Aug 09,2012
Aug 09,2012
11 people found
this helpful
I really hope Andrew Black reads this because I have been desperately trying to get hold of a Director from your company and all of your staff at West Hampstead seem ridiculously determined to keep you from hearing this information... Please see below a complaint letter I wrote and sent for your intention but I assume has been kept from you. Both my former flatmate and especially me have received appalling customer service from your West Hampstead branch in particular by Jennifer Powell, who I can only say is the rudest and laziest person I have ever dealt with in both my personal and professional life. Furthermore, Chris, who I have been told is the branch manager spoke to me rudely I felt like I was a rabid dog... and my former landlord MR. JONATHAN PARR is the rudest, most arrogant, idiosyncratic man I have ever dealt with! He has insulted me repeatedly via email for insisting he take money from my deposit to cover the rent from a huge mistake the West Hampstead branch made. I am outraged at my experience with your agency and not only will never use your company again but have been turned off from using all agencies in the future. I can only ask that you focus a little bit more on customer service and train your staff efficiently because the level of service they offer is on par with that of the way one would treat a flea-bitten stranded dog in the middle of the street. Quite frankly, I\'d rate your West Hampstead branch a big NEGATIVE TEN. Please see below for the letter which you were meant to receive and I presume didn\'t:

Dear Sir:

I am sorry to have to write this long and very serious complaint about your West Hampstead office. I will try to make it as to the point and professional as possible but both my ex-flatmate and my emotions are running quite high at the moment. We both feel that we have been given the most atrocious and lackadaisical service possible and are quite upset. I think you and your directors should be aware that this is a very serious matter and that at present neither of us will be recommending or using the Black Katz service in the future. I was given your email address by a lovely gentlemen named George in your Camden office who was kind enough to direct me to you and assured me you would bring this email to the attention of your Directors on Monday.

I have just had a rather disturbing and heated phone conversation with Chris, whom is a manager at your West Hampstead branch. My former flatmate Michael J. Puniskis and I, Jason C. Darosa have been working diligently to secure a new tenancy for the flat at 52 Greencroft Gardens. However, as a result of the poor service and unprofessionalism of this branch it has become increasingly difficult to secure one. About two months after we moved in Mike and I began having personal issues and I contacted both Jennifer and the landlord to say that I was considering moving out of the flat. Again she told me the procedure I would need to follow in order to transfer my name from the lease onto someone else and I told her I would speak to Mike about it. At this point, I was under the impression that Mike could afford to stay in the flat by himself as he had secured a new job. Jennifer later called me and advised me that I should try and speak to Mike and sort it out because he didn\'t make enough income to support himself and attempted to convince me to just stay in the flat and try to work things out. However, after a period of about two more months the situation remained the same and I again tried to seek Jennifer\'s efforts and advise to try and get myself out and a new tenant into the flat. After a few discussions with my former flatmate Mike, we came to somewhat of an agreement of the steps we would take in order to find a new tenant. He begin looking immediately and sent over two different candidates to Jennifer in order for her to carry out her reference checks. At this point, Mike and I weren\'t communicating very regularly and were working different shift patterns and I also went travelling for two weeks so I was kept pretty much out of the loop in terms of what was going on with the new tenant\'s reference checks. After emailing Jennifer whilst I was on holiday, I became aware of the fact that the prospective tenant had pulled out and she informed me that Mike was trying to find a new one. Mike has documentary proof where this tenant pulled out because the reference checks were taking too long. We have also become aware and this former prospective tenant is prepared to provide documentary evidence that Black Katz warned him of Mike and I\'s personal situation and disclosed to him that we were having problems which is why I was moving out. Mike and I feel that this was not their place to disclose our personal situation as neither Mike nor Myself authorised them to do so. This is extremely unethical, unprofessional and a breach of privacy and both Mike and I are extremely offended by their actions.

