I am very disappointed to report that our experience of using A Flat in Town as a managing agent for our rental property in Edinburgh was a disaster. Our property was rented out using their full management service for almost two years. Although the company found us tenants quickly, and we received rent payments on time each month, at the end of the tenancy we discovered a number of serious issues had been ongoing. When we took back possession of the property, which the company had told us was in appropriate condition for transfer back, we discovered thousands of pounds worth of damage. The company had provided assurances that they were carrying out regular inspections during the tenancy. We requested to see the inspection reports and these were not provided. We discovered that the tenants had been smoking in the flat and that this had not been dealt with by the agent during the tenancy. There was significant damge to one of our internal doors,damage to some of our furniture and blinds, widespread evidence of smoking (despite this being prohibited by the tenancy agreement), bloodstains on the walls and missing items from the inventory. The company had failed to keep track of the items on the inventory and so, for instance, when we asked where our bathroom blind was, they couldn\'t account for it. They eventually had to ask the tenants who told them it had broken and they \'didn\'t want to bother us with it.\' Surely the company inspections should have picked up on this, and, more worringly, the smoking. The flat was also infested with mice when we took back possession of it. We also discovered in one of the hall cupboards that the tenants had been trying to grow drugs and had attempted to interfere with the electrics in the house to wire up heat lamps. This damage had also not been discovered in inspections.
We had to fight quite hard with the company for them to admit that the condition of the flat was unacceptable. Eventually, they agreed and used the tenants\' deposit to pay for repainting, cleaning and repair works. The most disturbing part of our experience was that we had agreed with the company that the tenants would hand back the keys on a particular date and we had told our insurance company that the tenancy ended on this date. This was a Friday and we were later told by A Flat in Town that they had, without our consent, allowed the tenants to keep the keys over the weekend because they apparently wanted to continue cleaning the flat so it was suitable for handover. This invalidated our landlord insurance because the insurance company rightly asserted that the damage may have occurred over this weekend period, after the tenancy had technically ended. We were exasperated by the attitude of the company and at times they were offensive in their dealings with us, with one staff member making rude personal comments about my partner.
Unfortunately, I consider that the company failed to handle our property and all administration relating to it with due diligence and care. They could not produce inspection reports for the property when requested which we found most worrying. It seems clear to us that our management fee was largely wasted. We consider that the agent was negligent and that our property was put at risk. We took legal advice and eventually managed to get the company to pay us a small sum to cover some of the damage. We were so sick of dealing with them that we left it at that. Frankly, we should have taken it further and put a claim in through the small claims court. I note that at the time this occurred the company was not part of any voluntary regulatory bodies such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). In our experience, it is important for landlords to have the protection of such bodies as they offer support in the event of dispute. We have another rental property which is managed by a large firm who are part of ARLA and A Flat in Town\'s service simply does not compare with the professional and direct approach of our other agent. I would urge landlords to enquire about membership of voluntary regulatory bodies when choosing a managing agent. We would have been grateful for the support of these bodies during our dispute with A Flat in TOwn.
In summary, we consider that we had a very poor and extremely costly experience using A Flat in Town. I urge any landlord considering using this firm to go elsewhere and, specifically, to go with a bigger name who is part of an industry regulator.