Very regularly, and most recently a couple of days ago, the subject of out of hours emergencies is raised by a concerned potential landlord. Very often he has spoken with other agents which use as a selling point the fact that they have an arrangement with a specific contractor to deal with such issues. They claim that this sets them apart and makes them a better agent.
But does it?
We recently had a conversation with such a contractor. We expressed concern about the fact that a landlord would be landed with expensive bills to sort out dripping taps and broken toilet seats on a Sunday, or a bank holiday. This particular company expressed surprise at our cynicism and we were informed that this would never happen.
Entirely co-incidentally, within a few days of this conversation, a tenant of ours came home one evening at 6.00 pm to find that the heating would not work. It was a Tuesday and whilst admittedly it was February, it was mild. (We didn't have the heating on in the office that week.) Unbeknown to us, she contacted this same contractor through Google.
They visited her and very fortunately, had the spare part needed to get the heating up and running. Next day, we were presented with a bill for £500. Naturally, we rang the contractor and reminded them of the conversation that we had earlier. We agreed to pay for the part and for fitting. We agreed, however, that we would not pay the emergency call out, since it would easily have waited until the following day. We settled for £200.
Especially given the popular perception (which is sadly often true) of agents collecting hidden commissions from contractors, we feel this example is worth airing.
By not having such an arrangement in place, we limit the chance of one of our landlords being taken for a ride by an opportunistic contractor. On this occasion, saving 60% of the potential bill.
When considering this arrangement as being beneficial to him, a landlord should think long and hard.
To put this all into perspective, we manage many hundreds of properties and have out of hours issues incredibly rarely. Less than 1% of our properties annually have genuine emergencies.
If you would like to chat to us about this or indeed any other letting related issue, feel free to call us on 01256 830800 or drop in for a coffee.