In need of staff training.
Darlows Estate Agents
Member Name: punkrockpenguin
Darlows Estate Agents
Advantages: We did get a nice house in the end.
Disadvantages: See below, too many to list again.
Very recently, I and some of my good friends (who are now my housemtes) recently went through Darlows in order to rent a house. We are all students, and this was our first time dealing with a letting agent. At first, during the viewing period, everything was going fine, the letting agent was very thorough with his 'tour' of the house, he was very good at selling it. However, once we decided to take the house off the market, the problems began. There were a ridiculous amount of fees that needed to be paid, from administration fees and guarantor fees, to the usual deposits and first month of rent. We were not informed that some of these payments were required until sometimes a few days before the payment was needed. Fees were often changed without us being informed until the last minute, which for students, was a major problem.
There was also the issue of the agent in question not giving us the relevant forms in time. Had he given us the forms when he was meant to, we could have saved a month in time and had the payments made earlier and in better time. We had to actually call Darlows ourselves and ask what we needed to do next, at which point they said "Have you filled out the forms we gave you?". Upon informing them that we were not given the forms, they tried to blame it on us, yet another, more helpful member of staff said that we should have been given the forms upon paying the administration fee and taking the house off the market.
While I am on the topic of forms, the vast majority of the forms asked for very personal details, including bank details, and a check box that stated the information would be passed onto a 3rd party. These were the tennatn applicant forms and the guarantor forms. The forms also did not state who and what the guarantors were actually covering, therefore as far as tehy were aware, they could have been signing to cover any and all failed payments.
There were also many occasions in which we would ask the agent to contact the landlord on our behalf to answer important questions about bill payments, house contents, furnishing etc., and the agent proved very unreliable in these circumstances.
During making the final payments for the house, the agent was pressuring us to make payments earlier and changing the final payment date, bringing it forward, without informing us, yet claiming he had. There was a lot of misinformation bassed back and forth without us realizing, and a lot of information withheld from us.
Finally, on the very last day that everything needed, the agent finally dropped on us the fact that we needed to show evidence of him insurance, which we did not know about. Thankfully by this point we were able to deal with the landlord directly and bypass Darlows completely. Our experiences with Darlows were all incredibnly frustrating, and at times we risked annoying the alndlord through no fault of our own, simply because the agents involved were poorly trained and unable to help us.
To the credit of the branch we used, there was one woman who worked there who, at the last minute, was able to help us, but before then there was far too much confusion passing through the office and none of the collegues stopped to correct each other when obvious mistakes were being made.
All in all, we recommend not using Darlows, or at least using extreme caution, and seeking advice from people who do know how letting agents should be run.
Summary: Incredibly poor customer service.