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Advice Needed - What To Ask For In Writing Before Renting, Difficult La

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My partner and I are in the process of referencing for a property we absolutely love.

Unfortunately the letting agent has been incredibly difficult and rude throughout the whole process (to the point where I had to download the energy certificates to find out what the address was for viewing!!) and she is not very good at answering my questions.
For example, we have previously rented a property with an excellent LA who provided us with a complete list of the process from start to finish and all the fees included. They were friendly and helpful and answered all of our questions and I felt I could call on them whenever I needed to.
This LA stood awkwardly at the viewing, very quiet, not explaining much and answering our questions in as little detail as possible. She gave us nothing but a "booklet" with pictures in it, and listed off verbally what I had to email to her after the viewing if we wanted to apply. Despite this we loved the place too much to worry about an awkward, unorganised woman getting in the way of it.
However, we have been put through a bank referencing process instead of a credit check, which I had no idea even existed and it took me 3 days and 6 emails to actually understand what the document was that we were told (in an email) to "print, sign and return posted to the letting agents" - no further explanation. Then the actual process is taking forever, it's been nearly three weeks and I'm losing my patience as we really want to move and the LA has basically said (although in better words) to leave her alone until the process is complete. I understand the referencing takes time, but she won't answer any of my other questions until this is done.
If we get it (there is no reason at all why we shouldn't) we've been told there is a gardener that comes every two weeks, though the garden and front garden were quite scruffy when we viewed and I'm concerned about how he gets into the garden as the only routes are through the garage or the house - neither of which I'm comfortable with. Should I get it in writing that this gardener is responsible for the maintenance?
We've also been told that the property allows pets (one cat) and I've got it in an email that the only additional cost is if there is damage to the property - i.e. having a pet will not add more to the deposit. Will this stand as "in writing" if she tells me we have to pay more to have the cat? She told me at the viewing I could get another if I wanted (I asked) so I assumed the LL was quite relaxed, though they're redecorating before the new tenants move in, so can she charge us on the grounds that the property is newly decorated?

Can I have some advice as to what I need to ask for in writing - as well as the contract - without having such a long list and whilst dealing with such an awkward LA that I end up putting her off us and she won't offer us the property? (can she do that?)
Our last property was just so relaxed and easy and simple, that this time around it feels like we've never rented before! The property has a history of long term tenants (last rented in 2012) which is why we're going for it despite the LA, if they all stayed so long then they can't be that bad?

Sorry for the long post, I know the LA doesn't owe me anything so I shouldn't really expect her to be nice as long as she's getting us through it, and I've been super sweet to try and get her to help me out a bit more but she seems to just have a really bad attitude. It's a small, local LA so we can't switch who's dealing with our application - you'd think that'd make them nicer!

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From my (often bad) experiences, just walk away if you have warning signs that tell you something is wrong. There are plenty of other houses out there and sometimes a little extra rent is worth it. Basically most letting agents and landlords, knowing they are in a position of power over you, don't give a toss about you or things like how much the council tax is or whether there is a main sewer connection or modern efficient boiler.

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Maybe she's putting you off as she wants it herself or for someone she knows. Also if I were the LL I would not be happy at having prospective tenants treated badly. What's the point of having an agent if that is the way they treat you? By the way I'm not a LL and never likely to be one :)

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It's quite likely they're messing you around for a reason they won't tell you. I can however find it just as credible they are bored and uninterested and you should give them some shit. Imagine what it must be like sitting around watching episodes of changing places before making that epic decision - that you too want to make people cry for no particularly good reason. And that I'm sure is the creation myth for how a reasonable % of estate agents came into being. Act accordingly except with a pleasant agent - the principle has never seen me wrong.

Edited by Kinky John

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So re-reading your post your main points seem to be:

(1) Disinterested Letting Agent

(2) Application/referencing process taking time

(3) You have some concerns about the contract (re: gardeners and cats etc) before you have read the contract!

Taking these in turn:

(1) Just try and be polite, efficient, firm and fair.

