We used Michael Graham Stony Stratford as letting agents while we were overseas for 3 years.
As soon as our tenants moved in we started to receive requests such as you need to replace the cooker as it's broken which in actual fact just amounted to the tenant not having reset the timer switch. However, what was very clear was that the Michael Graham team were merely acting as a conduit for messages while making no effort whatsoever to actually resolve anything themselves.
Whenever we asked for information they always had to go back to the tenant which again indicated that they'd just relayed the tenants' complaints and made no effort themselves to act as our agent and either try and resolve the issue or obtain enough information for us to make an informed decision.
Indeed, whenever I challenged staff on what value they were adding it seemed to come as a surprise that acting as an agent meant anything more than just passing messages from the tenants to us.
After 9 months overseas my wife returned to the UK on business and visited our house. She saw evidence of muddy bikes being ridden over our (light coloured) carpets inside the house and asked that the agent be more careful in inspecting the house in future.
Unfortunately over the next couple of years the periodic inspection reports amounted to no more than the house is being maintained in a good condition and were otherwise completely uninformative.
Each time we called the office we talked to someone different who seemed equally unaware of what was expected of an agent and it often felt as if we were having to train them by telephone.
It was only as our return to the UK neared and we got a tenant request to renew the electrical certification 6 months early that we discovered that the tenant had installed a jacuzzi (in a grade 2 listed building) and that they had bodged an electrical spur to power the jaccuzzi and the lights (and presumably wanted us to pay to have it done properly in order to achieve certification again).
In addition it transpired that (grade 2 listed) woodwork had been whitewashed over, the tenants had built in their own modern wardrobes and a host of other changes had been made. Numerous personal items of ours that had been left in the attic or in a storage shed were missing (my daughter's football goal was found smashed to pieces in bushes over the back garden fence), paving had been smashed and removed to make more parking space and numerous fencing panels had been kicked out to create access for the tenants children to a council play park behind the house.
All in all Michael Graham Stony Stratford had demonstrated gross negligence and incompetence throughout and could not recommend their letting business to anyone.
Comment on agent fees
100 pounds per month, but virtually no value provided for that fee