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How Rude! I was slightly annoyed by Archer Basset (our agents) when… - Sally's Journal
March 28th, 2008
12:15 pm

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How Rude!

I was slightly annoyed by Archer Basset (our agents) when they phoned M at 10ish this morning to say "Some tradesmen will be coming round with the landlord after 10 tommorrow". Not "Is it convinient?" or "Will you be in?" and no apology for "I know this is only one days notice and you're supposed to be in London/Worcester".

So I phoned them up, and tried to explain why I thought 24 hours notice and no consultation wasn't acceptable, in a firm and clear but really not particularly angry kind of way. And hit a barrage of "You serf, you should be grateful, because they're coming out on a Saturday which we don't normally do, because it's an urgent thing*, why don't you appreciate our great magnanimity" and when I deigned to say "Well, actually Monday would have been more convenient because we had plans for Saturday and can work from home most week days with enough notice" I got dumped on hold with as little ceramony as someone hanging up on me. How Rude! When he finally deigned to take the nasty angry woman off hold, he said "I've made a note in your file" and was very cagey as to _what_ note he'd made in our file, although when pushed he said he'd noted that we'd been annoyed at only 24 hours notice and that we'd like to be consulted about when we had to deal with tradesmen in our house. I bet he's actually written "rude and cantankerous tenant doesn't appreciate us fixing her house".

Ah well. Apparently the tradesman in question is a general handyman, who will turn up with the landlord, handymen the bits that are amenable to handymenning, and then the landlord will go on to find electricians and plumbers to deal with the stuff that actually need dealing with at some other, as yet unspecified, time.

*Boggle. While I don't want to downplay our woes, I don't think that needing a bolt on a shed and wanting some picture hooks is in the slightest bit urgent. The electrics may well be urgent, but as you will see, they don't come into this in the slightest. And the house hasn't burnt down yet.

(31 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:emperor
Date:March 28th, 2008 12:34 pm (UTC)
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FAIL

I could always send them a DPA request to see all the notes on our file :-)
From:hsenag
Date:March 28th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
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I tried that with Russells in Cambridge after I left my property and they basically ignored me (they just sent me stuff I already had and ignored my follow-up request explaining they had to give me everything.) I never got round to taking it further, which I regret.
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From:sesquipedality
Date:March 28th, 2008 02:37 pm (UTC)
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Send the correspondence to the Data Protection Commissioner. I understand they take a dim view of these things.
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From:hsenag
Date:March 28th, 2008 07:24 pm (UTC)
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That's what I'd have done if I had taken it further. As it was nearly two years ago now that route isn't really open any more.
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From:chris_maslen
Date:March 28th, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
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Actually under the DPA any company which holds your records must maintain a copy of those records for a period of not less than 4 years in case you do want a copy of them.

They are entitled to request you pay an admin fee for them to go through their files to find any data they have about you but the DPA sets a maximum limit of £10 for this charge.
From:hsenag
Date:March 28th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
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I wasn't aware of that - I thought they could destroy things at any time unless there was an active request.

I had a quick look through http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1998/ukpga_19980029_en_1 but couldn't spot anything to that effect - do you know happen to know where the relevant clause is?
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From:cathedral_life
Date:March 28th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
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At least you might be able to get the LL's contact details (if he/she deigns to give them) and then maybe you won't have to go through the agent...!
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:March 28th, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC)
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*sigh* *hug*
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From:sphyg
Date:March 28th, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
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I may have asked this before, but can't the agency lend them a key?
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
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Well, in the specific case it's "Put these picture hooks where we want them" and similar things so I'm not sure there's any point the handyman being there when we are not. In the abstract I'm not overwhelmed by the thought of random unsupervised tradesmen in my house, but maybe I'm just being irrational.
(Deleted comment)
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From:woodpijn
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
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Wouldn't you? I do. Couldn't afford all the time off work otherwise.
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
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How do you get the keys to the tradesmen? Do you pop them through the letterbox, or do they come round to pick them up in evenings?
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From:woodpijn
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
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Let them in first thing in the morning, then go to work and leave them to it.
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From:aiwendel
Date:March 29th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
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with a letting agency I imagine the tradesman would get the keys from the agent...
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From:sonicdrift
Date:April 2nd, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
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Indeed. One thing I hated about college accommodation was their idea they could wander in whenever they felt like it. Once I got home and found the keys to most of Panton street left in the front door.
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From:half_of_monty
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:10 pm (UTC)
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But they won't be unsupervised, if the landlord's coming? Or do you not know him either?