(2) Arguably you not sending the bank reference form back for 3 days has not helped... still maybe 2 contacts a week asking for a progress update and offering any assistance may help. Maybe one by email on say a tuesday and a follow up phone call on a thursday. When dealing with estate agents when buying a house I found they would ask if something had happened... then when I said yes they would ask when. Cheeky of them but you could turn the tables and use it on the Letting agent. Asking a followup question especially "when" i.e. time bound questions helps emphasis that you are keeping tabs on things without having to be impolite. Keep written notes of your phone calls.. dates times what was discussed etc.

(3) Ask for a draft contract. When you have read the draft contract you can discuss any remaining issues. If you are renting the garden and are not contracted to give the gardner access to the back garden then you don't have to (I am not a lawer!). Try to avoid agreeing verbally to letting the gardner have access if you don't want to give them access. As for the cats if the contract says no pets then get the term amended. If that means drawing a line through it initialling and getting the letting agent to initial (if they are also the landlords signatory) before you sign on the dotted line then so be it.

Anyway good luck and don't let the b*****ds get you down!

Let us know how it goes!

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So re-reading your post your main points seem to be:

(1) Disinterested Letting Agent

(2) Application/referencing process taking time

(3) You have some concerns about the contract (re: gardeners and cats etc) before you have read the contract!

Taking these in turn:

(1) Just try and be polite, efficient, firm and fair.

(2) Arguably you not sending the bank reference form back for 3 days has not helped... still maybe 2 contacts a week asking for a progress update and offering any assistance may help. Maybe one by email on say a tuesday and a follow up phone call on a thursday. When dealing with estate agents when buying a house I found they would ask if something had happened... then when I said yes they would ask when. Cheeky of them but you could turn the tables and use it on the Letting agent. Asking a followup question especially "when" i.e. time bound questions helps emphasis that you are keeping tabs on things without having to be impolite. Keep written notes of your phone calls.. dates times what was discussed etc.

(3) Ask for a draft contract. When you have read the draft contract you can discuss any remaining issues. If you are renting the garden and are not contracted to give the gardner access to the back garden then you don't have to (I am not a lawer!). Try to avoid agreeing verbally to letting the gardner have access if you don't want to give them access. As for the cats if the contract says no pets then get the term amended. If that means drawing a line through it initialling and getting the letting agent to initial (if they are also the landlords signatory) before you sign on the dotted line then so be it.

Anyway good luck and don't let the b*****ds get you down!

Let us know how it goes!

Thanks everyone, your advice has been helpful. I know I can be very wordy and ramble a lot when I ask things on these forums, so I apologise if this was difficult to digest.

I got a call from the LA today saying the property is ready and the only thing holding us up was these bank references, and she found it unusual that she hadn't heard anything. She seemed unusually chirpy and positive and said we can sign as soon as she gets them.

I phoned my bank straight away and after 45 minutes found out the request she had sent hadn't even been registered on my account because the form she had provided wasn't detailed enough.

So I've now got a copy of the reference being sent to her and myself by this Tuesday coming at the latest. My partner is also having issues as his bank didn't get him to register a signature with them when he signed up for an account (How many useless people can we encounter in a month?!) so he's been chasing them up, they now have his signature and he will be making "demands" on Monday that they get it faxed to the LA asap.

Until that happens I've not yet asked for anything else but if she phones in the week saying we have it, I'll request a draft contract as you suggest to read over before we go and sign, which was standard with our last LA anyway, but I don't have my hopes up haha!

Thank you, I'm feeling much more positive after today, and relieved that I should be hearing the verdict next week and hopefully moving next weekend!

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Isn't it funny that letting agents never obtain references from or credit reports on the shoddy, debt-ridden landlords.The agents act in the their own interest first, and the interest of the landlord secondly, but they still take fees of the poor prospective tenant then make them jump through hoops like circus seals.

BTW, I think you should love people, but never love a property. It is a stack of stone or baked clay; a machine to help you live. Media-inspired emotion over houses has caused some of the problems we are complaining about on this forum: elevated prices and gentrification from endless refurbishment, extension, and upgrade.

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BTW, I think you should love people, but never love a property. It is a stack of stone or baked clay; a machine to help you live. Media-inspired emotion over houses has caused some of the problems we are complaining about on this forum: elevated prices and gentrification from endless refurbishment, extension, and upgrade.

People are sweaty, stinky heaps of flesh that generally get in the way and do the opposite of helping you live. Give me a decent house any day.

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