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Part 2: Letting our home - choosing a letting agent

Many estate agents also do lettings as part of their business and most offer a variety of services from full property management to simply collecting the rent.
More information about
letting agents

We used Particia Shepherd RLMS, of 93 Collingwood Road, Sutton, Surrey SM1 2QH. We chose this firm because it appeared to be a successful local family firm who dealt only in lettings, ie they were dedicated to lettings and did not do property sales. Here follows the tale of the good, the bad, and the sometimes very ugly.

After we had contacted Patricia Shepherd, the firm promptly sent round someone to have a look at our property and assess what sort of rent we might hope to get. So far so good, although the agent did suggest that we might have more luck renting out if we'd painted the house in more neutral colours. We had a fairly bright colour scheme in one of the rooms but we felt the room was big enough to take it. Anyway, at least the carpets were beige throughout and in good condition.

The agent then arranged a viewing of a potential tenant - a single mother with three children. To our surprise she turned up with her parents. They had a good look around and decided there and then that she wanted to take the place - the parents were just there to give a second opinion as apparently some previous places offered for rent were real shockers. Oh, and by the way, they said they loved the colours in the large back room. And the parents were keen gardeners and looked forward to helping maintain our remodelled garden with its several trees and shrubs, its flourishing herb garden, and its new ornamental archway.

Anyway, we were happy to think we'd got it sorted before we left and it seemed as though a nice family was going to be looking after our home during our absence. Aaargh! Hindsight is a great thing. Our tenant, Karen Holliday, turned out to be the tenant from hell, but more of that later.

We decided to go for full management of our property. This was the most expensive option but included regular inspections of the property and various other services such as organising repairs as and when required. We thought this was the best option for us since we were to be out of the country. The agent also set up our lease, which was a short-term assured lease and helped us to arrange content insurance cover.
More information: lease and content insurance .

Given that we expected to move into the property on our return from the overseas posting, we didn't want to move into a furnished but empty house so we left enough household items such as dishes, sheets, etc (all either brand new or in very good condition) so that we could walk in with just our suitcases on return.

The agent came to do a final inventory just before we left (so close to our departure, in fact, that it wasn't completed on paper until after we'd gone). It was a stressful time for us, being just before such a major move, but the agent put us at our ease and we were very happy indeed with the service.

We flew off into the sunset, happy that everything would be taken care of in our absence.

Part 3: things start to go wrong

IMPORTANT NOTICE: To avoid confusion in case there are other persons of the same name: the Karen Holliday, aka Karen Davies, referred to on this website is the one who previously lived in Senga Road, Hackbridge and then at 30 Longfield Avenue, Hackbridge, Surrey, SM6 7BA, United Kingdom, from July 2001 until her eviction in June 2005. To the best of our knowledge she then continued to reside in the London Borough of Sutton.

LEGAL NOTICE: Remember - if it's true, it can't be libel.

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