HOW BAD IS IT WHEN YOU HAVE TO WRITE A PROPERTY REVIEW FOR YOUR OWN COMPANY TOUCHSTONE SUCK AND THAT MT FRIENDS IS THE TRUTH
When a landlord lets a property he/she not only has to meet many pieces of regulation and legislation but he/she must also meet the conditions of the lease on the property.
When you have a problem your first port of call is the Property Management company that is overseeing your building. If this problem is not being dealt with by the Property Management company, then they are breaking the conditions of the lease. You may ask the Management company to enforce the terms of the lease.
Please note it is within your rights to involve the local authority/ environmental health if you feel you have a health and safety issue that is being breeched.
Local authorities have many powers of enforcement many of the issues that concern tenants are covered in the Decent Homes Standard
Using the Housing Health and Safety Hazard Rating System, introduced in the Housing Act 2004
A local authority can identify issues and, depending on the risk to health and well being of the occupiers, can take action to ensure that the standards are improved. All of this applies to any rented property.
There is no aspect of rental property that is not covered by legislation or regulation.
I am a tenant of Touchstone Residential Lettings and must say that I would recommend them to ANYONE, I have had nothing but excellent service, friendly & helpful staff members all along. Their administration fees were below the market average. When I've reported maintenance works they have been carried out by their contractors who themselves have been very polite and trustworthy. Well done Touchstone, keep up the good work!
Touchstone are perhaps the rudest and nastiest lettings company i have come across. They are nice as pie to start with but then start to get nastier the minute you question them. We have a house with no working bath or shower plus very many other issues and this has been going on for over a month now, yet all they do is send workmen in to give quotes. They don't seem to care about the law or that people have lives. There main company is Paladin which is a holding company, and i believe they used to be known as Kyng properties limited ( who went into liquidation ). They will also send you random non payment letters, even when you are up to date, accuse you of things that have nothing to do with you and act as if you are nothing to them. They also never seem to actually know anything about your account with them, and I suspect there staff are all very under trained. This company suck big time as letting agents and i suspect they wouldn't even be able to sweep a yard properly. Completely un professional, totally ridiculous and don't even seem to understand or know the law.
I am currently in the process of dealing with Touchstone (Aylesbury) as a tenant and so far, have been less than impressed.
They're lovely, helpful and come across as very genuine at first, but as soon as you've handed over the admin deposit on a property, they turn into the agency from hell!
Their telephone manner gets worse with every phone call, they seem very uninterested in handing over the keys (why should they care right!?) and move the goal posts continually.
Landlords beware - I suspect they're leaving most of their tenants with an awful taste in their mouths and will probably drive away excellent fits for your property.
The only reason why I'm still dealing with them is because I have to atm, however, I'll be out of this property based on their unprofessional conduct, as soon as I can - just so I don't have to deal with them.
On the plus side, Jo at Touchstone is actually good at her job and can be trusted.
Do not deal with this agency. They will be nice and helpful when you move in but when you move out beware!
They will give you a leaflet about "keeping your deposit safe" and in that it says normal wear and tear is allowed. This is not so.
They will give you a list of what to clean when you leave but despite you cleaning it, they will lie and say you haven't! We were told to clean the skirting boards (which I scrubbed with soapy water) and wash the walls (which we did but how is this allowing for normal wear and tear!?). the list DID NOT say clean the radiators or lampshades or tops of doors. We had the carpets professionally cleaned which we paid for ourselves.
After their inspection they phoned and said you need to clean your radiators and then you'll be fine, so we went back in to clean the radiators (where is normal wear and tear in there!) and then gave the keys back.
Without telling us, they docked £162 from our deposit because they said the doors had dust on the top and the lampshades were dusty and the skirting boards were dusty!!!!! and they had to get a cleaner in for "5 hours"!!! I have photos that proves this isn't the case. and they didn't say this when they phoned with the inspection so to do this AFTER telling us to just clean the radiators is UNFAIR (and they docked us £60 "checkout fee" which we didn't know about either!!!)
We were tenants that flew through all the 6 monthly inspections they did, and they even asked us to leave behind kitchen shelves that we had bought and then charged us for cleaning them!? when we asked to have them back they said no!
How they can live with themselves being liars and cheaters, i don't know, but what goes around comes around. Don touch them with a barge pole. Bunch of devil workers.
UPDATE: I have added a little bit about our experience with this estate agent when we moved out at the end of this review.
If you have read my reviews on Gatekeeper Properties and Claire Lloyd Properties you will know that my husband and I had quite a few problems finding a house to rent when we first moved to Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. I felt it appropriate that I should review the final real estate agent in our housing trilogy: Touchstone Residential Lettings.
