I had a very large number of issues with this letting agency, as a tenant.
Upon arriving to view and sign for the property, I was told that the deposit must, and would, be placed into the government protection scheme. I was given a leaflet all about it. I didn\'t know much about different letting types, and it turned out this was a lie for my type of agreement. I felt reassured that any disputes would be handled by a third party as a result of this arrangement, which is why I was blindsided at the end of my tenancy.
I thought I was safe because they assured me it was required by law and it would help me to sort things out in case of dispute.
The first problem came when I decided it was time to leave, found another property, and gave them my month\'s notice. I told them that they would probably get a call regarding a reference. Turns out that they charge a ridiculous fee for providing a reference (a 2 minute phone call), something like £20 or £30 + vat. I asked around and no other letting agencies I spoke to did this.
I tidied the room I was renting until you could have eaten off the floor, and double checked the contract. The contract also mentioned keeping the garden tidy, and despite it being a shared property, I decided I wouldn\'t risk it and cut all the grass, trimmed the hedges, and weeded the paths.
When I moved in, I was provided with some basic bedding. I didn\'t use most of it, and left it sealed in the original packaging. The bedding I did use (as the items I had were for a double bed, and this was a single), I washed and left to dry at the end of my tenancy. I informed the landlady of this fact as I left.
I was unable to be present for my inspection, because I was working about an hour\'s drive away. I didn\'t expect this to be a problem. I had photographed every possible angle of the room as I left it, and it looked immaculate.
I received an invoice prior to the final inspection. One of the items was \'Mandatory Carpet Cleaning, £35 + VAT + admin fee + VAT\'. The carpet did not need cleaning, and I triple checked my contract. No mention of carpet cleaning being required (My current place has stated it\'s a requirement to moving out). I was skeptical about this, as they hadn\'t even inspected the room at this point.
I then received a call saying that they wanted £10 + vat + admin fee + vat for \'Miscellaneous cleaning\', plus the carpet cleaning fee. Plus the reference fee.
I explained that the room was left in perfect condition, and there was no mention of mandatory carpet cleaning. They said \'The room had a bad smell\'. This was a blatant lie, and they contracted it themselves later on. I insisted on photographs showing what needed cleaning, and they sent back the most low-resolution picture of the windows that I have ever seen. You couldn\'t make anything out at all. I had full photographs of everything including the windows, which showed they were immaculate.
They then sent a letter saying please sign to confirm you agree, if you have any dispute please write back within I think 5 days. I immediately wrote a response saying that I contest this because it\'s ridiculous.
I then got an angry response, saying I left the carpet dirty and so I must pay for mandatory carpet cleaning. No mention of the mysterious smell, and if it was dirty, they would have said so to begin with. Again, I had photographic evidence showing it was immaculate, but they weren\'t interested.
More letters were exchanged. They then said the mandatory carpet cleaning was for health and safety reasons. They also included a letter from the landlady that basically accused me of being a terrible tenant and that I didn\'t even return the original linen. They said that I should be grateful the fee was so small. I explained that I would probably be taking them to court, and they just continued to argue. At no point were they understanding or civil.
I thought it particularly infuriating they would charge an admin fee on the \'mandatory\' carpet cleaning, eg. you must pay for this item and we are going to charge a fee on top so that we directly profit from it.
In the end I compiled all of the documentation and photographs and went to see about taking them to court, but the court fee wasn\'t much lower than the amount I would gain if I won, and taking the time off work just made it not worth it. It would not surprise me if they knew this and thus pushed the extra fees upon all tenants.
If you\'re a prospective tenant, I would implore you to find a better letting agency. I\'ve used a few others in Bristol and they have all been outstanding. If you\'re a potential landlord, I would ask you to consider a less shady company, if not for your own sake, then for the sake of your tenants.
What agent could do to change your mind?
Try to be honest and up-front with tenants. If this review dissuades a single person from using your services, it\'s entirely possible it will negate the money that you clawed from me, so think more about your reputation.
Consider being much politer in communication and more understanding. Imagine if you\'d not tried to scam me, I\'d probably be writing a 5 star review and recommending you to friends.
Underhanded tactics like charging an extortionate fee for a reference might net you some short term profit, but it\'s going to put people off in the long term through word of mouth and reviews. If someone does take you to court, many of the practices above violate the terms of the organisations you belong to (believe me, I read all of their guidelines thoroughly when compiling data to take you to court), and a copy of the court results sent to them through their official complaints channel could possibly result in losing these statuses.