In Britain you must deal with the individual agency that has listed a property, whether to buy or to rent. As a result, estate agents don’t have to be responsive to the needs of the potential buyer or tenant. If you are interested in a particular property, you must deal with them. It has been my experience that when you speak to the sales side of an agency, the agent is friendly, courteous, and extremely helpful.
The same can not be said for the rental side. There you are left at the mercy of the most incompetent occupation (I can’t bring myself to call it a profession), the lettings agent. There are some good, professional, considerate lettings agents out there and we have worked with one or two. Unfortunately, the vast majority taint the entire group. They seem to think of potential tenants as a lower form of life not due basic courtesy.
Here are some suggestions and recommendations for the proper way for lettings agents to treat their customers:
The pictures you put up on your website or the property search sites will determine if I call you about a property. Please put up more than one picture. Yes, it’s nice to know what the front looks like, but I’d also like to see the garden and get a feel for the size of the rooms and the condition inside. Lets not waste your time and mine by having me drive over to the property only to discover that all the bedroom ceilings slant so the only place I can stand is in the centre of the room.
Please ensure the pictures are in focus, bright enough to see, and loaded the correct way up. I have even seen a listing where the only picture was a screen shot of the street view showing only the street and no houses.
While you may only list properties close to your office in some town, please don’t assume the person looking on line knows where that is. Where ever possible, please list the street and town names and, if necessary, the nearest large town. Remember people using the property search sites may have put in the county name or a large search area and don’t know which Main Street you are talking about. Also, please be sure to put the correct information. If a house is located in a village five miles away from the major town, include the name of the village rather than just the town.
Don’t say it’s available now when you can’t show the property for some period of time while it’s being painted or the current tenants are still there. It would also be nice if it wasn’t listed at all until it was available to be viewed. I realize that some landlords want the property advertised as soon as possible, but I may forget about the property in the weeks between the listing and showing. If you have to list early, please take my name and number and call me when you begin scheduling listings. What’s the point in advertising if you don’t do anything with the responses?
Many times I have called about a property with a question that the agent doesn’t know how to answer, such as does this property allow my cat? Regardless of the answer, please call me with the response rather than have me decide after not hearing from you for days that the answer is no. I may have a backup house I’ll consider but I want your house if possible. Also I may not have the cat yet but I want to know if it’s a possibility. This is especially true at viewings, if I have questions and you say you’ll get back to me with the answers, Please Do. It is just common courtesy to keep your word and get back to people.
When there has been a delay in scheduling viewings or the property is a distance from your office, I understand the need/desire to schedule a batch of viewings for several potential tenants. Normally these are at 15 minute intervals. Would you pick a house to live in for several years after just viewing it for 15 minutes? If I like the property, I want to spend some time to see if it feels right or think about if my furniture will fit. If the next group is knocking on the door as soon as I’ve made a quick pass of the house and garden, I don’t have time to think. I may like all but one thing and need to decide if there is a workaround or if it is a deal breaker.
Show Me the Lease
Please let me have a copy of the lease sufficiently in advance of signing to make sure I understand it and accept all the items. In some areas, it is normal for the notice period to be tied to the day of the month of the signing date while in other areas the norm is any 30 day period. You might want the lace curtains professionally cleaned every three months or not allow me to hang pictures on the walls. Some of these I may be able to live with but some may be difficult. I don’t want the first time I’ve seen the lease to be when the moving truck is waiting for me to arrive with the keys.
Mark it as Let
Once an application with fees has been received, please mark the property as let or let pending. Don’t waste my time and interest in something that isn’t available and your time telling me it’s not available.
I know the landlord needs to ensure the property is being maintained and there aren’t any problems starting. However, the tenant is entitled to “peaceful enjoyment”. Inspections every quarter feels like an invasion of privacy. If you need to do an inspection after the first 3 months to ensure everything is fine (and that I’m not growing any illegal plants) I understand but after that respect your tenants and keep the intrusions to a minimum.
Tenant Brings the Money
Finally, remember it is the tenant that is your customer as they are the one that brings the money. The landlord may hire you as their representative, but your fees come out of the money the tenant pays. Without the tenant, you have an empty property and an unhappy landlord.