I would say that one of the key financial issues that you face as a landlord, aside from non-payment of rent, is the maintenance and upkeep of your property. Too many times we have taken over a property only to find that unhappy and exiting tenants are, by and large, unhappy and exiting because the maintenance of the property that they rent has not been adequately addressed by those responsible, whether that be the landlord or the letting agent.
I would warrant that it is fair to say that for us, taking over a property because of inadequate maintenance is a common theme. Whether we have been recommended or a landlord has stumbled across us by good luck, I am aware that one of the main reasons that landlords sign on the dotted line and hand over their property to our care is because we have an excellent maintenance approach and that in essence we have that because we have Scott. What's more, the reason our tenants stay with us or leave happy when they do move on (some have actually advised that they will only ever upsize if and when we find them somewhere new, such is their happiness at having an agent who cares) is because we have Scott.
In short, when it comes to your property, Scott is our most valuable asset and the key ingredient that sets us apart from every other letting agent you will meet.
So who is Scott and why is he so important to our agency? Let me explain using a common scenario.
If you have a tenant in a managed property with a heating problem at 9pm on a Saturday night it is very unlikely that they will be able to reach anyone at a high street letting agency to solve it for them. Instead they will speak to an out of hours service or, failing that, they will interrupt your evening with a desperate call. There will be little you can do to help. Worst case your tenant will end up incurring costs on a callout service that he will then expect to argue with you about covering. More likely he will go without heat for the weekend and into the week whilst you or your agent’s plumber rally to find the problem, order parts and fix the issue. Ultimately, when all is said and done your tenant is likely to expect some kind of compensation up until the problem is solved and it is fair to say, because of the lack of communication and assistance early on, will be pretty hacked off by the time it is.
What if you had a Scott?
If you had a Scott, your tenant would have his mobile number. It would be him who receives the call on a Saturday at 9pm and it would be him that troubleshoots in an attempt to get the boiler working. If a phone call failed to resolve the issue Scott would visit the property that evening and see if he could get the boiler working in person with tricks and knacks that he has picked up with temperamental boilers over his many years in the building and maintenance industry. And if all else fails he would call our plumber and see what he would suggest might help – he has been known to do this via Facetime, such is his commitment to trying to get boilers fixed. Lastly if the problem could not be solved, Scott would provide some electrical heaters to tide the tenant over and book an emergency appointment with NO CALL OUT FEE for as soon as possible on Monday.
There would also be no call out fee for Scott’s extra curricular activity - our managed landlords can expect this kind of service as standard. What’s more, when the plumbers bill comes in there won’t be an added commission for us to that either. Unlike most other agents, we don’t believe in up charging our landlords: you pay only what the plumber receives, we aren’t in the business of benefitting from your bad luck. There will be no £616 lightbulb changes (Google it!) when we work for you, that’s for sure.
Where relevant we operate on a 'fix it' rather than 'replace it' mentality but, conversely, we would always be the first to tell our landlords that they are throwing good money after bad by fixing rather than replacing if need be. It isn't in our interest or yours for us to keep fixing something that is giving up the ghost, if a new boiler is needed we aren't scared to deliver the bad news and obtain a fair value quote for the works required.
In short, Scott saves our landlords time and money across the board, whether that be emergencies such as the one above or on planned works such as full refurbishments of landlord properties. In fact, only today I heard him quibbling with a contractor about an additional £60 charged on an invoice of £1,000. Scott is meticulous in his checks and when comparing the invoice to the estimate and works carried out he couldn’t fathom where the additional cost came from and called the contractor to say so. Despite the fact that he isn’t responsible for paying the invoice, Scott still felt duty bound to understand completely why it was for more than expected in order that he could sign off payment of it with a clear conscience that he had done only the best by our landlord. I’m happy to say that our contractor didn’t let us down either, there was a valid reason for this additional cost and it was signed off accordingly.
There is of course more to Scott than just maintenance. As a qualified estate and letting agent his knowledge expands much further than this but to have someone on our team that knows the insides of a buildings fabric and can comment knowledgeably on it gives our landlords (and sellers who LOVE his intervention when it comes to surveys!) such confidence when anything needs doing. They know they are never ripped off and they know he treats their properties like his own. Wouldn’t you want the same for yours?