How to handle this estate agent situation?

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I don't understand your refusal to hold the owner to account. You are paying for a service which you are not getting. If the owner is unable to perform the basic duties and maintenance then he should either hand that responsibility off to the agent or should sell the property to someone who can manage it. I can speak from experience, it simply wouldn't occur to me to simply do nothing.
Think there have been enough suggestions now for you to make some progress on both issues.
In practice it is rather difficult to hold a landlord to account. If the landlord does not want to invest (for whatever reason) what you end up with usually in my limited experience is landlord and tenant equally brassed off with each other. This invariably ends with the landlord evicting the tenant at an early opportunity. It is pretty much a no win for tenants if they need to rent again as word gets around agents and of course a good reference will not be forthcoming. Letting agents depend on property owners far more than they do a supply of tenants, so they are inevitably biased towards the landlord (who pays them after all).

The only real option for tenants is to do much more due diligence at the start of a private rental and make sure the property really is fit for purpose, and ensure that the management arrangements are realistic. I have rented, in between house development projects, and avoided landlord managed rentals. My assumption is that the landlord going the DIY route will often seek to minimise costs and effort.
The landlord, not the agent, is ultimately responsible for maintaining the property.
If he is too busy to do so, then he should authorise his agent to do so without delay.
If he is simply trying to avoid spending the money, then he shouldn't be in the property business (for that is what it is).
He is a doctor, he does a demanding job and is well rewarded for it. Why does he think that you would happily pay for a service you are not receiving?
Being an absentee landlord is no excuse; he still has moral and legal obligations and his appointed agent should be working to his instructions.
As per my previous post, it is my view that you should get out of this house and away from this landlord/agent combination. At the end of the day, it is you who decides the direction of your life, however, and only you can decide if your pet is worth the grief when renting, and whether you should be prepared to pay more as a consequence.
Many landlords that say "no pets" take that approach because pets frequently end up costing large sums of money in increased wear and tear despite reassurances from the tenants. (You sound like a dream tenant to me because so many are simply not prepared to take reasonable care of the landlord's investment). However, many landlords will soften their stance in exchange for an increased deposit and/or a modest increase in rent. This won't solve your present problems but could help to make other places available to you.
Worth a try!
I admit that we definitely didn't do enough due diligence at the beginning of the tenancy. We missed a few red flags or underestimated some issues, and were ensured by the letting agent that they would be in to fix a few things before we moved in. Of course, we didn't get that in writing and when we arrived the problems were still there while they completely denied making any promises.

I'll reiterate, it is a really nice house. It's listed, beautiful masonry, good size garden for the rent, in a really good location on paper, but with each of those comes inevitable problems that we didn't anticipate.

Anyway, for the few who are clearly getting tired of this thread popping up every so often we are actually working towards a solution.
BearTricks":1heci16g said:
... Of course, we didn't get that in writing and when we arrived the problems were still there while they completely denied making any promises......
Tell the landlord that his agents are acting dishonestly on his behalf and that the house has problems which it is in HIS interests to get fixed (as well as your own). But you said it is in the contract that he should do repairs. A written contract is a good contract. A verbal agreement is a contract too, but difficult to prove - which doesn't mean you shouldn't argue about it if necessary.
Best to overstate the problems as it's easier to ease back rather than keep adding new details.
You could also point out the neighbourhood problems - not his fault of course but they should be reflected in the rent. You pay a lot for "location" if it's any good, and vice versa.