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Most landlords don’t use letting agents to manage their properties. In fact, it is an astonishingly small proportion – just 18pc – who use an agent for management services, according to the English Private Landlord Survey 2021. 

But what is perhaps more surprising is, despite these market statistics, estate agencies are booming, with ever-increasing numbers opening every year.

I’m what you’d call a “hybrid landlord”. I self-manage, and I also use letting agents to help me run my portfolio. With properties across the country and high standards of service, I know I cannot manage all of my tenants alone, and so I have no issue having help. 

I am also not ashamed to admit I cannot do it all; in fact I don’t want to. And for what it’s worth, I believe my tenants are better off for it.

Although, that’s not always the case.

The first agent I sacked, I likely should’ve sacked sooner. However, given the property was miles away from me and it was an outlier to the rest, I didn’t have such a strong network of contractors

The death knell sounded when they sent me the six-month property inspection and said everything was fine. I checked the photos attached, and my eyeballs spun at the kaleidoscope of colours my lovely house had been painted in.

“WTAF?” Was my terse reply. “Have you checked the move-in inventory before saying everything was okay? This property was fully painted white?”

Cue a barrage of apologies and promises to talk with the tenants about reinstating the property when they left.

Then the shed door lock broke and a repair was needed. I was quoted £278, plus VAT. 

“It’s a replacement door lock for a shed, not a replacement shed,” I said.

“Yes,” they said, “that’s the quote.”

Over the next couple of weeks more insane prices came my way for everything from removing a bush that had blown over (£550 plus VAT) to replacing a bathroom light switch cord (£178 plus VAT). Every time I found myself sourcing an alternative contractor who did the job at a fraction of the price.

It was needing a new boiler that broke me. The quote they obtained was in excess of £5,000, yet when I called a trusted plumber, he quoted me just £2,100. I called the boss of the agency and shared my dissatisfaction. 

I said there was no trust left and I could no longer have an agent managing my property who did so only to line their own pockets. I was likely out of line, but the proof was in their quotes versus the actual invoices I’d paid.

“Your agreement says you have to give us three months’ notice,” he said.

“That’s okay,” I replied. “I’ll file a complaint with the Ombudsman. I’ll let it know about the inventory and I’ll send all the inflated quotes you’ve sent me and the actual invoices I’ve paid when I’ve sourced contractors myself.”

Unsurprisingly, the agency agreement was terminated immediately.

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