Friday, 23 November 2018

Welcome to our monthly blog - Confessions of a Letting Agent.

Landlords often ask us what goes on behind the scenes at The Key Place and so we thought we would share our experiences, and what we have learned from those experiences, with you.

This week I thought I would tell you about a high end property which we manage in a prestigious Edinburgh location.  We have looked after this property for a number of years, without any problems.  Well, apart from once . . .

The property is a converted warehouse with a stunning interior.  Included in the furnishings are a baby grand piano and original art works by artists including John Bellany and Peter Howson.  We advised the owner to remove these prior to letting however he declined. 

The property was up for rent and I had an enquiry from a local businessman who was keen to view.  I met him myself.  At the viewing he was overwhelmingly interested in the artwork, more so than the property itself I felt.  I have to say that I became a bit suspicious about his motives, as he enthused about the paintings.

The businessman came back to me after the viewing to say that he would like to take the property.  I sent him an application pack.  Although his references checked out, something still didn’t sit right with me.  As he owned a business locally, I took a drive by to have a look.  To my surprise the business didn’t actually exist.  There was a business with a similar sounding name but not the one he claimed to own.  I asked him to confirm the business name and address and he came back with the same information.

While I was snooping around, the businessman phoned wanting to know about the progress of his application.  As he had said he was moving in with a wife and son and they hadn’t seen the property, I suggested a second viewing to let them have a look.  He said he would get back to me on this.  A few days later he called to set up a viewing. 

I met the family at the property and was immediately aware of the very strange dynamic between the 3 of them.  It was as if the businessman had never met the boy and the wife seemed more like an acquaintance who wasn’t particularly interested in looking around the place.  Once again the chap spent almost the entire viewing looking at the paintings.

Well by now I had convinced myself that he certainly had the potential to be an art thief. I shared my concerns with a colleague who was in agreement.  I decided to speak to the owner, who was aware that someone was interested in taking the property.  I told him the whole story and advised him not to take these people as tenants.  He was happy to trust my judgement and so I let them know that their application had been unsuccessful.

I think in business it is essential to listen to your instincts.  It would have been easy to take the businessman’s money to secure a let but who knows what may have happened next.  Rather than choosing this option I stood back and looked at the bigger picture, and at the possible long term repercussions if my suspicions were proved to be correct.  In the end I decided to give up the short term gain in favour of doing what I instinctively felt was right for the landlord.  Shortly after, I secured a good long term let for the landlord, and was able to sleep easy at night!  To this day, the paintings remain in situ.

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