It’s a busy summer season - so, of course it’s raining. I arrive early at the office having got completely drenched en route, clutching coffee, umbrella and diary. I settle at my desk and the word: “HELP!” flashes on my screen. One of our tenants has managed to lock himself out after trying to catch his cat that was escaping into the garden. The poor guy had to wait outside, thankfully in his pyjamas, until his girlfriend returned from her weekly facial!
A deal fell through over the weekend. Luckily it takes nanoseconds to replace it with another tenant waiting in the wings and I agree a quicker move-in date, so my client is over the moon.
The yummy-mummy school brigade is still out of town on glamorous holidays which makes driving, walking, and parking around Fulham and Parsons Green so easy. Usually I am racing against the clock, whereas today I find myself surprisingly early at all my viewings. I could get used to this.
My morning mission is weekly calls to all my landlords to keep them up to date. And then I have the odd special client, aka new best friend, that I have to speak to at least once a day because every detail matters, or maybe they just like the sound of my voice? One call today lasts 40 minutes and she actually confesses that she likes having her hand held through the process. It makes me remember how stressful it can be letting your own property, that having to let go of your home to a tenant is not easy.
I receive a call from a potential new client who has a highly desirable five- bedroom house in the heart of Parsons Green. I am really excited about seeing the property, I just can’t get enough family homes - it’s been a wipeout. I whizz round to meet the landlord, who actually has a few investments in the area, too, so we get chatting and I manage to get instructed on two more properties. Keys in hand, I arrange viewings with my team and their prospective tenants for this afternoon.
Busy morning with three different tenants moving in. I nip round to each property armed with a bottle of fizz and a move-in card and check that there are no pre-move unwelcome surprises in store. Lo and behold, I enter the home I am expecting to be empty and am confronted with a nightmare of mess and unwanted furniture. I’m not happy and call the landlord who sends a “rent-a-van” just in time and gets the whole lot removed. Phew — problem solved.
More rain… what is this summer all about? We are launching a new house-to-let today, rather last-minute, so I’m using emergency caterers and keeping everything crossed that we’ll have enough people attend and enough food to go round agents, relocation agents and prospective tenants. After half an hour, we realise that our new caterer has under-catered - obviously all this rain has driven everyone indoors for a cheer-up launch. As the last quail’s egg and smoked salmon canapé vanishes, we rush out to the local corner shop and clean them out of cashew nuts and snacks and then race back.
Friday’s manic as ever, with last-minute move-ins and things to get agreed before the weekend. The family that moved into the unfurnished house earlier this week call to say that some of their furniture has been delayed and would the landlord, who had to move all his furniture out before they arrived, move it back in again. WHAT? But my “Mr Very Kind Landlord” wishes his tenants to be happy so agrees to lend them a few things.
I finally sit down with my team, having spent most of the week communicating by voicemail and texts. The going is pretty good right now. In spite of the lack of properties across the board, we have increased ours by 20 per cent, so prospective tenants are swarming around us like bees to a honey pot. By today, we are exhausted. But the sun is finally shining so we go for team Pimm’s on the green!
Nicky Upton is head of lettings at Strutt & Parker's office in Fulham (020 7731 7100)