We've been renting the property for over 4 years now and until September last year we've never had the need to contact the agents about repairs. However, in September last year I emailed them with a list of things, large and small, that needed repairing. The major things were a large leak in the bay window, washing machine not draining, and tiles under the shower coming away from the wall.
It took them four weeks to send someone round to look at the faults. I waited a week after the visit and no news from them. Only two of the minor issues had been fixed (though in fixing a cistern overflow, the contractors caused another problem) and I wanted to know what was happening. I was told that they were sending a quote to the landlord for authorisation of the repairs. I was also told that the contractor had found nothing wrong with the washing machine. I explained that there was indeed something wrong with the machine and asked them to send a qualified washing machine engineer around. They said they would send the contractor around again. I said that would be a waste of time as he couldn't find the fault the first time. They insisted. Two weeks later they visit again. I wait a week, no news from the agents and washing machine still not working (I'd even left the error message on the washing machine display to show it wasn't working). I email them again to be told that the contractor had run a full cycle on the machine and nothing was wrong. I have a security camera at the property and looked at the footage. the contractor was there for a full 11 minutes, during which time he fixed a cistern and allegedly ran a full cycle. I pointed out that a full cycle takes over an hour. After a delay they come back to me and say the contractor has changed their story to a full 'rinse' cycle. I pointed out that a full rinse cycle takes 14 mins and insisted that they send a qualified engineer around. They finally did that and it transpires that the motor needed replacing. Finally got done mid-December, nearly 3 months after reporting it and costing the landlord the call out fees for the useless contractor.
Meanwhile, the leak in the bay window was causing problems. Every time it rained, water would poor in under the large fixed pane of glass and pour down the wall, staining the carpet and our own curtains. Not to mention making the floorboards rot. Now you'd think that was urgent eh? In December after many emails asking for updates on the window and other items, we get an email to tell us that the window was worse than they thought and that the roof needed replacing as that was where the leak was coming in. I explained that there was absolutely no water coming in anywhere else and the roof was fine and that the contractors hadn't even had a ladder up to the roof to examine it properly (thanks trusty security camera). All they'd done was lean out a window on the upper floor to look. I was told in no uncertain terms that they believed their contractors assessment and the roof would be replaced, the landlord was happy and that was that as far as they were concerned. I'm sure they never gave the landlord the full facts (he's in Brazil and can't check himself). In January they come and replace they roof. The next day, it rains, and guess what, water pours in under the pain of glass. I email the agents a picture of the leak, before and after, and they say that it is a different leak and the contractors have been given permission to replace the pane of glass. It is not a different leak, it's the same one and the glass doesn't need to be replaced, just the sill needed to be replaced or repaired and resealed. I know about windows, I used to manufacture them in the 80s. I tell them this and simply got a "thanks for your comment" reply. The window is still leaking (27 Jan), four months after I first reported it and the landlord out of pocket because of an unnecessary repair.
Meanwhile again, the contractors came to replace the tiles under the shower nearly 3 weeks ago. I come home from work to find a note saying that they couldn't complete the job in the "barth room" (sic) and they would be back next week to complete. They'd removed the tiles and taped a huge plastic sheet with black duck tape over a metre square area of the wall. Very attractive. I email the agent (again) and am told the tiles are special order and needed to be ordered from the suppliers. Now call me a fool, but surely you don't start a job without knowing you have the materials to finish it. Besides the fact that I heard the contractor on the security recording calling Tops Tiles to ask if they're in stock and then saying he'd be over to collect them. They are just white tiles for goodness sake, not travertine marble. Today (27 Jan) they are supposed to be completing the job.
Another meanwhile, the lino in the bathroom had come unstuck and was causing a trip hazard (in fact I did trip on it and bashed my head on the wall). Relatively easy job you'd think? No, four months later it's still unstuck and the contractors have said (surprise, surprise) that the flooring is beyond repair and needs to be replaced. Utter bunkum, it just needs re-sticking! More unnecessary expense for the landlord.
Yet another meanwhile, aside from the repairs we'd asked for, the agents sent an electrician round to do a safety check in September. All well and good. We don't hear anything and assume it's all hunky dory. Alas not, in December my partner gets a call from the electricians asking if it was ok to come and do some work on the house. Not a wrod from the estate agents about this. My partner asked what needed doing and was told to contact the agents. I emailed (I know the address off by heart now) and was told that the consumer unit needed replacing and some light fittings needed to be earthed. I said that the time wasn't convenient as we were having people to stay. After much toing and froing it was agreed that they would come on 3rd January to do the work. It was also then revealed that rather than just a few light fittings needing earthing, the entire lighting circuit in the four-bedroomed house need rewiring. The electricians arrive on the 2nd Jan, a day before the agents said they would (though they say they agents knew it was the 2nd and not the 3rd).
