Estate agents – who are they and what do they actually do?

by misskrupt

I’m glad that we have the renting period behind us. I’m glad that we will never again have to deal with estate agents.

In our experience they are sales men and women. Sale is at the heart of their job. Not properties.
They move from one estate agent to another; sometimes within the same chain. Sometimes they just change employers like women change gloves. Often working in the area they do not know much about at all. There are no courses, no qualifiactions to be gained in this trade; no trainings for them. 
At this point you might say ‘This does not matter. They do know everything about the properties and that’s important’.
But do they?
Here are some examples of ignorance.
1. We used to rent lovely two bedroom flat for several years. We have made few friends amongst other flat owners in the building and so we learned their stories as well as those of the building itself. Please note that all the flats had a share of freehold. 
At the end of the tenure I spoke to the lettings manager about necessary window repairs (windows were almost falling apart!).
To which she replied: ‘Windows are the responsibility of the management company, not the owner’.
Errrr… The management company does what owners tell them to do. Management company (in this case) was employed by the owners.
And shouldn’t you be reporting this to owners?
2. ‘This is a leasehold flat. I know because when I was on the phone to them, J. said she will have to check this in the lease’.
Of course there is a lease! Every flat has got a lease, be it a leasehold or a share of freehold flat.
Leasehold is the document describing who is responsible for example for the upkeep of windows.
3. ‘There is a rat visiting our kitchen. Can we have it sorted, please?’
Two days later nothing. I phoned the estate agent again. And she comforted me by saying ‘That’s normal in London. We are all always within 5 metres from a rat’.
4. First viewing of the flat, before signing the contract.
We arrived two minutes late but there was no sign of an estate agent. We lived three houses away so we didn’t take our mobile phones with us. What for?
After waiting for a several minutes Rupert decided he will go back for his mobile phone. No missed phone calls. Have they forgotten?
He phoned them and the lettings manager said that she is busy and can’t come to the viewing. But the current owner should be home so he will show us around.
And so he did. But he was as surprised as we were.
5. Week after we’ve moved out and returned the keys to the estate agent, there was still no sign of our deposit in the bank account.
I phoned the lettings manager to ask her about it and she replied ‘J. (The owner of the estate agency) must see the flat. Only she can sign it off’.
Why didn’t she come view the flat then and collect the keys from us?!?!