How to handle this estate agent situation?

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Established Member
6 Apr 2015
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Hi, not been on here for a while, but I tend to get good advice so I thought I'd post.

Basically I'm at the end of my rope with our rented house. I've posted about issues with neighbours before, as well as the terrible heating but over christmas the bad weather managed to make a mess of the roof. It made existing leaks worse and created new ones. At present a wall in one of the bedrooms is covered in damp. It's an old house, but I think it's had it's fair share of cowboy builders performing their magic on it. I don't think our landlord is inherently a bad person, but he's a doctor, he lives in Scotland while we're in the North West, and I think he just sees the house as a moneymaker on the side without realising the time and work that needs to go in to managing a property. I'm tired of pumping money in to somewhere that is stressful to be in.

Anyway, the garden is also the local school kids' favourite trash can, particularly since the council removed a bin from the top of the public path that runs past us. The council cited budget cuts. In addition, there's a couple of drunk blokes who think it's hilarious to knock our rubbish bins over as they stumble past the house at 4am every saturday. My girlfriend asked them to stop the first time, which just made it worse. The thing is, they haven't seen me, so they're only aware that they're essentially waking a 25 year old girl up in the early hours with the sound of smashing glass and loud banging. They apparently can't make the connection that that could be traumatic. According to her, they looked like they were in their early 30s. I'd ring the police, but aside from staking out our bins every weekend I'm sure they can't do anything. I've already sent forms off to to the council recording everything and considering that they don't have the budget for a bin I'm not surprised that nothing came of it.

Back to the point at hand, a suitable house has come up for rent nearby, which doesn't happen very often. It's cheaper than ours and we know the person who currently lives there, so naturally we have seen it already. We rang the estate agents up and asked if we could apply. They seemed to take offense to the idea that we had already seen it without them, which I don't think was unreasonable on our part. They started making excuses like we couldn't move in because there's no pets allowed and we have a dog (The person who lives there has cats and dogs, and the estate agents even installed a cat flap on the landlord's behalf), eventually they just said that there's a list of 11 people waiting to see it and that she'd put us on the buttocks end of that list.

I would generally do things above board if I wasn't so desperate. I'm happy to put up six months rent in advance if that would get us to the top of the list. The landlord is apparently a nice old bloke and I'd even meet with him to explain our circumstances. I actually couldn't sleep last night because my blood was boiling at the idea of these oiks messing with the bins again. Knowing estate agents I wouldn't be surprised if they disregarded us just to spite us. We weren't even trying to get round paying fees, I'd happily pay the fees even if they didn't show us around.

So, does anyone have any advice on how to go about this without drawing the ire of the estate agents? I am aware that I'm trying to be somewhat selfish with this, since people have already registered interest, but then again house hunting is supposed to be competitive anyway. Like I said, I'd be happy to wait and do everything by the book, but I'm sure the stress of living here has effected my health, at least and I think we really need to get out of this slum soon.

Also, please feel free to call me out if I'm being a nob. My judgement is probably clouded somewhat.
Could you contact the new landlord directly, introduced by your friends the current tenants perhaps, and explain your situation and the offer to pay 6 months in advance. I'd have jumped at that back when I was renting my house out.
If you know the landlord or can get an introduction (and importantly recommendation) from the current tenant then why not go direct? The estate agents have made it clear they see you as a last resort in any case. But without some kind of introduction or prior relationship, I'd expect a landlord not to want to talk to you directly as the point of the agents is to find a good shortlist of tenants rather than the landlord having to do this him or herself.

What happens with the agents is a matter between the landlord and the agents (they'd probably demand their fee in any case, and might get it if their board was the reason you approached the landlord). Nothing to do with you. If the landlord likes you and wants you as tenant, the agents will just have to live with that.

In theory, even if you annoy the agents they still have a legal duty to put any offer you make to the landlord, but I wouldn't rely on that (it's a duty owed to the landlord, not to you). The downside for you if you do annoy the agents is that they might be reluctant to consider you for other properties.
Speaking as a landlord myself, i'd be VERY ANNOYED with the estate agent for NOT informing me of the the fact they have someone willing to pay up front NOW..!!!