This week I was informed that a new tenant had been found and that Jennifer Powell was conducting reference checks on the prospective tenant. However, Jennifer went on holiday for ten days and we were told by her that there was no one in the office who would be there to complete the reference checks whilst she was gone. Both Mike and I felt this was a bit odd since your company reputes itself on securing tenancies every 50 minutes. Surely there was someone who was taking over in part to secure flats for new prospective tenants. After a bit of hassle and multiple phone calls, Mike arranged with someone else from the office to conduct the reference checks on the tenant for Greencroft Gardens who I have come to know as, Brian. It has taken over one week for these references to be made and from I believe to be little effort on the part of the West Hampstead office as I\'ve been told even though they had phone numbers for Brian\'s references the only effort they made to validate these references was lasily through email. I personally rang Jennifer on Wednesday who had just returned from her holiday, and she informed me that the reference checks had been completed and her exact words to me were that Mike and Brian had come to the office and signed the papers for the new lease. She then asked that I come as soon as possible to sign the papers so we could move the tenancy over to Brian. Later that day, uncertain about how my deposit would be paid out to me, I rang her back saying I didn\'t feel comfortable signing over my lease without the security of knowing when I\'d be getting my deposit back. Her exact words to me were: "Brian is a very level headed guy and I\'m sure he will pay the deposit to you in due time." She also stated that "if I didn\'t sign the papers I would still be on the lease and accountable for the rent" alluding to the fact that both Brian and Mike signed the papers and it was up to me in order to complete the transfer of the tenancy and move on.

I went into today to sign the papers and everything seemed to be in order. Jennifer was very polite to me when face to face and most probably relieved that I was signing the papers and the whole ordeal would be put to rest. I left after signing the lease over the Mike and Brian and returned to Greencroft Gardens to gather my last few items and hoover the floor to what I know believed to be Brian\'s new bedroom. About 45 minutes after leaving the West Hampstead office I got a phone call from a very rude and abrupt Jennifer Powell who informed me that Brian had pulled out of the tenancy, had not actually signed anything, and that I was still liable for the flat. I proceeded to tell her that I put all of my things into storage and made additional arrangements in order to vacate the premises by today, 2nd August 2012. She then told me she didn\'t know what to say to me and that there was nothing she could do as Brian had pulled out because his company was meant to be paying for the flat and in the end (after two weeks of referencing, etc. and my signing of papers and being led to believe by Jennifer, herself that everything was fine) the budget was too high than what they were prepared to pay for him. Jennifer was very ubrupt and I was flabbergasted as the room is empty now and I have suffered putting everything I own in storage. I have also been informed that Brian said that if the checks had finished just a few days earlier than everything would have been find be he ended up finding more affordable accommodation in the mean time which is why his work decided the budget for Greencroft Gardens was too high.

I then called back and asked to speak to Chris, the manager. Jennifer was again extremely rude and asked why I wanted to speak to him and that he wouldn\'t be able to do much more for me than he could. However, I insisted, as is my right as a CLIENT to speak to him. He came to the phone very defensive and rude and used the personal situation between Mike and I to try and make me feel that it was my fault. He told me that the reason we couldn\'t get tenants was because of the communication and deteriorating relationship between Mike and I and even went as far as to psychoanalse us and tell us that we needed to look internally at the situation. He went even further as to say that if he were a tenant he wouldn\'t want to move into the flat either and that we had created a "spooky" environment in the flat. He has no basis for these accusations as neither he nor Jennifer or anyone else in that branch has had anything to do with the placement of the advert or the interviewing of the prospective tenants or even the viewings of the flat themselves. Furthermore, I informed him that I\'ve never even been present when the viewings took place and hadn\'t met, seen, or spoken to any of the prospective tenants that have come to view the flat or the ones Mike has brought forward to Black Katz to do reference checks. I have had no part whatsoever and neither Mike nor myself disclosed our personal situation to anyone except for Black Katz so his insinuations and allegations are being taken as very offensive by both Mike and myself. Furthermore because I was verbally led to believe by Jennifer that everything was in order I have made other accomdations and suffered expense in order to remove my belongings from the property and make it inhabitable for someone else. To my dismay, as the most recent grievance, even though Mike is working diligently to get someone else into this property I will be out rent from my deposit because of the slow and unsatisfactory service I am now effectively losing money from my deposit in order to supplement the rent which I can longer pay due to my finances going out to vacate the flat. This is really, exceptionally disappointing. Please note that as of 11 am on 2nd August 2012 I vacated the premises and am no longer residing there. Jennifer should have never stated that both Mike and Brian had signed the papers and that I just needed to sign in order to transfer the lease over if this was not the case. This can be used as a verbal agreement or contract between Jennifer and I especially considering I went down and signed the contract myself. Alternatively, she should have been honest with me and stated that Brian had not signed and that flat was still unsecure in due course so I could have made alternative arrangements, myself.

