Their Business Is Flat-Lining

, , , | Working | September 18, 2017

(I’m a newly graduated university student looking for my own place to live so I don’t have to move back to my hometown. I go to one of the local letting agencies, all of which are within a minute walk of each other. The first place has a young woman there to talk to; she already looks disinterested in me.)

Worker: “How can I help?”

Me: “I’m looking for a place to rent. My budget is allowing for between £250-350 a month for the rent alone. I don’t really mind about the place itself or how many rooms or anything, just so long as it can fit within that budget.”

Worker: *scoffs* “Okay, well I’ll look up those details for you now.”

(She looks up the information…)

Worker: “Right, so, I’ve found a flat that’s £500 a month. This looks pretty decent right?”

Me: “I guess it does, but like I said, my budget would only allow a maximum of £350. I couldn’t afford that right now.”

Worker: “Okay, well, here’s a place that is £350.” *gives info on it*

Me: “Yeah, that seems okay; when would I be able to view it?”

Worker: “We can book you in for a viewing next Monday at 11:30 am. Would that be okay?”

Me: “Yeah, that’ll be fine.”

Worker: “You’ll need to phone us on that day, a half hour before, to confirm that you can make the appointment.”

Me: “Oh… Um, sorry, but that will be a little awkward for me. I’m on a PAYG phone and have no credit at the minute, and I’m not paid until the end of the month. Would no one here be able to phone me instead?”

Worker: *scoffs again* “Um, no, we don’t do that here. If you can’t phone us to confirm, then we can’t book a viewing for you.”

(I just left, choosing not to call her some choice words. I walked literally down the road to the next agency, and I was welcomed quite warmly by a nice elderly lady who actually listens to my price limit at the start. She made a point of only looking in the “nice area of town,” because I certainly look like a “nice lad.” I know it was kind of cheap flattery, but it wasn’t a swindle, it was honestly further into the less rough areas of town. She even made a point of calling the landlord right then and organising a viewing just two hours after my meeting with her. A week later, and I was all signed up at a studio flat at £285 a month, well within my budget. Honestly, it was no wonder that the first place I went to was empty, but the second place with the nice lady already had two couples talking to other advisers.)

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It Pays To Use Protection

, , | Working | August 29, 2017

(I took over the last three months of a girl’s flat-share, sharing with one other girl. This ended a couple of months ago, and I was told I could expect to receive my security deposit two to four weeks after moving. About a month after I move out, I realise that I haven’t heard from them regarding it. I call up to find out what the issue is.)

Letting agent: “We’re waiting to receive proof that all the bills have been paid.”

(Since I only lived there for a few months, my housemate had all the bills in her name, so I text her.)

Ex-Housemate: “[Electricity Provider] are messing me about. I’ll chase them.”

(After a few weeks of chasing her to chase [Electricity Provider], she changed her story.)

Ex-Housemate: “I’ve sent them the confirmation code stating that I’ve made a payment, but they’re refusing to accept that.”

Me: “Of course they’re refusing, that just means you’ve paid them some money, not that the balance is zero.”

Ex-Housemate: “Anyway, I’ve spoken to Trading Standards, and they say they have no right to ask for proof of bills. I’m going to take legal action against them.”

Me: “Actually, they have complete right to ask for proof. It’s even written into our contracts. Can’t you just send them proof?”

Ex-Housemate: “Oh, they still haven’t sent it to me.”

(Fed up, I decided to contact the Deposit Protection Scheme. In the UK, landlords are legally required to protect your deposit using a DPS. I call the letting agency to find out what company they used and the reference number, then call the DPS, intending to find out what I can do if my flatmate is willfully withholding the information needed to get my deposit back.)

DPS: “Sorry, your name isn’t on that account, so I can’t discuss it with you.”

Me: “Let me guess. Are the names [Ex-Housemate] and [Girl I Replaced]?”

DPS: “Yes, they are. Sorry, they should have filled a change of tenancy form when you moved in. I can’t discuss this with you any further.”

(Not protecting my deposit means I can claim compensation of one to three times the amount of the deposit, plus full return of the deposit. I call the letting agency back.)

Me: “So, I’ve found out that my deposit wasn’t protected. As such, you’ve been holding my money for the past five months. If you return it now, I won’t claim compensation.”

Letting Agency: “We’ve already decided to release the funds. Our accountant is away until Tuesday, but we’ll process it then.”

(Tuesday comes. I call up and ask them to process it, and give them my bank details, and am told to wait a week or so for funds to clear. All the while, my ex-housemate is texting me asking if I’ll help her press charges for asking for proof of payment. The following week, no money has appeared, so I call back.)

Letting Agency: “Oh, we can’t release those funds, we haven’t received proof that the bills have been paid.”

Me: “We discussed this. You have not protected my deposit. I do not have to prove anything because it doesn’t qualify as a deposit. Please release the funds.”

(This is the line that really got me:)

Letting Agency: “It was protected… just not in your name.”

Me: *through gritted teeth* “Do you understand how this works? They won’t speak to me about it. If I try to resolve it through them, I can’t go anywhere. I tried to talk to them, actually because I thought [Ex-Housemate] was messing me around, but I literally can’t. It’s an insurance based DPS, and they won’t pay out any insurance to someone not named on the file. My deposit was NOT protected.”

