By Steve Roulstone
“The problem is they just do not realise that there are decent honest Landlords and Agents out there!” So said a fellow Letting Agent who just happened to be in my office this morning, when speaking about the Citizens Advice Bureau and the problems she had found in dealing with them. So it seems a regular problem is happening for other Agents, which does nothing to resolve the issue, but does make you realise that CAB are not perhaps the all knowing all seeing force that they convey, when demanding changes in the way we run our Industry.
In fact, it was only last week that I referred to their campaign to remove all Tenants fees, and support for a new five year agreement, but how can they be taken seriously as a champion of the Tenant when (taking our evidence from two conversations with them this morning) it is clear they do not even understand how, for example, the Tenants Deposit Scheme works!
What happened this morning was an initial call from a Lady at the CAB asking why we were not returning a Tenants deposit (The Tenant having been at the house for many years) What she was not aware of was that the Deposit was not being refunded because of cigarette burns, yellowing paintwork caused by smoking, general untidiness and cleaning requirements. This in a house where the Tenant had been warned about the consequences when we carried out our Property visits of smoking inside.
The problem lay with the Lady not being aware of how the DPS (Our preferred Deposit organisation) works. So we had to advise them of what would happen and how the claim would go to adjudication as both parties could not agree. The Tenant stance was one of ‘but I have always paid my rent’ which of course was not acceptable.
Lo and behold, not an hour later, a second person from the CAB phoned and asked for the Tenants DPS reference number. Now for those who do not know, DPS will only give the Tenants reference number to the Tenant, but we would expect CAB to be aware of this at least, as it is such a basic rule of the system. Instead, we had to explain again how the system worked and be spoken to as if we were being obstructive in how we were dealing with the matter. This is unacceptable and speaks volumes about the manner in which CAB view Landlords and Agents.
The fact is, as a professional Agency, we pride ourselves on carrying out our affairs to the letter of the Law. The fact seems to be that our Tenant, who we had of course already the procedure explained to him, could not find anybody with the knowledge at the CAB to advice him well at all. The phone calls of course ended up, providing they were relayed correctly, with the same advice we had already passed on, but while I am of course aware that the CAB do a very good job in advising the public, it seems they need some training on what is now a basic staple of Tenant law, because what should have happened when the Tenant reported his situation in the first place to the CAB was an answer of, ‘Yes, that’s right!’
As a matter of course, we review every situation where we are in communication with organisations who act for others, whether it is another Agent, Solicitor or organisations such as the CAB. In doing so in this case we were satisfied we did our job correctly. The only question was one of language and translation, but as I have stated, the Tenant was long standing and we had held many conversation with him over the years and we are left in do doubt that the problem was not one of miscomprehension, rather a Tenant who did not get what he wanted, feeling he could get help from others. It is a pity we were spoken to by the CAB in such a poor way when what we did was correct and I just hope that in relaying the conversation our Tenant was advised that we are correct in our dealings on his behalf!