Mar 18,2015
Minithumbdown
By: 'John'
Mar 18,2015
2 people found
this helpful
If I were asked to describe the services provided by Homes4U Manchester - disgraceful. Here's why:

In September 2014 I and two friends found a property advertised on-line by Homes4U, a property management agency based in Manchester. Homes4U has 4 offices located around the city and cater mainly (though not exclusively) for the cities student population.
We arranged a viewing of the property and the sales agent showed us a couple of properties in the newly developed Grove Village area of Ardwick. Both properties were similar, though one had some ongoing building works across the street which looked as though it would be quite noisy so we decided to go for the other. The property itself was a 4 bedroom mid-terrace house with front and back garden, one en-suite bedroom a decent sized kitchen and a very small sitting room, spread out over three floors. There was a few issues but the friendly sales agent assured us that all of these were in hand and on their way to being fixed, the location was ideal too. We went to the office to fill out the paperwork.
The staff in the city centre branch seemed friendly and courteous. In our group was two mature post grads doing further studies at Manchester University, and myself a working professional. We requested that we let the house in its entirety on a joint agreement; we didn't like the idea of the fourth bedroom being rented out to somebody unknown to us. Homes4u agreed to this on the basis that we'd have to split the cost of the four rooms between three of us; this meant we were paying a little bit over the odds but we were happy enough with this. The monthly rent for the property was to be ‚£1065.99. We paid a deposit of ‚£1230 and signed the joint assured shorthold tenancy agreement for a fixed term of 12 months. The only issue that arose at this time was they asked one of our group, an overseas Phd student from the US, to pay her rent in 4 instalments, 4 months upfront. This seemed a bit unfair but we weren't in a position to argue about this, we needed somewhere to stay urgently.
A few days later we moved in. We immediately carried out a full inventory and check of the property listing a number of issues on the checklist provided by Homes4U. This paperwork was returned to them in person within a few days and again we were assured all of the issues would be quickly resolved. There was a few serious issues though, damaged electrical sockets with exposed conductors, a leak from the en-suite shower that poured into the room below, a bedroom fire escape window that was detached from its hinges and light fixtures dangling on their supply cables again with exposed conductors. There was a few more cosmetic issues too. And although this didn't become apparent until recently, we were never provided with a gas safety inspection certificate, something Homes4U were legal obliged to do.
Six months have passed and the majority of these faults still exist, despite chasing Homes4U they have shown no urgency in fixing these significant hazards and have shown no regard for our safety.
Repairs aside for now, the first issue started in November, one of our party suffered a mental breakdown and was advised by his doctor to take some time out from his studies, this meant him leaving Manchester and returning home. A clause in the contract does state that we are allowed to replace tenants on the joint agreement with no mention of any fees. The vacating tenant agreed to keep paying rent until a replacement was found. Within days I'd found a replacement myself, a colleague from work. We visited the city centre branch to fill out the necessary paperwork. We were then surprised to be told that we would EACH have to pay a fee of ‚£100 pounds to have a name replaced on the contract. On asking what this was for we were told it was the standard fee for a new contract; we argued that this was a modification to the existing one but they wouldn't have it. It's understandable that the new party would have to pay a fee for credit checks etc but I can see no reason why the remaining tenants had to pay the same. It seemed this was a money making exercise and Homes4U failed to provide and evidence to the contrary. Again with no option we paid the obscene fee to ensure we still had a roof over our heads.
One week later we received a text from Homes4u stating that a viewing had been arranged on the property. I immediately called Homes4u to discuss this with them. We were only 3 months into the original 12 month fixed term. Homes4U stated that it was normal for views to take place from November onwards for the following student year (September). The contract states the following:
15) When this contract ends
1. You agree to allow us to show future tenants around the Property in the last 28 days of the tenancy, except where the Property in occupied by students, in which case we will conduct viewings starting from the first day of November and continuing until a new tenancy is secured on the Property. We will give you 24 hours' notice if we want to do this.
Again we contacted Homes4U to remind them that we had entered into a joint ‚€‚Ëœassured shorthold tenancy' not a ‚€‚ËœHouse in Multiple Occupation' (HMO) as would be the case in a student let, bearing in mind of course that we were also paying a premium for this to be the case. It should also be noted that only one of the three tenants was a student. Homes4U again stated that there is nothing we can do about this and ƒÂ¢‚€‚Ëœit is what it is'.
We're now March and we have had 10 viewings to date, we currently have a viewing once or twice a week. Of course we can't take time off work to accommodate this on that frequency so essentially this means we have strangers wandering around our bedrooms twice a week without us being present. On three occasions Homes4U have failed to give us the 24 hours' notice required by the contract. A couple of weeks ago they failed to lock the front door upon completing a viewing and left the property unsecure. Last week I asked that a viewing be rescheduled as I had been on nightshift and would be in bed and they refused stating that they'd let themselves in. This we now feel is a clear case of harassment and they are failing to give us ‚€‚Ëœquite enjoyment of the property' our legal right.