The electricians were great, but the landlord had decided to do the job on the cheap and instead of chasing the wires into the wall, we now have lovely plastic trunking all over the walls and ceiling, in nearly every room. Where some light switches have been removed, there are now gaping holes in the wall. They removed all the spotlights and replaced with pendant lighting. So we now have holes in the ceiling where they were and dirty marks where the fittings were. We also have some lovely big holes in the ceiling where the electricians had to dig out some wires. Not to mention bare bulbs in nearly every room, it's like living in a squat. I asked the electricians if they knew if their was going to be any redecoration and they said they didn't know (I guess it's not their job so they wouldn't really). After three days of upheaval (I was on annual leave, great way to spend it) they finished. They cleared up their mess as best they could, but it then took me two hours to dust everything down, hoover and wash the floors.
I emailed the agent (yet again) to see if there were any plans to redecorate (there weren't) and why they hadn't arranged for the property to be cleaned after the work. I was told that I should behave in a tenant-like manner and that a bit of hoovering and a flick of a cloth (their words) wasn't too much to ask for. I also asked what was to happen about lampshades as we now had bare bulbs. The agent said to put the shades on from the spotlights. Ludicrous, not only are the shades on a spotlight part of the fixture and too small, the electricians had thrown them out! I patiently (well, not really) explained the situation and was told that maybe I should buy the shades myself and take them with me when I left. I explained that I didn't know if I'd need the shades in my next property and I wanted the landlord to buy them. I was given a generous budget of £40 to buy eight lampshades. Whoopee, Harrods here I come! We were told that the landlord said we could have the place redecorated, but by this time my partner and I had decided that we didn't want more upheaval and would find somewhere else to live instead.
One of the original faults reported, was that the electric heater in the bathroom had stopped working. I'd been trying to get the agents to have it repaired before Christmas as we had elderly relatives staying and the bathroom was freezing in the morning. I got know response to that, so got an electrician friend of mine in to fix it for no charge, just before Christmas. I told the agents this. When the electricians arrived to do the major work, they said they were removing the heater in the bathroom as it didn't meet the required standards and that it was in the list of works given to the agents. They were not going to replace it. I said that could they please replace it as it was our only source of heat in there. Fortunately they managed to do that within the original budget.
I emailed the office after the work had been completed, asking why we hadn't been informed of the work, and the extent of it, in advance. I didn't get an explanation for that, or an apology. I also asked why they hadn't told me the heater was being removed when I was asking for it to be repaired. They said that they weren't electricians and so wouldn't have known from the list of works sent to them by the electricians what it meant. I think "heater needs replacing or removal" is fairly easy to understand for a lay person.
During the many email exchanges I was told that they didn't work for me and only had to answer to the landlord. I said that they should have their clients best interests at heart and not charge him for unnecessary work. They simply said that they have used their contractors for years and trusted them.
I asked why I had to keep chasing them for updates all the time and they said that they had hundreds of properties to manage and didn't have the time to keep me updated on every little thing.
Another issue is that a gas safety check was undertaken in August, but we were totally unaware that this had happened. The contractor had entered the property without any notification from the agent, a breach of the tenancy agreement, and it wasn't until I asked about a lack of gas safety certificate in October (another breach of the agreement) that I was told a check had taken place. Their excuse was that the contractor had tried to call to arrange a visit. We never had a call and surely it's up to the agents to notify us? (as they'd done in writing every year beforehand).
On another issue. A week ago we get an email from their credit office saying that our December rent hadn't been paid and we needed to pay immediately by debit card. We panicked a bit and then checked our on-line statement. The money had left our account on the usual monthly date on 21 Dec. We send a copy of the statement via email and ask them to look into it. meanwhile, over the next few days we get letters asking us to pay the rent. I hear nothing from them, so send an email asking what's happening. I get an email back to say that they payment came into their account on 20/01/2012, nearly a month after it left our account. I said that was impossible and could they check to see what had happened. I get a reply saying that was definitely the date it had reached their account. I ask them to double check and see why it took so long. Nothing back. I then get my back to check. They email me to say they'd spoken to KFH's bank and it had been credited to their client's account on 23/12/2011. I forward this to KFH and they apologise saying that it had be credited to a different property. So not a month to get into their account then. If I hadn't chased, they'd still be sticking to the month-long journey between accounts story.
And finally (breathe a sigh of relief) on Tuesday, the agents send me an email, though it's not for me, sent in error it seems. It's a long email string between KFH and another tenant with personal details, etc. Clear breach of the Data Protection Act and makes you wonder how secure your data is with KFH? I have alerted the subject of the emails of their breach.
Basically, because of all this we are going to look for somewhere else to live. KFH neither care for the tenants under their charge or the best interests of the landlords who pay them a hefty management fee.
Avoid at all costs.