Hope you are sitting comfortably as this is going to take a while. The first issue being that before we moved in we asked if they would remove some of the beds as we did not require them but specifically asked them to keep one of the doubles. On carrying out the moving in inventory we discovered all the beds had been removed and flagged this up immediately. It took ages for them to action this and the person I was dealing with seemed only to be contactable by email. The situation came to a head when I was emailed to say the landlord was happy to bring the bed back but this would incur costs that he wanted us to pay. I of course refused and we did eventually get the bed back. However on speaking to the landlord it turned out that Martin & Co had tried to charge him for delivering the bed to us and that they had lied to us saying it was the landlord chaging us.
Also upon properly moving in we realised that the property had no been left in a very good state for us. Martin and Co have a checklist of everything that should be done on checkout and from what we could tell not much of it had been done. So not only did we have to move our items into the house but also spend half a day cleaning it! Some of the issues being the fridge and freezer had been switched off and the doors left closed so when we got to them they stank and mould was growing inside so they had be thorughly cleaned. The whole kitchen was in a poor state all the tiles were sticky there was a lingering smell which took a whilke to get rid of. All the windows in the house were filthy and the list goes on. We decided not to complain at that point and just get on with it as we just wanted to get everything in and try to get settled.
There were several issues with the property that we flagged up over the course of the next few months of tennancy and in the end very few were ever actioned and communication with the person who was dealing with us was very difficult and only ever seemed possible by email. He also consistantly relayed our requests incorrectly to the landlord causing the need for clarification and causing further delay. An example of this being that our electric oven didn't work properly and I reported this in unambiguous terms via email but somehow the email then sent to the landlord stated it was the hobs that were the problem. Then when someone was fianlly called out to deal with it they were told it was a gas oven they were supposed to be looking at rather than an electric one which this was. In short attempting to communicate with the person assigned to us was much like banging ones head off a brick wall repeatedly, very painful and achieves nothing!
It got to the point where it took one of the issues we raised to become dangerous before any action was taken. This one was the seal around the bath had rotted and there were rather large gaps in it. One morning I was taking a shower and was told to stop by my partner who was downstairs in the kitchen as water was leaking into that room and onto one of the mains sockets which was a massive safety risk. After 6 months of things carrying on this way we found out that the original person dealing with our enquiries had left and that somene else would be taking over. It later emerged that he had in fact been sacked due to the level of complaints put in against him from other frustrated tennants!
The new person I will say was better to deal with and seemed better able to communicate things accurately. However there were still issues in the house that we had raised near enough from day one that had not been addressed and we really started to feel that neither the agent or landlord really cared about our concerns and at that point we gave up and decided once our year contract was up that we would move out. We did even investigate the idea of trying for early release from our contract but this proved too costly so we decided to just stick it out. I did attempt again to report unresolved issues to the manager who carried out a management inspection part way through the tenancy. He did note these down but I heard nothing more about it after that.
Then it came time to move out and we had moved our items out a day early so we had a morning to clean up the property so it met Martin and Co's exacting checkout standards. We had set the checkout time for 2pm on the day of moving out to hand over the keys and sort out paperwork. So we were surprised when at 11am while we were still cleaning someone turned up on our doorstep to carry out a checkout inspection. We told her we had set the checkout time for 2pm but she insisted it was supposed to be 11am. On contacting martin and co it became apparent that they had 11am in their diary for us to do check out although I had spoken directly to one of them and agreed 2pm. In the end the inspector had to leave and a new date set for the inspection. By the time we had finished and came to checkout myself and my partner were quite annoyed. On doing checkout my partner complained about everything that had gone on and all the person we were talking to could do was laugh and then accused my partner of being rude when she got annoyed at this and demanded the address of their head office, We then spoke to the branch manager who was totally ignorant, clearly not interested and told us we would have to put something in writing if we wanted a response to it.
We thought perhaps this might be the final part of this sorry saga but unfortunately it wasn't and we had issues with regards to the deposit. After taking 3 weeks to action the checkout report and do the necessary work it turned out that martin and co were trying to take £290 out of our deposit when we left the house in a better state than we found it. Furthermore it emerged that what they were trying to charge us for was items removed by the landlord himself, 'missing items' that were actually in the garage but that wasn't checked. The rest was for things that had been that way since we had moved in and attempts to charge us well over the odds for minimal cleaning and decorating jobs and for issues that we felt were covered by reasonable wear and tear. The reaction to us questioning this was initially hostile and the manager saw fit to try and intimidate us by sending us an officious email stating that what had been picked up was based on the inventory which we had signed and implying we would just have to accept it. The fact that most of the points on there were wrong compared to the inventory or had nothing to do with it was never considered. On receipt of that email my partner called him and he grudgingly agreed to meet with us. On discussing the issues resonably with him he did accept our point of view on most items and in the end we were able to reach an amicable agreement and we did recover the majority of our deposit.
However it was an uphill battle and the manager did try to put us off a face to face meeting (possibly as he knew he would lose). It worries me that Martin & Co may be routinely doing this to other tennants less savvy than us and that they are just accepting it as they feel there is nothing they can do. To those people I would say to remember while your deposit is with the DPS nothing can happen to it until you are happy and you can dispute what the agent says and get what you are entitled to just remember you have rights too! What Martin & Co attempted to do to us was nothing short of extortion and I believe in many cases they probably do get away with it.
To conclude I will say that we have been nothing short of disgusted with the service we have received from this agent. Most of those we have dealt with including the manager were ignorant and apathetic. They have given us no support and certainly not earned the management fee they had from us and to add insult to injury tried to rip us off at the end of it. I will say to anyone who is considering renting via Martin & Co go elsewhere and save yourself the stress. We will certainly never be going back to them again.