtree the other day, in response to a really convincing-sounding ad placed by a person wanting to live in my area. I emailed them and got a twatty estate agent email:

'Excuse the direct approach, but we noticed you are definitely searching for tenants and this area and...twattybollocks flim-flam twunty-tops...'

So basically the agents are now posing as tenants in the 'wanted' sections of Gumtree to piss us all off even more. They actually believe we would use someone that duplicitous as the agent to 'represnt' our property. Let's all go to The Sun!

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sycorax 17th November, 2009 @ 20:11

I hate them! Grr!

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Dan Harrison 17th November, 2009 @ 20:17

Unfortunately, tactics just like of those mentioned above do nothing for the reputation of Estate Agents. These agents think they are being creative when trying to get leads, but they fail to see the damage they cause.

Another one that gets me on my soapbox are cold callers (in person or by phone). Don't get me started on them. So tempted by this: http://www.truecall.co.uk/

Dan

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Sam 18th November, 2009 @ 07:03

Marie - that is scary. Just imagine quite a few people may just take them up on that rather than checking their original paperwork!

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Twattybollocks 18th November, 2009 @ 08:02

Hey Sycorax - hope you were not using my name in vain!! lol :)

Twattybollocks

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James 22nd November, 2009 @ 19:16

Well it doesn't need me to put the boot into agents but this sort of thing is common practice.

The sooner there is a compulsory regulatory body for estate agents akin to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors the better.

So why do people continue to use estate agents? We're shortly launching a Private Property Sales portal and if nothing else I hope it puts pressure on agents to offer better value for money - unfortunately it may not change their practices.

check out our property blog: www.thebigpropertylist.com or follow us on twitter: @TheBPL

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Dr Nogood 27th November, 2009 @ 00:16

I like your last post James...being a little further down the food chain I can't wait for what you want for Estate Agents...for Landlords!

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Dr Nogood 27th November, 2009 @ 00:16

I like your last post James...being a little further down the food chain I can't wait for what you want for Estate Agents...for Landlords!

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Bobby 13th December, 2009 @ 21:22

I'm a director of well established estate agency and also well to do (goes without saying)... i for one dislike untruthful estate and letting agents.. but do support creative marketing!

We love gumtree!

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soo Yen 20th August, 2014 @ 12:34

Please advise me how to get the estate agent to remove the advertisement of sale of my property. I no logner want to work with this agent again.

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Sejvej 28th May, 2015 @ 14:04

I used a letting agent for tenant finding. I manage the property myself. The tenancy runs until August at which time I intend to sell the property. My tenant has expressed an interest in buying it. The letting agent wants 1.1% of sale price. Since I only used his tenant finding service and paid in blood surely he has no right to any more! Where do I stand legally.

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