Latest from The Key Place’s ‘Confessions of a ..... Letting Agent’ series which takes a behind the scenes look at the operation of a busy lettings business.
We have a property on our books which we have managed for a long time. The tenant is a 50 year old man who lives with his mother, and the lease is in his name. The tenant has a sister who is not on the lease but who has been authorised by the tenant to deal with all property related matters on his behalf. And so the sister, let’s call her Susan, is who The Key Place has to deal with.
Now I suspect Susan is the older sister. She works for a public sector body and has the talking style of a 6 page letter without punctuation. She clearly has too much time on her hands given her level of involvement in the property, and she has read up on every single possible legality with regards to renting in Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales and beyond. She claims to record every call we have with her.
We wanted to inspect the property but were refused access. The reason given was that the tenant would be too stressed by the inspection, plus he has allergies which prevents anyone who has gone within an inch of a bar of soap from entering the property. We gave the required notice as per the lease to gain access to the property to carry out an inspection. Myself and a manager were on our way to the property when we received a phone call from Susansaying that under no circumstances were we to come to the property and if we did, the police would be called. The reason given was that we had not sent written confirmation that we accepted their conditions of entry – we hadn’t had this request so couldn’t give written confirmation. We abandoned the inspection as we knew we could not inspect without approval or a court order.
We refused to give up! Eventually it was agreed that our Chief Exec could inspect the property as long as he didn’t shower with soap that morning and used no deodorant or aftershave. He had to agree that the tenant would smell him at the door before he was allowed access (yes really!). And so the inspection took place. The property was found to be OK, not in the best condition but not bad. There were some things needing seen to, however the family were not keen (you can imagine) on work being done in the house, and so we had to negotiate what could be actioned, balancing landlord obligations under repairing standards verses smaller jobs that could be left.
The main repairs needing attention were a damaged back door, some work to the kitchen and a cracked front door step. Taking the front step as an example of how difficult this all became - the tenant eventually agreed the step could be fixed but stated the repair could take no more than 1 hour. Apart from this 1 hour they wanted continuous access to their house. When we explained that this was impossible and that the tenants were being unreasonable Susan said she would go the police, MP’s, the newspapers. As we always do when we are threatened by people, we acknowledged that it was Susan’s right to go to the police, MP’s, the newspapers etc. but we suggested that speaking to a lawyer in the first instance might be a better idea from herpoint of view to ensure that her position was sensible. This surprised Susan who has assumed that her threats of ‘taking things further` would scare us, but, as we were doing things by the book, we had nothing to be concerned about.
And so where are we today? Well the step has been mended after incredible negotiation, however some of the other repairs have not been dealt with due to tenant refusal. The property does at least meet the repairing standard. We have not been allowed to re-inspect yet but we hope to shortly. The landlord has been kept fully informed at all points and knows exactly what is going on at his property. We do not believe the tenants are going to intentionally damage the property and they pay their rent every month without fail. The owner would need to spend money on his property if the tenants were to leave, and so for him, he would rather keep the paying tenants, even although we can’t carry out inspections as regularly as we would like.
This is an on-going difficult situation as we still have a job to do. We certainly feel that we have earned our management fee on this one!
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