There are a number of reasons you might want to complain about your letting agent, from negligent service to discrimination. If you find yourself in such a situation, there are specific steps you should take, each with an increasing level of severity.
Reasons to complain about your letting agent
While there is no definitive list of things that will give you grounds to complain about your letting agent, here is a list of common complaints, and ones which you are well within your rights to complain about:
- Unexpected or hidden fees – If your letting agent suddenly says you’ve got to pay fees that you weren’t expecting, or insists you pay fees you don’t believe is fair or reasonable, you are wise to lodge a complaint.
- If your letting agent is responsible for completing repairs and maintenance tasks in your home but they are failing to do what’s needed, despite your repeated requests, you should complain.
- If your letting agent harrasses you, for instance by entering your home without your permission, you should complain.
- If your letting agent discriminates against you on the grounds of your gender, race, sexuality, nationality, age, and so on, you should complain. It might be that they charge you higher rent, insist on a larger deposit, or even deny you tenancy application.
The most important thing to remember is, don’t be afraid to complain about your letting agent if you think they have treated you poorly or unfairly. It is well within your rights do to so. Their job is to serve you and provide you with a good, safe home, so don’t feel nervous or intimidated when making them aware of your disappointment.
Speak to your letting agent
The first step you should take is call your letting agent and politely explain your situation and exactly what you’re not happy with. This is an important moment in your relationship with your agent and can dictate whether your ongoing discussions will be amicable or fractious.
Hopefully, your letting agent will respond positively to your conversation and quickly try to address your complaint. This is why, even if you believe your agent to have behaved poorly, it’s in your interest to be friendly – if you go in angry, you might not get a good reception.
There is, of course, a chance your agent will not respond well to your conversation, in which case, you’ll need to take the next step.
Write a formal letter to your agent
If a friendly conversation doesn’t help, it’s time to write a slightly less friendly, far more formal letter of complaint. You will find your letting agent’s postal address somewhere on your tenancy agreement.
In this letter, be sure to mention everything you are unhappy with and include any documentation which supports your argument that the letting agent has been dissatisfactory. This might mean including receipts for repairs you have had to pay for yourself, or a doctor’s note if your agent’s negligence has negatively affected your health.
Take your complaint the ombudsman
If your letter is met by silence or a dissatisfactory response from the agent, your next port of call is the industry ombudsman.
The ombudsman is an organisation in place to oversee the actions and behavior of letting agents (as well as other property professionals). If agents act illegally or neglect to provide the proper service to tenants, the ombudsman steps in to put things right.
You should contact them via email at first and be sure to clearly state exactly what your complaint is, the negative effects your agent has had on your health and wellbeing, and the steps you’ve taken so far to try and put things right.
If the ombudsman believes that your agent has failed to perform their duties properly or fairly, they will help you by putting further pressure on the agent to put things right.
Go to the council
If the ombudsman can’t help you, or if their efforts don’t work, you can try contacting the local council, but the council will only help you in specific situations, such as discrimination, harassment, illegal eviction, and neglected repairs which are causing health and safety risks.
As you did with the ombudsman, contact your council in writing and be sure to include details on every attempt you’ve made to put things right.
Have you complained about your letting agent? Perhaps you have some advice for our readers? Let us know in the comments section below.
And if you have and lettings-related questions for our property expert, Russell Quirk, drop it below and he will get right back to you.