Just so you aware of the entirety of the situation and to give you a comprehensive background of where we are at the problems began at the end of January 2012 on our very first visit to the West Hampstead office. My former flatmate and I approached Black Katz due the reputation the other offices had, seeking their services in renting a flat. We were taken by a young gentleman to 52 Greencroft Gardens which we both felt would be an appropriate place to live and just met our budget which we were quoted as being between per week. We agreed on the property at that price however once taken back to the office the young gentleman who was originally helping us sat back whilst one of his colleagues who seemed to be of higher ranking took over what felt to be the \'sale\' of the property and he and Chris who I believe to be a Manager at this establishment sat there and we felt they bullied us into a higher quote of 350 per week. Both Mike and I were so overwhelmed we agreed and Mike paid both of our portions of the administration fees in order secure the flat so they wouldn\'t show it to anyone else. The office then told us that they would be contacting us later that evening once they had gotten a response from the landlord, Jonathan Parr to see if he would accept our offer. I informed them that I would be at work that evening and wouldn\'t be able to answer my phone but to please contact my flatmate Mike who would be working from his flat. Later that evening whilst working my phone rang three times from Black Katz who kept berating me whilst I was trying to work trying to get us to up our offer. Both Mike and I were not prepared to do that. I can respect that as agents there is an element of sales that goes into these matters but the entirety of the situation was just handled so unprofessionally and they were so pushy it really put both of us off. After discussing it with Mike, I can\'t remember if I emailed or rang back but I spoke to Chris and told him that we both felt a bit overwhelmed at that we were already pushed into accepting a price after we were quoted a different one and that we wanted to retract the offer. Chris said he would discuss with the landlord and ring us back. He indeed rang back and suddenly after about two days of pestering both Mike and I to raise our offer, an offer that was 10 to 15 pounds above the original quoted price per week, that the landlord would be happy to accept the offer of 350 per week and we needed to come in and sign the papers. When we went in we met with Jennifer Powell who guided us through all of the paperwork and at that point also explained what the procedure would be if one of us wanted to break the lease early: that we would need to find a suitable tenant who would need to pass the reference checks and pay an administration fee in order to replace one of us on the lease (I will get to why this is important later). Both Mike and I still felt a bit uneasy after paying our deposits but we trusted Black Katz reputation in the London area and hoped we were in good hands. This was just a preview of the horrific service we would suffer at the hands of your West Hampstead office.

Jennifer took absolute ages to do our reference checks. The entirety of the checks took 2 weeks and what I personally felt evaded my privacy and made both Mike and I feel like we were having criminal checks done against us. I can respect that Jennifer has to be very thorough in her job but by the end Jennifer had seen nearly an entire years worth of my bank statements, had personal details of deposits made by freelance clients I had worked with and made me feel as if my entire life had been exposed. If she at any point had any question that we were not suitable tenants then she should have told us and we could have pulled out and moved on like we originally wanted to. I consistently followed up with Jennifer and nearly every time I emailed her she emailed back asking for even more information. At one point, and I do have this email saved, I told her that if the checks were going to take much longer and if there was further information needed that Mike and I were thinking of pulling out because we felt that the whole process was getting rather daunting. Ironically, Jennifer wrote back and said they had all the information she needed and that we had passed and just needed to come down and to sign the rest of the papers and move into the flat.

