EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DOUGLAS & GORDON
Q I have been renting out my flat but the letting agent looking after the property never seems to be available when I want to contact them. What can I do to make them return my calls?
A It doesn’t sound like you’re off to the best start with your property investment portfolio. When you hand your asset to an agent, they should – at the beginning at least – be in constant contact as they’re handling your money. If it makes you feel any better, the Property Ombudsman receives more complaints about lack of communication than any other subject, so you’re not on your own.
This is set to change this year. From late spring, all lettings agents will have to be members of a redress scheme so you will have the ability to hold them to account. Of course, this doesn’t help with the sleepless nights worrying about your property. You can usually alleviate a lot of these worries by picking an ARLA registered agent, so you know they can be trusted with your asset. If the letting agent is still unresponsive, try sending an email, a registered letter and leave a voicemail, all reminding the agent you expect to be sent the relevant documents. Make sure to explain how often you expect to be contacted. If they refuse to comply, you can send them a warning that you’re going to the Ombudsman, which usually gets a result. And, of course, you always have the free market alternative, which is to threaten to withdraw your business.