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Renting with Ashby Lowery (Conclusion: Don't!)

emoticon:movpy So what's the point of having a blog, if you don't use it to dish the dirt on companies who treat their customers like scum? Exactly!

Delia and I rent a house in Northampton. It's in a fairly 'downmarket' area of Northampton. This is partly because when we moved I was in a low paid job as the sales manager of a local independent builders merchant. Great job, low pay, long story. Smile

The other reason we chose the location, is that it is close to the train station and we knew that I would be commuting. We rented the house through an agency called Ashby Lowery. Their prices seem to be lower than the other agencies in Northampton, unfortunately their customer service seems to be commensurate [1].

During our year of renting with them, the only contact we had with them was when they put the rent out and the money they charged us just to renew the contract. Additionally, like other agencies, they charged us 150 pounds when we first approached them just to check whether they wanted to rent to us or not.

None of this is particularly bad I guess, but worse was to come when the landlord decided to sell the house. Ashby gave us 3 months notice to leave and we started to look for someone else to leave. To cut a long story slightly shorter, the prospective buyers were buying to let and wanted us to stay on as tenants. In the UK housing market it is very common for house sales to fall through [2], but this sale seemed fairly safe as their was no 'chain' and the buyers already had their mortgage agreed. We were very nervous, so we wanted to know whether the landlord would be happy for us to stay on for a few extra days if the exchange of contracts was after our notice expired, or if we could stay on for a couple of weeks to find somewhere else if the sale fell through.

Needless to say, when I spoke to Ashby and they promised to speak to the landlord they never phoned me back. When I phoned them again, the lady who deals with our account paused, and then told me that she had spoken to the landlord and that he didn't want us to stay. We had to be out when the notice expired. She then warned me that by hiring from a private landlord, we would lose the protection that hiring from an agency gave us.

The very next day the buyers came to see us (nice folks). They had been in touch with someone else at Ashby, who had told them that the landlord was fine with us staying. When I spoke to this guy (who was very decent, but didn't normally talk to tenants!) he confirmed this. The only logical conclusion is that the lady I had previously spoken to was telling me bare faced lies! (Kinda puts the protect that an agency offers into perspective...)

As we approached the date of the termination of our contract with Ashby we were nervous, but it looked like everything was on track for an exchange of contracts on the day that our tenancy expired. We tried to talk to Ashby about how to handle the handover, but they accused us of 'cutting them out', because the new landlord wanted to rent privately rather than through them! Bizarre.

Everything went smooth with the handover, we 'moved out' for the day of the exchange of contracts (so that the new owners could purchase with 'vacant possession'), and moved back in the next day.

After the end of the contract we tried to get our (hefty) deposit back. After the seven working days specified in the contract were up we contacted them, and they hadn't even thought about returning the deposit. They said they didn't know what to do because they hadn't been able to do a post-tenancy inspection. Just in case Ashby wanted to do an end of tenancy inspection we had given them the keys a day early - and they knew we were staying.

Anyway, to be fair, after about four weeks of hassling them and asking when our deposit was being returned we did eventually get it back, but I doubt we will ever use them again... Smile

Hmm... By the way, this sort of thing is scary and depressing. Sad

[1]Actually, as they are the only agency I have tried, they could all be this bad.
[2]There is a wonderful UK practise called gazumping. Land transfers, unlike most other contracts, can't be completed by verbal contract, so right up until the exchange of contracts someone else can make a higher offer or either party can pull out.

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2007-05-11 21:23:03 | |


Life Observations

emoticon:pda Have you ever noticed that entering '90' into a microwave results in a lot longer time than entering '100' ? Hmmm...

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2007-05-07 13:19:24 | |
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The Old Blog Archives

There was so much ancient wisdom distilled into my old blog, that I couldn't let it just creep ignominiously into the pages of cyber-history. More to the point I'm still getting some hits from google with the old entries. Here are the archives of my previous Blogger based blog.

The Old Voidspace BlogThe Old Techie Blog

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