Northwood like to market themselves as a fairly upmarket, "Above board" company and this was one of the reasons I was interested in letting through them. I am a single mother with two girls under two and despite the option of funded childcare, on account of jobs in Hull being extremely thin on the ground in the current climate, coupled with the fact that I am keen to be around for my girls\' early years, I would have been paying my rent via DSS.
When I initially made contact with the agency regarding the property in question, the FIRST thing I asked was whether or not the landlord would be willing to accept Local housing allowance (a question I reiterated during my first viewing). After being assured that this wasn\'t an issue, and after multiple "follow up" calls from the man who showed me round reminding me that I had "seemed interested" in the house and asking whether I would like to take it further, (the property had been on the market for nine months) I collected an application form to fill in and began the process of, if you like, "registering my interest". Upon reading through the forms, I realised that my obtaining contents insurance was a stipulation of the contract and although this is not the norm in Hull, I did a bit of research and came to the conclusion that I was perfectly willing to do so, providing I could perhaps negotiate the rent down by the amount I had been quoted as it was already at the very top of my budget. I rang the agency back and made my proposal. After being told by the receptionist that she would contact the landlord straight away, two days later I found myself ringing again to check up on the progress of my request. I was promptly informed that the landlord was willing to lower the rent but that there were two conditions. One was that I moved in before Christmas, which I was happy to do, and two was that I would go in to the agency and meet the director of the branch so that he could effectively "size me up" as a tenant. I was happy to do so on the basis that I would be meeting and speaking to someone face to face, not least because I was interested to know whether or not the house had been effected by the 2007 floods after seeing a Hull city council flood map through friends and knowing for certain that the street the property was on had been hit very badly. During the meeting I was quizzed extensively by the "director" and answered all his questions obligingly. I was told that providing I could have my DSS payments sent straight to the landlord, and also send evidence of how I had worked out my budgeting, there should be no problem with the letting going ahead.After he had finished asking all of his questions, I asked him about the flooding and was met with, in retrospect, an extremely evasive answer. a) claiming that he had no idea whether the house had been flooded previously and b) that the floods had been a "freak weather occurance" which he HIMSELF had had to be assured of when looking for a location for the compamy offices (how convenient.) Never the less, upon completion of my interview (and after arranging a second viewing for the coming Thursday), I went home that evening and dutifully emailed all the relevant information only to hear absolutely NOTHING from the company (again). My meeting had been on the Tuesday and I rang three times through the week to follow up on whether or not my email had been received, only to be met with extremely vague responses which culminated, consistently, in the promise of a call back which never came. After the weekend, when I had all my relevant proofs, my initial fee and the application forms filled out and ready to go(mine and my homeowner guarantors) I rang AGAIN to inquire as to the progress of my requests and to see whether or not all the relevant information had been received. After what came across initially as the, now almost expected, fob off and after being put on hold for a suspiciously long amount of time, I was eventually told that the director had been planning on getting in touch with me that afternoon to let me know that, magically, over the weekend, someone in full time work had snapped up the property after the extensive period it had spent unoccupied. It is fruitless to attempt to elaborate on how much I had been keen on the property or how I had been able to picture my family in it because it is irrelevant in this situation beyond the fact that disappointment was an extra blow, but when I went on the website I had found the property through and discovered that it had been relisted on the Thursday I\'d been for my second viewing AT THE PRICE I HAD NEGOTIATED IT DOWN TO, it is safe to say I was less than impressed. In my opinion, if the landlord had been willing to let the house for a reduced rent then either he or someone from the company might have thought suggest that, as opposed to me doing it FOR them. Secondly, if the landlord would rather not have let to a DSS tenant, why not just say that in the first place rather than leading me down the garden path? The only positive that came from this entire transaction was that I didn\'t hand over the "non refundable £425 application fee" because being so significantly out of pocket would have only added to the contempt towards the company this whole experience has inspired. I can say for almost certain that when I was shown the house for the second time they already knew they would rather I wasn\'t in it, and I am wholely unimpressed by the conduct of the director and receptionists alike.
Absolutely ruthlessly money-grabbing company all round. I would absolutely advise that you AVOID at ALL cost.
What agent could do to change your mind?
Manners and honesty. Not a lot to ask.