I had had mild trouble with a previous letting agent once before who said that they managed our property and just didn't want to know anything after our move in date. I knew nothing of David St James and regret not investigating beforehand now. I asked all the relevant questions that I failed to ask with the previous agency, trying to protect myself this time.
We were desperate at the time and unfortunately due to the time of year, there was a severe lack of flats on the market to let within our budget. When this one came up we had no choice but to snap it up.
When it came to conduct our reference checks which we were charged a whole week's rent to do, they didn't once acknowledge receipt of our forms. Very quick to call to take money, but never a single e-mail back to acknowledge anything which is very unprofessional especially when dealing with large sums of money.
The agents were also dishonest. They answered my questions alright, just lying through their teeth. "Yep, yep, yep, all sorted" so they said. Conditions that were put in our agreement were never even relayed to the landlord - conditions that we would not have accepted the offer without and were told had been agreed to. They said an inventory would be in the flat on the move in date - nope, no inventory conducted at all.
The second we left the office with the keys to the property, they didn't want to know later that afternoon. They made sure to issue us with a "Management Information" help sheet with nothing but a mobile voicemail number. Turns out the landlord didn't even pay for the property to be managed after they had told me it was. They even tried to make us pay for a second set of keys in our 2 bedroom flat as the previous tenant had not returned them all.
We later had a call from their management trying to convince us to pay our rent early, despite the fact that they pushed us to move in earlier than the agreed move in date and we lost some weeks rent in the overlap between signing the tenancy agreement and actually moving. Now they wanted the rent early!! None of their logic made sense in the supposed explanation why this would be a good idea and how we weren't losing anything. Now they are chasing us up for rent that has been paid.
They do not manage the property, but are happy managing the payments, holding on to it for 2 weeks before paying the landlord and earning on the interest. They said it's their "policy", but we have agreed that as soon as the tenancy agreement expires, we will just do everything privately with the landlord. Thankfully we didn't experience the above mentioned situations with properties sudenly being for sale after the letting agreement had already gone through.