Diary of an estate agent: St John's Wood and Regent's Park

A lettings agent in St John's Wood is gobsmacked by the mysterious fate of a (bird) brained pigeon
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My first call of the week is from an international tenant from a wealthy background, just turned 18. After moving into her first place away from home over the weekend, she is calling me, asking when the maid is coming and what has happened to her car. It turns out that she didn’t realise there were parking restrictions and her car has been impounded. Needless to say, within the hour she has booked herself a weekly domestic cleaner and we have helped her to get her car returned to a new parking bay, which she has rented from another one of my clients in the same block.


I receive a call from a tenant saying that their landlord has just sent them an official-looking email written in a language they don’t understand. I ask them to send it to me and, with the little knowledge that I have left from my bar mitzvah, plus some assistance from my mum and Google Translate, I work out that the landlord has served them notice to terminate the tenancy in Hebrew. I call the landlord to explain that for this document to be valid, it needs to be served by post and written in English. I advise her to let us do it on her behalf and, thankfully, she agrees.


A landlord for whom we have agreed a deal calls up and, before I have the chance to say “good morning”, starts shouting down the phone that he has told us once that he won’t accept our offer, so why are we bothering him? He claims he has already informed us that the offer is too low, that the proposed tenants are not of the best quality, and that he has accepted another offer from another agent. I am somewhat surprised and, when given the chance to speak, explain that the offer he just described as being from another agent is in fact from us, and the tenancy is proceeding as planned.

He then quickly apologises and explains that he has called the wrong agent. He signs the tenancy agreement an hour later and the tenant is all set to move in next Monday.


The landlord of one of our most expensive lettings properties (£8,000 per week) emails to inform me that he has changed his mind about supplying and installing curtains and blinds throughout for the new tenants — who are moving into the place in just two weeks.

I explain that the cost of the tenant doing the curtains themselves will probably be about £8,000, but the landlord is adamant it’s a deal-breaker. I take a deep breath and steel myself for a difficult conversation with the new tenants.

At 7pm I arrive, starving, at a property for a valuation and try to ignore the delicious aroma of dinner as I walk round the house. However, before I can politely say no, a place is laid for me at the table and I sit down with the family, including visiting grandparents, for a three-course meal. Evening appraisals sometimes have their perks.


Sitting looking out on to St John’s Wood High Street, you often witness some extraordinary things: I’m focusing on a tenancy agreement when my concentration is broken by a pigeon flying smack into the office windowpane. It bounces off and falls motionless to the floor, then, to my amazement, a woman walking past stops, casually picks up the bird, puts it in her coat pocket and walks off down the street.

I receive an email confirming that, as well as a home-cooked meal, I also gained an instruction from the house valuation I did last night. And then, I manage to convince the landlord of the curtain-less property that if the tenants do shoulder the cost of the window dressings, he should give them a week’s free rent. He agrees, the tenant agrees, and the deal can still go ahead — phew!

Ben Sloane is letting manager and associate at the St John's Wood and Regent's Park branch of Chesterton Humberts (020 3040 8622; chestertonhumberts.com).

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