…. other than an inherent dislike of people who have it all; looks, flair, sartorial elegance, exquisite taste, Errol Flynn-like measurements… Anyway, enough about that lucky %^&£$) who we would all like to be. It is though an interesting question. Having popped across to advise the Cordoba football team on the benefits of a diamond formation and enjoying a post-training sangria, I met a couple who had every reason to think letting agents were the spawn of the devil. Over a six year period, renting throughout through the same agent, they had changed properties four times as every time they had finally agreed upon where to put the sofa the landlord had decided to sell the property. Each time, their dutiful agent ‘rescued’ them from their plight by sourcing another property for them straight away. Four times? Of course, on each occasion, as it was a new landlord the agent said that they had to be re-referenced; at £300 each time. Really.
On my return, I researched their situation a little further as I had the details of where they had lived throughout their own version of Changing Rooms. At no time did the properties that had been claimed that the landlord wanted to sell ever appeared for sale. They had though appeared as available to rent on several occasions, (at the exact time when a tenancy would be up for renewal) and had been let within weeks. The four properties had, in a six year period, generated a total of twelve new rental contracts. So that is twelve lots of charges to the landlord for “finding” a new tenant (one can just hear the conversation, “Sorry Mr Landlord, the tenants want to move out, but don’t worry, we will have it let again soon..”) and twelve lots of administration/referencing fees to the prospective tenants. As Noel Biderman replied when asked why he ran the online ‘dating’ service Ashley Madison for married men and women that has 30 MILLION members, “You do the math!” In these parts, it is commonly known as, ‘having someone’s pants down’ but not in the capacity envisaged by the Ashley Madison members. Others may call it a variant on a Ponzi scheme. It is obtaining money under false pretences. Much like half of the Cordoba football team.
Yes, we are all in the business, indeed any business, to make money. That is the aphorism. Unless of course you run a charity like Kids Company where you don’t want to make any money, but you don’t pay any tax or VAT and then get the Labour chancellor to write off £600,000. I wonder whether that comes up in the current leadership election? But that is for another blog. Without wishing to have sole occupancy of the moral high ground, how does a letting agent reconcile this and be able to sleep at night? Very well indeed I would imagine, in the master bedroom beside the pneumatic blonde PA. There lies a whole new meaning to the question, “Do you take shorthand?”