Diary of an estate agent: London lettings
This week, a busy lettings agent is asked to purify London's air, scare away some spiders and evict a group of mice - and that's before she has to deal with the noise levels of her tenants' "nocturnal activities"
There’s a torrential downpour this morning, and while battling my way to work with my umbrella all I can think about is the number of emails that will await me in the office about tenants’ leaks. So I am surprised to find that I only have one.
However, ironically, our office has flooded causing the electrics to blow. Several hours are spent trying to rectify the problem, but with the coffee machine out of order I have to hound down my caffeine hit in Starbucks.
The day is not getting any better as the deal for a new managed property I’m meant to be taking on is delayed because of a mouse or three.
Yesterday the current tenants found three of the furry fiends curled up underneath the radiator, apparently trying to keep warm. I must admit that despite myself my first reaction to this news was, “Ah, how sweet.” Then my sensible side clicked in and I dispatched pest control to the property.
This morning I am meeting a tenant regarding building works that are taking place in the house next door. During the course of our discussion she asks me how I intend to “clean the air” surrounding the property to ensure it is sterile enough for her to breathe.
Once I realise she is serious I explain that unfortunately, the quality of air in London isn’t something that I have control over. However, I promise to make sure dust is kept to a minimum during the works.
On my return to the office I am greeted by a tenant’s adorable new “labradoodle” puppy. Several minutes are spent fussing over him, which certainly cheers me up, before it’s down to business and we discuss some of the problems that she has at her flat. These are the kind of visitors that I really like dropping by.
Oh no. First mice, now spiders. An extremely upset tenant calls this afternoon complaining of a spider infestation in the property. When I ask her about the scale of the problem she tells me she saw one in the bath this morning and one in the living room on Monday.
While I try to explain that this isn’t exactly out of the norm, she demands a pest control visit. I decide to go and have a look for myself, despite my fear of eight-legged creatures, and to apply the well-tested method of using a glass to capture each one and a piece of paper slipped under the glass to trap the spider, which is then dispatched. Today is turning out to be surreal.
I return to the office to find a request for the shower in another tenant’s bathroom to be adjusted so that she and her boyfriend can both fit under it at the same time. Needless to say, I politely decline.
A routine property visit is on my books for this morning — or at least, it’s routine until I go into the master bedroom, only to be greeted by the sight of several “adult” toys lined up on the window sill.
There are some things that really don’t need to be relayed back to the landlord, and I think I’ll leave this out of my report. Other than that the property is in a great condition and I’m sure our client will be very happy.
Back in the office, I make the call that I have been putting off all week. The neighbour to one of our properties has complained that she is unable to sleep due to the noise level of our tenants’ “nocturnal activities”.
As I pick up the phone I try to think of the most diplomatic way to broach the subject. My tenant’s response? “I cannot help it if I please my wife.”
This doesn’t solve the problem, but it does put a smile on my face as I head for the pub at 6pm for a much-needed glass of wine.
Becky Johnson works in the property management department of Strutt & Parker's London lettings section (020 7052 9417)