I'm presuming the (new) property is 'managed' by the agent, and not just a 'tenant find' basis by the way they are treating you.... which ever way, this shouldn't have any impact on the fact you are interested in the property.

Queue jumping or not.... would you do the same if it meant you getting 'the job' rather than the other guy..?

The way i see it, all you're done is researched and shown interest. The estate shouldn't be putting you at the end of any 'list'. It's not their property, they are merely an agent, agreed with the landlords interests at heart, but ultimately its the landlords choice.... NOT THEIRS..!!!

Oh..... and just to let you know.... we got fed up with the landlord 'choosing' the tenant for us (based on 'searches'). One tenant we had to take to court for non payment of rent for very nearly 18 months (yes... we did manage to get it back via her guarantor... he wasn't a happy bunny being dragged to court..!). So now we just use them as a tenant find only and manage the property(s) ourselves. And now WE INSIST on meeting all new tenants first..!!

Hope this helps.....

Landlord direct - and don't hang about I bet the Estate Agent has a friend looking for a house.
If need be, but only if absolutely necessary, increase your offer a little direct to the landlord if the Estate Agent does have a friend in need


Thanks for the quick replies. I think we'll ask the current tenant to let the landlord know we're interested and that we're happy to put the money up front.

Another issue is that I'm still jobless after my voluntary redundancy, but financially (barring anything completely unexpected) I could probably pay rent something in excess of 12 months without stretching myself too much, but of course I plan to be back in work much sooner. My girlfriend is making enough to cover the rent by herself, however, and that's without me paying my half. I don't know how much bearing that would have on things, but I can't imagine it would be too much of a problem if the money's there. I'd probably pay the six months up front out of my pocket and get her half of that off her monthly.
I agree with Brian.... sounds very much like the agent has a 'friend' who wants it.... or dare i even suggest they're getting a 'backhander' from someone who wants first dibbs....

Re the property you're in now..... sorry, but it sounds disgusting. We try to work on the principle 'would I rent/buy it'.? if not then its not good enough to rent/buy. And when you do eventually leave i would sincerely hope you get ALL your deposit back (assuming you leave it in an 'as found' condition..). Start taking photographs now (if you've not already started) as proof of what the property is like to live in on a daily basis. So come the time of getting deposits back you are ready and armed with all the information you need. And yes... we've had to 'argue' with tenants about deductions from deposits (which should be held with a deposit holding service by the way...)

Feel free to PM me if you want/need any further advice

Take some care here. The agent could well be entirely legit and protecting the new landlords interests. A lot depends on what you have said to the agent but this appears to be the story as an impartial person will see it:

You have a problem with the house you live in and are very vocal about that
You wish to break a tenancy agreement, which presumably requires notice and may create a reference problem
You are unemployed, which is likely to put you well down the list of desirable tenants
Six months up front is not necessarily that helpful if you then default. 12 months might swing it.
You are not married, so the new landlord is dealing with people with no legal connection and who could split up easily, leaving the property unaffordable for the remaining one
You wish to jump a queue that the estate agent says is there, and are willing to by-pass the agent to do that.

The agent has a duty to find good tenants. Looking at the dispassionate list above, they will advise the landlord to take someone else. So in my opinion your best bet would be to befriend the estate agent, maximise your charm offensive (or get your girlfriend to do it) and keep your options open by looking for other houses too.
I also agree with everything that AJB has mentioned above.... your ARE in a very tricky situation.... no job, (possibly) on benefits, single male....
I'm aware that I probably don't look ideal. I'm not on benefits (I think I have too much in savings to qualify), so I'm just living off my redundancy payment which was generous.

I came from a fairly respectable job and I have decent qualifications and am actively looking for work. My girlfriend is in work, and in a good job. I think she'd probably be the best point of contact because of this. She makes enough that she could rent the house by herself. It's a small house and the rent is very cheap.

We haven't actually mentioned this to the agent. The only thing we mentioned is that we're already familiar with the house and that we'd like to apply. The lady on the phone seemed to take offense at the fact that we had already seen the house, which isn't that unusual since we know the current tenant.

