The role of the letting agent is a varied one, but until yesterday I was unaware that my ‘coat of may colours’ (name the musical), sported a badge saying ‘pest control’. I was also unaware that cats were considered ‘vermin’ by certain members of the community. I am not myself a cat person but I think that I would find it a little excessive to ring up a lettings agency demanding the immediate demise of the feline belonging to one of their tenants. The fun and games started when a ‘gentleman’ (I suggest that one looks up the definition of ‘irony’ in the dictionary), rang the office and opened the conversation with the immortal line, “one of your tenants has a cat that keeps @&*ting in my garden” with the follow up question of,”what are you going to do about it?”
Having been on all the corporate b!”£*&^t courses, I responded by thanking him profusely for his call, confirming that his call was important to us, that I was taking on board what he had to say and that by singing from the same song sheet we could all move forward…. and all those course lecturers thought that I was looking at the sports pages… To allow me to give him the relevant feedback I asked for his name, which he declined to offer, his number, which he also declined to offer and his address, that (un)surprisingly he also failed to provide. He had identified us as the agent because he remembered our company sign being outside the property prior to be it being let. He was not wholly reticent on providing me with information as he confirmed that he would continue to trap the cat in a purpose built cage designed to catch cats, whom he considered to be vermin. He did though ask me to confirm what I was going to do about it. Cynicism about the content of corporate courses aside, I would in normal circumstances have told him that I would investigate the matter and as a matter of courtesy would report back to him with my findings. I would in fact have been telling a falsehood as returning calls is a little difficult with no contact details. In all seriousness, a lettings agency does have an obligation to investigate and attempt to resolve genuine complaints involving one of their properties. It becomes a little more difficult when anonymous callers demand the instantaneous extermination of a much-loved family pet that has been seen in the vicinity of a property where our agency once had a sign. For those of you who are perhaps wondering whether I have failed in my duty of care – not least to the felis catus community – I made some calls and established that the cat did exist and did belong to one of out tenants. Neighbours (with the exception of Mr Anonymous) had no issue with the cat’s behaviour or toiletry habits. I am now confident that although I was unable to collect my vermin control badge, I will forever be invited to the Cats’ Protection League Christmas party.