Then there is the issue of visiting contractors. With six months now passed since we reported the issues we have ramped up pressure on Homes4U to fix these issues reminding them of their legal obligations. It took a threat of reporting them to the councils environmental health team before they took any notice. So now they are sending contractors round 3 or 4 times a week to '‚€‚Ëœlook' at issues but with no authority or work order to carry out the required repairs. Jointly we have taken around 2 weeks of work to facilitate their visits, around half of the time they don't bother to turn up. Homes4U have stopped managing this themselves and instead have passed my personal contact details (without my authorisation) on to a number of contractors from me to arrange their visits directly.
Last week the leaking en-suite got worse, water is passing through the poorly grouted tiles and saturating the ceiling below. On this occasion water made its way to the light fixture and shorted out, arcing and smoking. I immediately called the agency emergency number (it was a Friday night, out of hours) nobody initially answered but we finally got through 3 hours later. We were then told not to worry about this, it not dangerous as the circuit will trip, they'll try and get somebody to us the following afternoon. I was gob smacked, even when I told them I was an qualified and practising electrician I was told that they know best and not to worry. It wasn't until I threatened to call the fire brigade that they had an electrician call me to discuss the issue over the phone. I eventually isolated the circuit myself with no electrician attending for another 24 hours.
Again last week having been told that the sitting room fire escape window had been fixed I attempted to open it to air the room. The window fell out of its frame onto me. I again contacted their emergency number and they sent somebody out to carry out a repair. I use the term repair lightly though as what they actually did was screw the fire escape window shut. It took another threat of reporting them to the council and 7 days passed before they carried out a safe repair.
Having spoken to a number of contractor now that have attended the property they all say the same thing. Homes4U won't authorise them to carry out the repairs that they report to be required and instead tell them to do the minimum necessary as lowest cost. A first I was blaming the workmanship of shoddy contractor but I can now see that this clearly isn't the case. They are almost as frustrated as I am.
Speaking to Home4U agents on the phone is a distressing experience, they are rude, obnoxious and present a clear disregard for our safety. Cleary profit is put before the safety of the tenants. Our first experience of them was a pleasant one; as soon as the contract was signed though this all changed.
My concern though is we are all mature and know where we stand in terms of our rights and the law. I'm a professional engineer and know what is safe and what isn't despite Homes4U trying to mislead me. Given that Homes4U cater mainly for students I worry about those that don't have the experience to deal with this shambles of a company and recognise the significant risks that Homes4U are quite happy to disregard and say don't worry about that; water saturated electrical fittings, exposed electrical conductors, lack of a gas safety inspection certificate.
We have now reported all of the safety hazards to the council, they have given the landlord 10 days to fix the issues, 7 days have passed but as yet we have not seen any progress. It's then our intention to report Homes4U to the property ombudsman.
In summary our experience of dealing with this agency has been a shambles. It's stressful, depressing, we have genuine concerns for our safety and quite frankly the last few months have been a misery. I can't suggest strongly enough that you steer well clear of Homes4U Manchester.
Comment on agent fees
In November, one of our party suffered a mental breakdown and was advised by his doctor to take some time out from his studies, this meant him leaving Manchester and returning home. A clause in the contract does state that we are allowed to replace tenants on the joint agreement with no mention of any fees. The vacating tenant agreed to keep paying rent until a replacement was found. Within days I¢â‚¬â„¢d found a replacement myself, a colleague from work. We visited the city centre branch to fill out the necessary paperwork. We were then surprised to be told that we would EACH have to pay a fee of ‚£100 pounds to have a name replaced on the contract. On asking what this was for we were told it was the standard fee for a new contract; we argued that this was a modification to the existing one but they wouldn¢â‚¬â„¢t have it. It¢â‚¬â„¢s understandable that the new party would have to pay a fee for credit checks etc but I can see no reason why the remaining tenants had to pay the same. It seemed this was a money making exercise and Homes4U failed to provide and evidence to the contrary. Again with no option we paid the obscene fee to ensure we still had a roof over our heads.
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Was this helpful? Yes
By: Anthony Leach
Mar 18, 2015
Dear Mr Watt
We apologise if you feel you have not received the level of service expected from homes4u as managing agents. We act as agents for private landlords and on the majority of occasions require consent from the landlord to carry out work. I can see from your correspondence with our Property Management Department that many of your points have been raised and responded to. If you feel this is not the case and you would like to raise a formal complaint, please follow our customer care and complaints procedure which is available here http://www.homes4u.co.uk/about-us/.
Regards
Anthony Leach
Operations Manager

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homes4u ltd

Withington House Wilmslow Road Withington, Manchester
Greater Manchester
M20 3FU

0161 448 0090

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