Furthermore, at various points during our tenancy to date we have either had to or been advised by our landlord, Jonathan Parr who travels for work, to contact Black Katz regarding issues that have come up with the maintenance of the flat. The flat was checked by Black Katz prior to both of us moving in and they assured us everything was in working order. However, the dryer on the washing machine has never worked and I wrote several emails about this and our boiler began making loud noises and shutting off the heat to our water supply back in April/May. Regarding the boiler, Jonathan asked that we contact Jennifer as Black Katz had handled the maintenance checks and upon doing so we received an email from Jennifer stating that Black Katz did not manage the property and that we would need to contact Jonathan. So began the run around which we have come to expect as the usual service of your West Hampstead branch. It took Jonathan himself sending several emails to Jennifer to get her to arrange someone to come out and replace the boiler. Moreover, It took over a week for someone to come out which left us with cold water for several consecutive days with an email from Jennifer to Mike apologising for it taking to long because "She forgot about it".

In light of all of this, even though Mike and I have had our differences we have been in contact all day and have agreed to stick together on this matter because we both feel that the situation has been treated very unprofessionally and with little care by Black Katz West Hampstead. We are both prepared to seek legal action and will be contacting Trading Standards within the week. Mike is also passing on his feedback of the poor service to our landlord Jonathan Parr so he is fully aware of the situation as a client of the West Hampstead branch. Mike has also agreed to back me up in any way in the case that we need to take this matter further in order to secure the finances I have lost due to the West Hampstead branch\'s appaulling customer service and diligence to do their job in a timely and professional matter. Mike and I both have a plethora of documentary evidence to support our claims including correspondence between Black Katz and ourselves, as well as statements, emails, and text messages from prospective tenants regarding Black Katz poor service and unprofessionalism in this matter. We both hope we can resolve this with all of our dignity intact and hope that the Directors who read this realise what a serious situation this has become. I have provided both Mike\'s and myself\'s contact information at the bottom of this page for future correspondence.


Jason C. Darosa and M.J.P

Flat 1, 52 Greencroft Gardens
What agent could do to change your mind?
Do their job and act like a human being, for starters.
Was this helpful? Yes
By: Jason
Aug 16, 2012

So many excuses. It was your job to help me. The contract states quite clearly that I have the right to break the contract at any point provided I find a suitable tenant to take over the lease which I did. You can say what you want but it was not by any means Help you offered and I would question whether all of the good reviews are even valid. I wouldn't be surprised if your staff did it themselves especially since ironically only a few days after I posted this comment a mysterious good review appeared praising Paul and Jennifer at the West Hampstead branch. Perhaps you and your team should look up the definition of 'help' because that is not what occurred here. I can only hope that people will read this and the plethora of other negative comments and steer clear so that don't have to go through the hell that myself and my former flatmate did. It's been over a week since I moved out of that horrible property and had any contact with your agency and let me tell you.... What a relief!
By: andrew
Aug 14, 2012
We have now had the opportunity to review the file and speak to all those involved.
We recently celebrated our 20th year and have as a company become more and more customer service driven and work very hard at it which is why we receive so many good reviews and therefore were truly shocked to receive your complaint. In particular your personal attacks on the Team Administrator Jennifer of being "rudest" and "laziest" and the Branch Manager Chris of being "rude" . However, all we can find evidence of is an office that tried to HELP YOU. YOU unilaterally decided that you wanted to break the legally binding agreement that you had entered into and all we did was try to HELP in this matter, the only human accidental error we made was when a prospective tenant was found we stated they had signed a contract when they were still considering matters but we never said it was a done deal as we always inform tenants a deal is only done when the landlord signs; maybe we should have simply done what some agents do and simply said tough, you are in a legally binding contract and it is your problem but no we tried to HELP YOU. When that help did not get the desired results you demanded you decided to libellous all those around you - but the simple fact is none of this would have occured if YOU had simply stuck to the legally binding agreement to which you signed. We find your attack offensive and unjustified and would welcome the intervention of any third parties you choose from trading standards to the property ombudman as we are 100% confident they would reach the same conclusion as us. We finish with the words that we have put in capitals "HELP YOU" - which is what we did and this is what we get in return! ANDREW BLACK
By: Jason
Aug 13, 2012
Hi Andrew,

Thank you for your comments.

