I was very surprised to learn someone gave "five-stars" to this company. I would not dare to give it a single star but OK I may be biased. They do have accommodation to rent - if you don't mind waiting for their exhaustive selection process to run its course and be prepared for the worst...
Before ¢â‚¬Å“joining the long queue¢â‚¬Â you will need to pay a week's deposit (amount depending on what studio you chose) plus £50 or £70 for administration purposes, both of which you will loose if you become too impatient and "abandon the long queue" and/or get fed up with the long wait or find something else in the meantime...
Please note these monies cannot be paid in cash, debit card or cheque! They have to be deposited in their bank account by you. Their bank is about 15 minutes walk from their office. in Gloucester Terrace. Allow another 10 minutes for queuing if the HSBC Paddington branch happens to be busy and another 15 back.
If you pay close attention to what is going in the office, you may discover (as I did) that the particular studio/bedsitter you might be interested in, is being advertised, offered and shown to many other prospective tenants simultaneously, so while you and others are kept waiting for ¢â‚¬Å“The Director's¢â‚¬Â nod of acceptance/rejection all these deposits are earning interest and enhancing the company credit ratings - my assumption.
OK, perhaps while they are processing documentation and checking references, they need to keep the applications going as the outcome remains unknown until it receives their unpredictable director's seal of approval? Draw your own conclusions¢â‚¬Â¦.
To keep you ¢â‚¬Å“entertained¢â‚¬Â (while you wait), you will also be asked to put together so much personal and financial information (including bank statements!), that you may feel you are in risk of having your identity stolen ¢â‚¬â€œ should it all fall into the wrong hands.
Here is an example of what you will need (quoted in passing from a full A4 page they will provide you with). You may not have encountered anything quite like it.
Passport, national insurance card, current landlord reference (with tenancy dates, rent, amount specific to applicant if more than one tenant, date tenancy ends, and move out terms), bank account statement, credit report from Experia or equivalent, current employer reference (with title, salary, dates of employment and latest pay slip), proof of funds equivalent to triple rental amount.
If you are a student, you need proof of that, and you will require a guarantor i.e someone that will pay the rent for you if you fail or are unable to. Your parents may or may not meet their strict criteria. Guarantors will need to provide roughly the same evidence as in the self-employment case: proof of ownership of UK property, proof of monthly and annual income, profit and loss statement from independent source, bank statements, Companies House registration number and copy of certificate, accountant reference, etc.
If you are planning to count on housing benefit, forget it! ¢â‚¬Å“We don't like people on housing benefits!¢â‚¬Â they will tell you upfront - a moral judgment, which is one-step ahead (or behind) local government's¢â‚¬Â¦.
To prove that you can pay the rent a month in advance (e.g. £100 plus/week) and give them an interest earning six-weeks deposit will not be enough! In fact I could have paid them 6-month rent in advance if necessary.
My references were impeccable. I had enough money to pay the on going rent - in fact more than enough credit to pay one year of it in advance if necessary! After more than a week waiting I was ¢â‚¬Å“rejected¢â‚¬Â. As it turned out, I ended up with a less ¢â‚¬Å“paranoid¢â‚¬Â estate agent in a much better area (Belsize Park) but I wasted two precious weeks with Compatriot Holdings going through their complex allocation procedure or "con" - as another frustrated prospective customer put it.
Compatriot Holdings, is a family owned company and this, according to their contracted staff, explains their preposterous, overcautious approach. They own the properties (¢â‚¬Â¦)
The young employees that show you around are very keen, friendly and helpful, but they do not make decisions. ¢â‚¬Å“The Director¢â‚¬Â - a woman sitting behind the scenes, does. Another ¢â‚¬Å“dissatisfied customer¢â‚¬Â (Dario) who accidentally met her, by inadvertently walking into her office, describes the lady as an ¢â‚¬Å“unpleasant hologram sitting at a desk with a witches' hat and a banner that reads: ¢â‚¬Å“Caution! Feminine logic at work!¢â‚¬Â which sounded more like a male chauvinist's joke than a factual description.Still ... an image worth keeping in mind...
At the end of their exhaustive ¢â‚¬Å“selection procedure¢â‚¬Â they will return your deposit. They will do so with a cheque that you will have to collect ¢â‚¬Å“two or three days later¢â‚¬Â then allow another week for the cheque to clear. Keep taking deep breaths and hoping for the best (think: worst).
Scott, one of their tenants living at Clanricarde Gardens told me she had to wait years to have some urgent repairs made in her studio and in the end had to complain to the Council to have the issues addressed. It took them another one and a half years to do so (...) She told me this: ¢â‚¬Å“Compatriot Holdings are a caricature of the new London feudal landlords (who) They treat their tenants as some kind of a lower caste. Not customers.¢â‚¬Â¦¢â‚¬Â
Disclaimer: My personal experience could have been an exception rather than the rule. Please feel free to contact this company. Best of luck (...)
What agent could do to change your mind?
Although I appreciate the fact landlords must do their best to ensure their rents are consistently paid and cover for the eventuality the tenant might be devious the complex and time-consuming selection procedure and safeguards this company resorts to amounts to harassment and invasion of privacy. E.g. I could have paid them 6-months rent in advance (for a 6-month contract) plus 6 weeks on top as deposit and have a Barclaycard with ‚£5000 credit! That for them was not good enough. I was rejected as a tenant for a bedsitter worth less than ‚£100 a week. I mean how petty can landlords get and get away with it?