We had to go out while the chap was putting up picture hooks for us in our new place, actually. We left him a list describing locations (which we'd made anyway) and put pencil crosses on the wall in the exact right places. Wasn't a prob. But I suppose it was the handyman who's directly employed by our landlord, and we know and like our landlords, so not the same thing.
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
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We've met our landlord once, for about 2 minutes, with his parents, oddly. I mean, I didn't _dislike_ him, but I don't _know_ him, and the way he has refused to get back to us for the two weeks we've been asking him about these repairs and then arranged a handyman for a time and place without even checking it's convenient for us is not endering him to me.
(Deleted comment)
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From:sphyg
Date:March 31st, 2008 09:04 pm (UTC)
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I hadn't really thought about it. I suppose I'm just too trustworthy. And not minding a random person in my house is less hassle than having to take the time off work.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:16 pm (UTC)
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*rolleyes*

(I wonder what the legal position is? I can't remember if ?my contract specified anything, but with no guarantor or housemates, I assume at most my death would act as an N month notice, and my estate would be liable for the rent of that period. But I don't know if a guarantor would be liable only for the debt that would exist with no guarantor, or for the whole debt regardless. Obviously the letting agent likely has an incentive to ignore what's fair and sue the guarantor at first provocation.)

(Contrariwise, for all we know, the letting agent never knew she died due to a snafu somewhere and did all this automatically.)
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
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AIUI, if you rent it on your own, you're saying you'll try and pay the rent for X months, and the company does some checks on you and says OK, you're in a steady job and have a good credit history and you'll probably do that. If you die then, err, I guess that's on of those things that must happen 1 time in a 1000 and the companies just expect to lose out occassionally. Even people with steady jobs and good credit histories die. However, if you get a guarentor, the company is saying that they don't trust _you_ to have a steady job and a good credit history and not do inconsiderate things like drop down dead, they want a more responsible person to rent the house on your behalf. So while it seems horribly insensitive and I don't think they should do it, they're probably in the right?
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
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If you die then, err, I guess that's on of those things that must happen 1 time in a 1000 and the companies just expect to lose out occassionally.

Exactly.

So while it seems horribly insensitive and I don't think they should do it, they're probably in the right?

Assuming the guarantor was notionally for you not having a steady job, etc, I think it is wrong (not just ungenerous) of them to insist on it applying when you die, when that's an independent risk. But I don't know if that applies legally, it doesn't seem obvious to me either way and I don't know if there's a legal presumption that the debt still exists (eg. because the contract applies to both the borrower and guarantor) or that it doesn't (because the guarantor is guaranteeing to pay any debt of the borrower, but it's not a debt any more if they die) or if it depends on the wording in the contract. Come to think of it, it seems more likely that they should be able to collect (the estate is defaulting) but that otoh if might be the sort of thing some precedent exists for.
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From:teleute
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:07 pm (UTC)
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I'm still boggling that they won't let you put up picture hooks on your own. Even *I* can put up picture hooks!
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
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I'm still boggling that they're letting you put up picture hooks at all. I thought they'd do everything possible (short of, eg. spending any effort) to make you live with what's provided.
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
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There is clearly some miscommunication going on. Our list included things like "picture hooks" and "get keys cut" but also "some knobs on the kitchen cupboards that have lost their knobs" and "a bolt on the shed door" and the reply from the landlord via the agents was "he wants to do everything himself". I really really don't think that he wants to go down town and pay 20 UKP for a spare set of keys when we are willing to do it for him. I mean, it's not like carpentry where we might mess up his kitchen. But it's one of those things that would make much more sense if we could talk to him, and he just didn't phone us.
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From:cathedral_life
Date:March 28th, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
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I have a theory that even if the agent passed your message to the LL asking him to call, then the agent would have advised the LL not to call you directly. If the LL called you directly, the LL would not need to pay the agent for management fees and the agent would become redundant. So it would not be in the agent's interest to forward your messages asking the LL to call you directly. Agents usually get between 2%-6% of monthly rent for management fee.

In addition, any works that need doing /by the agent's supplier/ usually incur an administration fee from the LL (arrangement fee) and an additional 10% on the cost of all works provided. If LL was bringing own handyman and not using agent's services, agent doesn't get paid...
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From:lnr
Date:March 28th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
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I asked our landlord if it were OK to put more picture hooks up and he said that was fine. I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd said no though, lots of landlords are worried about the possible mess it'll make if they're trying to re-let the place later with a ridiculous number of them, and they tend to damage the plaster when you take them back down again.
From:yrieithydd
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)
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[hugs] You don't seem to have much luck with agencies and landlords do you! I appear to be lucky, though perhaps being one of four flats in a building owned by someone who is part of the letting agency helps. The maintainence guy came round to check up on stuff (post-scaffolding) and mend a loo upstairs and as I happenned to be in I had a chat with him and reminded him about the loop on the back wall for my bike and then was able to grab his assistant when I couldn't remove lightbulbs. One of the fittings broke and he mended that the following day and did the hook on Thursday.

The weirdest I've had is being asked whether I want to stay on by text.
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