1. Your email was never made available to me now was I ever directed to the website to find it. If I'd had known I'd have emailed you directly. However your staff went to great lengths, in my opinion to keep my case from getting to you. I had to call another branch to even get someone to tell me they would forward the claims to you and was given an email address to Zia, a manager of your Camden branch. I then emailed Zia who then forwarded it to Paul when I specifically asked it to be forwarded to you. Furthermore, when I followed up with Zia to see if he'd forwarded my complaints to you he didn't even bother to reply. Instead I received an email from Paul Crook disregarding my complaints and stating that he was a director and insinuated that there wasn't anyone else to complain to which I found odd because I was told he was a manager previously not a director. What makes matters worse is that you have just stated now that your email address is very accessible so why wasn't I informed of this when I asked to complain to the directors in the first instance? You say you pride yourselves on customer service but handling complaints is part of customer service (I should know because I work in customer service) and yet my complaints were dodged an guided into dead ends to fall on deaf ears. You may not have even seen my complaint if I hadn't stumbled upon this website.

2. You say you do not manage the property and technically since my landlord seems to not want to pay extra to have you do that than I suppose you don't but tell me this .... When the landlord isn't accessible then who does manage the property? Surely it is the company go handles the contracts no? Moreover, I suggest you screen and communicate with your landlord a bit better because we were repeatedly directed to Black Katz by our landlord. He must seem to think that you do manage the property. It seems, based on other complaints I have read on this website that this is a common occurrence with your agency. That landlord aren't accessible and then your rather pathetic excuse is that you don't manage the property... Well perhaps ethically as a company you shouldn't be involved with landlords that aren't available to their tenants or brush them off onto you because it seems to create a cycle of problems.

3. I was indeed in a fixed term lease of 18 months because your sales people (I dare not all them agents after my experience with them) led us to believe we'd get a better deal if we signed a fix term for a longer period which we did not as you can clearly see in my letter to you because not only did they raise the price on us but they attempted to raise it again after we foolishly agreed to go with the higher price even though they had quoted us one that was cheaper. Furthermore your sales people DID NOT seem sympathetic AT ALL especially towards the end I was spoken to like I was a rabid dog and both my former flatmate and I treated like we were gigantic burdens on your west hampstead branch as is clearly illustrated by Chris and my conversation which I discuss in detail in the letter. Furthermore I am getting quite sick of every single person I've spoken to trying to make this out like you guys were doing me a favour by letting me out of the lease.... It states right in the contract that's one of us could leave at any time of we found a suitable landlord approved tenant to take over the lease. THAT, Sir, is my RIGHT as a tenant. Not to mention if your West Hampstead branch had done their job the. They would have had a tenant in ample of time and none of this would have happened. Funny enough it took my former flatmate and myself to complain several different times and stres the urgency of the situation and Jennifer was able to do the reference check and approve the tenant in LESS THAN 24 HOURS!!! Tell me why on earth it took 2 weeks or more to do it with previous tenants?!

All I seem to keep hearing is excuses, excuses and quite frankly more excuses so I really hope that you can come back to me with something more substantial.
By: andrew
Aug 13, 2012
Good afternoon,
I am sorry that you have had reason to complain and have asked for a full response from the West Hampstead Branch. However to clarify some points.
1. My email is freely avaiable and any complaint logged on our website goes immediately to me so you should not have a problem contacting me.
2. We do not manage the property.
3. You entered into a fixed term contract which you then wanted to break; in such situations we do all we can to be understanding and helpful of your situation but ultimately like any contract you are committed to it unless by agreement with all parties. What I am saying is that we will always be sympathetic but it is your contract.
I am sorry that you have needed to complain and will come back to you.

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Black Katz

199B Westend Lane West Hampstead, London
Greater London

020 7328 5000

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