In terms of our current property, we originally signed a six month contract and have been renting on a monthly basis since. I agree that a reference may be an issue, but we have raised any problems with the landlord, and I have kept records of as much correspondence as I could. I'm not sure how much the landlord would try to hold the damp and other issues over our heads, but as far as I'm aware we have no legal responsibility for it as we have not actively been making it worse.
Contact the landlord directly. 6 months is a huge deposit so I'd offer less to start with 3 months should be fine. Assuming the landlord has no issues with your friends then I'm sure a personal recommendation from them will sort you. I wonder if the estate agent has a friend that wants it?

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Get in touch with the landlord direct if you can. Letting agents are a pain in the ar**, they like to act like little hitlers and throw their weight around.
Again - be careful. The new landlord probably already has a contract with the estate agent and they will insist on payment whether they are used or not. It is necessary for you to be charming to all parties. As your g'f is in employment I would tend to use her to front the deal. Go into the agent, don't ring up. Fine to be friendly with the landlord but he has employed an agent for a reason and you are at risk of burning your bridges.
It seems like the estate agent is being evasive because she has interpreted the situation as though you are trying to go direct to the landlord. Being middle men, estate agents get most upset if somebody tries to cut them out of the equation. Its a shame you didnt enquire before the property became advertised.

If there is a list of interested parties, I would expect the existing tenant would have already been told about impending viewings, so it may be worth sounding out your friend.

You could also chat to the landlord if he is willing, theres a chance he may agree if you offer payment in advance or even a slightly higher rent but be careful and be clear you will be dealing with the agent. If so you can then go in and see the estate agent and tell them you know the property well as you are friends with the tenant, are keen to rent and could they put an offer forward to the landlord (dont tell them you have discussed it directly).
We have no problem with paying the estate agents their finding fee or whatever they're expecting. I've dealt with estate agents a few times in the past and every time they surprise me with what awful human beings they are. I don't know what it is about the job that attracts them to it, or turns decent people slimy.
Bear. To get what you want you really need to put this negative attitude aside and ;earn to manipulate situations to your advantage. I am not a fan of all estate agents either, but you are basing this on one phone call. The agent needs to be careful as they must weed out tenants who will not care for properties or default on payment. You are assuming that they have some nefarious motive, but there is no evidence at all for this: they are likely to have numerous people on their books looking for houses. There is no upside for you in alienating them, and significant downside potential. Anyway, I have said all that I can to try to be helpful and wish you luck.
I agree with all that's been said.
I had an issue with one estate agent many years ago who did an awful job selling my house, strong words were uttered and I sold it myself but had to fork out a small % of his fee as there was a board in my garden and I flatley refused to pay all of his fee which he pressed hard for. Eventually he accepted my offer. However although there are many who give the industry a bad name they are not all the "slimy" people you think they are.

Personally I would without doubt approach the owner direct or through a friend if possible but I would also go in person, with your partner to meet the agent and show them that you would be reputable tenants and not trying to deprive them of commission. I'd also advise not going in to detail about your current house problems as you might be perceived as a moaner who will be a hassle for them.

Much better face to face than over the 'phone and a belt and braces approach never hurts.

As a Landlord who also like this forum - I would see the landlord direct (jump the queue) have in hand reference from his present tenants and offer in 6 months in advance and explain why you want the property. As someone nicely put it I'm a typical nice old bloke kinda Landlord who would be swain at the chance of 6 month in advance and good tenant. And would put a rocket up the Jacksey of the Estate agent for not informing me. Deal direct most of us want good tenants benefits or not; Don't believe the TV programs and London based rubbish. This is my 4th job ex miner ex buildings ex teacher now Landlord still trying to retire.
I don't know your circumstances or anything about the area where you live, but it is clear that the agents are bad'uns, or they would have told the landlord to fix the maintenance issues with your present house (there's not much they can do about the social issues). You have a contract that says you will pay a set amount of money and the landlord or his representative will provide you with decent accommodation that meets the regulations.

Given that, I think I would try and find a house through another rental agent. The small ones can often be much better to deal with than the estate agents and I would vet the agent as much as any potential properties to be sure of finding a house you can live in and an agent you can trust to fulfil their part of the deal on behalf of the landlord.

Consider paying more if you are able to. Although that might be painful, it should raise you out of the bottom end of the market where there are plenty of dodgy landlords and agents who do minimal maintenance and frequently have houses in areas where there are social issues.

Good luck!