Letting Agency: “Um… My manager isn’t in, he needs to approve it.”

Me: “Well, you’re going to need to contact someone with authority, because if you haven’t sorted this by the end of the day, I’m going to start the process to claim compensation.”

(Luckily half an hour later, they call back to say they’ve gotten it approved. I think the matter is closed, but then… a few hours later the letting agency calls.)

Letting Agency: “It seems that your housemate is two months behind on rent. My manager is refusing the release the deposit until her rent is paid up.”

Me: *explodes* “My deposit is not protected! You have no right to withhold it for any reason! It is not my problem that [Ex-Housemate] is two months behind on rent, because you did not protect it.”

Letting Agency: “Sorry, but my manager is holding firm.”

Me: “Fine. I will be claiming compensation.”

(I texted my housemate, and unbelievably she owned up to not paying the rent, and paid it. The letting agency told me that they processed my deposit and to expect it within a week. Later that week, I received a cheque [so no idea why they asked for my bank details], for less than half of my deposit. They still seemed to have no idea that they couldn’t legally deduct anything from it, BECAUSE IT’S NOT A DEPOSIT! I was planning on claiming compensation, but according to my lawyer they normally cave in before it reaches court, but after you have to pay legal costs, so it’s not really worth it. SO MUCH ANGER.)

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This Call Has Gone Through The Change

| Right | May 14, 2016

Tenant: *via text* “My AC ISN’T WORKING! HELP ME, PLEASE!”

Me: “Let me contact the AC tech and see when he can come. It’s Friday at 4:30, so I’ll do my best.”

Tenant: *now calling* “You have to get him to come out today. This is unacceptable. I need him now. I’m going through menopause and am having hot flashes. I need AC. Can you tip him, give him some money?!”

Me: *silence*

Tenant: “Okay, that was probably TMI.”

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The Lawnmower Ban

| Right | September 3, 2015

(My office line rings, and I answer.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Company]. This is [My Name]. How can I help you?”

Homeowner: *yelling* “YOU ARE GOING TO JAIL!”

Me: “I’m… I’m sorry?”

Homeowner: “YOU ARE GOING TO JAIL. THIS IS ILLEGAL!”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, I am not sure what you are referring to.”

Homeowner: “YOU SENT ME A NOTICE ABOUT MOWING MY LAWN. I WAS OUT OF TOWN FOR SIX WEEKS. THAT’S NOT MY JOB. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME STAY HERE. IT’S ILLEGAL. I CAN TAKE A VACATION!”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear about this, sir. If you could provide me with your name and address, I can look into this for you.”

Homeowner: *gives name and address*

Me: “Thank you, sir. It appears you were sent a courtesy notice as your lawn went un-mowed for two months, and your governing documents state it must be done every two-to-three weeks.”

Homeowner: “IT’S NOT MY JOB! I WASN’T HERE! I AM ALLOWED TO LEAVE! YOU WANT IT DONE SO BADLY, YOU DO IT!”

Me: “Sir, we are not the ones who set the rules; that would be the Homeowner Association’s Board of Directors. We work for them. If fact, this rule was suggested by a member of the Board of Directors… [Homeowner], about a year ago. If you would like, I can send you the minutes of the meeting in which you recommended this rule when you were on the Board?”

Homeowner: *meekly* “I didn’t know I would go on vacation back then…”

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Building Up Abuse About The Building

| Right | September 11, 2014

(I work as maintenance coordinator for a property management company. I get a call from a nearly 30-year-old tenant’s mother.)

Me: “Hello, This is [My Name]. How can I help—”

Mother: “You listen here. I am going to sue the living s*** out of you and you negligent company unless you fix the issues in my son’s apartment!”

Me: “I’ll do everything I can. What is the—”

Mother: “Well, YOU have already been doing ALL that YOU can. Maybe I need to talk to someone else, cause all you can do is f*** all!”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m more than happy to assist you in any way I can but I will stop this conversation if you continue to be abusive. What is the add—”

Mother: “I’M BEING ABUSIVE?! You take my money EVERY MONTH so my son can live in that s***-hole! Breathing in mold, dealing with rats and roaches! WHAT ABOUT THE GOD-D*** HOLE IN THE CEILING?! Don’t you think that’s abusive!?”

Me: “Ma’am, I have no knowledge of any unit having any of these problems but for me to help I need the address—”

Mother: “YOU HAVE NO F****** KNOWLEDGE?! LET ME TALK TO YOUR MANAGER!”

(At this point I lose my patience.)

Me: “Ma’am, did you sign the lease for your son or were you present for the signing of the lease?”

Mother: “No, I did not, but what the h*** does that have to do with anything?”

Me: “It MEANS I legally do not have to talk you. NO ONE here has to, and if you continue to be this abrasive on the phone, I will advise the property manager to evict your adult son from his unit. I DON’T WANT TO DO THAT! Now, PLEASE, if you want me to help I need the ADDRESS!”

Mother: “Fine, it’s [address].”

Me: “Ma’am, we don’t even manage that building. It’s managed by [Other Management Company].”

Mother: “Well, then, how do I get ahold of them?”

Me: “Let me Google that for you. ” *hangs up phone*

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