If you’ve ever, ever rented a property through a letting agent, you’ll understand my next rant. Indeed, you’ll have probably gone through this at some point with them yourself.
Today’s grumble comes directly from the “trying to get your deposit back” drawer of frustrated anguish.
We moved on the 20th of September this year. When we did, we left not only a really nice 2 bedroom flat on the south coast, but also one of the most unscrupulous, deceitful, unprofessional letting agents I’ve ever had the misfortune to deal with.
So, notice to vacate handed in, we checked our Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement and noted that it stated in the deposit return section, “10 working days”. All mention of the deposit return in any of the documentation only mentions that magic 10 working days. So, we thought, once we’d moved, we should have our deposit back by October 3rd, minimum.
October the 3rd came, and went, without any form of contact in my inbox. A confused me called the letting agent and asked them, politely at first, what the hell was happening.
“Waiting for the Out-check”, came the reply.. “Wait, what? Everything was supposed to be finalised by now & you haven’t completed the out-check yet?”
“It’s been done, we’re waiting for it to be typed and emailed to us.”
“Hang on, it’s been done? Weren’t we supposed to have at least been invited to it? ”
This wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Or was it? The truth is, we’d dealt with the office functions of this company before. They were less useful than a London Mayor at a child sex abuse inquiry. The unprofessionalism we’d already encountered had seeped down from director-level like a befouled mayonnaise dripping down the back of the fridge.
I called again a few days later and managed to get the out-check emailed to us. Another call to them, you’ll notice that all the pushing & cajoling was coming from one way here. It was pretty clear that there were obvious signs of delaying tactics coming from the letting agents. They seemed to be finding new and interesting deliberate ways of not giving us the money we had entrusted them to not burn a flat down to the ground.
I eventually managed to get someone to take some form of ownership of our predicament and by this stage I’d got their number on speed-dial. The local kebab-house were getting funny as I wasn’t calling them any more. This lasted for a maximum of 4 days…
After hearing nothing for a further week, I emailed my ‘contact’ at the office and was informed that my ‘contact’ had changed due to an office move-around. I fervently hoped that this was because they had decided to tell the company to stick their policies, procedures and job up their unprofessional arse. Sadly, for that individual, it was a simple office move-around, that they hadn’t communicated to us, and that we had to push for information out of.
It turned out to be a slight blessing in disguise as it happened. Our new contact imposed a deadline on the owner to claim for any damage & if nothing came up, we’d get our moolah back asap. Bearing in mind that time-wise, this was now 24 working days after vacating, twice the recognised timescale for deposit return, we were fairly happy to have that deadline. We waited.
No contact from the owner overnight, we’d already agreed a return method of BACs and so our contact confirmed the amount to be returned. A charge that we were expecting & a charge that we had already had confirmed was going to be dismissed.
We got them to reissue the paper-work without that charge and were told that their policy was to have to “wait until they had a certain number of these before accounts would process them”
I asked if it could be hurried any further, “No” came the reply the next day, “but it has gone to accounts now.” I wondered how much longer this was going to take, to be told that it would likely be another 3 working days, which took it into the middle of the following week. We waited again.
Wednesday of the following week, we received a cheque, for the wrong amount. We were furious. They had included the dismissed charge and had payed us by completely the incorrect method. Emails and phone calls later, we had assurances that this would be rectified as soon as possible, that day, and to not cash the cheque.
We waited again. I complained to one of the Directors of the company. She had a brief moment to “look into” the issue and authorised the return of the deposit citing ” a delay caused by the owner wanting to extend their claim” as the cause of the delay, but hang on. The dates in the final sequence of events were consecutive days, where was the delay? We got a call from the employee who’d promised that the process was started the day prior, asking us to email in and confirm we would not cash the incorrect cheque before he could process our returned deposit. Furious again, another day lost, again.
I returned the email to the director, pointing out to her the timeline and requesting clarification on where she understood that delay to have come from, pointing out also that our complaint hasn’t been resolved and that really, we deserve some recompense for the delay, the lies, the incompetence & the arrogance of the company to even think that we’d be taken for mugs by them.
Today, we received our deposit back. 32 working days, that’s right, working days after we vacated the property. Three times longer than it should have taken.
We’re still waiting for the director to respond to the complaint satisfactorily too. I seriously doubt this will happen.
So, a word to the wise my hard-rocking amigos, don’t take lettings agent reviews as gospel, and don’t, whatever you do believe anything that comes out of their slimy mouths. They lie, they cheat, they change the rules, they ignore parts of their own contracts to try to keep the money that you have entrusted to them, as their customers. They’re unscrupulous wankers, and they know it.
Next time, I’m going to try swimming to the moon, it’ll be easier.