I will only be reviewing the Aylesbury branch of Touchstone Residential Lettings as that is the only one with which I have had dealings. Touchstone is the lettings side of Martin Kemp Property Services in Aylesbury, with which they share office space in the town centre on Buckingham Street (down from Sainsbury's). It was previously under the name Castle Estates, which name still appears on some of their paperwork. They are members of the National Association of Estate Agents and The Property Ombudsman.
Due to the problems detailed in my previous two estate agent reviews, my husband and I were back on the property market just a few days before he started his new job. We needed a property that allowed a large dog, and this was proving to be a real challenge to find. Thankfully, Touchstone had one that suited our criteria. We booked a viewing. The agent met us at the property. She was very professional, answered all our questions, and brought with her the terms and conditions, a list of fees, and a skeleton copy of the contract (which I had requested when I booked the appointment). After viewing two other properties (with other companies) with proved unsuitable and carefully reading the paperwork we had requested, we decided to go with the Touchstone property.
First off, I must say their administration fees (for the tenant) are the most reasonable of any company we researched. For a couple, the application fee was £225 (that was 8 months ago, it might have increased when VAT went up). Unlike most other companies, if you cancel before referencing, you are refunded all but £75 of that amount. If you cancel after referencing or fail referencing you are refunded all but £125 of that amount All the other companies we researched keep the entire amount if you stop the process at any time.
Since time was an issue, we filled out the paperwork in the office the same day as the viewing. The agent submitted the necessary information to the referencing company right away. In addition, she faxed supporting documents (employment contract, etc.) in order to speed up the process. She was also very helpful and understanding of our situation. For example, our current landlady's mother was in hospital at this time. We feared that she was feeling a bit harassed by referencing companies (this was after all the third time in less than 2 weeks), they allowed us to provide our next most recent landlord's details and the phone number to the previous referencing company (I'm not sure which they contacted). In any case, the referencing company cleared us the very next day (I'm sure that must be some kind of record).
Two working days later we signed the contract and picked up the keys. No changes were needed. The contract was correct the first time round (unlike those from both Gatekeeper and Claire Lloyd, which both had numerous erros needing correction). To make things clear, we viewed the property on a Thursday and moved in the following Tuesday: impressive, to say the least. We were given a copy of the inventory, which we had 5 days to review, sign, and return with any corrections. I will say that the inventory had quite a few mistakes. It looked to have been virtually unchanged from when the previous tenant moved in (lots of things like the carpet were listed as new 2007 when in fact it was quite worn in places, it being three years later), but Touchstone did not give us any hassle about the corrections we listed.
Shortly after we moved in I noticed the pipes under the sink were leaking. I contacted Touchstone and a day or two later a plumber came out to fix the issue.
We were on a six month lease. Renewing couldn't have been easier. At about 5 months we expressed our wish to stay on another 6 months (at least). Someone from Touchstone came out to take a look at the property (to make sure we were taking care of the property well). A few days later we got a paper in the mail from the landlord saying all we needed to do was sign saying we renewed under the same terms as the previous contract and mail the page back (we kept a copy, of course). Very easy.
Martin Kemp Property Services and Touchstone Residential Lettings do not have a very extensive list of properties. They tend towards the villages surrounding Aylesbury. You can search for rental options on either touchstoneresidential.co.uk or martinkemp.co.uk. Neither website is particularly easy to navigate and the results are given in a rather awkward format. However, the properties are also listed on rightmove.co.uk in a better format and with better search options.
In a perfect world, I would give Touchstone Residential Lettings 4 out of 5 stars (reduced one star for the limited listings, the poor website, and the inaccurate inventory). However, we do not live in a perfect world. It seems that estate agents (particularly on the letting side of things) are by and large rather dishonest, frustrating creatures. This is my experience both in the USA and in the UK. So, compared to the others in the business, Touchstone stand out as a radiant star. They were (and continue to be) professional, helpful, efficient, and understanding. They treat potential tenants as human beings and not just nuisances to be dealt with as quickly as possible. I can therefore give them nothing less than 5 out of 5 stars- representing excellence in their field.
UPDATE: Sadly, Touchstone was not nearly as good to work with when we moved out. I contacted our landlady 2 months before we were due to move out to confirm that we would indeed be moving out as planned. About 2 weeks before I contacted the estate agent to confirm which day we would be vacating the property. They told me they would be mailing me more information about the moving out process, but it never came. I was rather wrapped up with the stresses of buying a house (which did not go as smoothly as hoped) so I didn't follow up the missing paperwork until a few days before we were due to move. I phoned the estate agent but the person I needed to talk to was out- she was supposed to call me back, but didn't. The day before we were moving I called again and was told they couldn't check me out on that day because they didn't have any available slots. I didn't have the option of changing the day as we were leaving town the following morning. In the end I had to drop off the keys and not attend the check out inventory. This proved to be a mistake as I am absolutely sure a number of the things they charged us for were complete fabrication. We argued the case, but since we weren't there on the day it was our word against theirs.
I was also quite annoyed by some of the nit picking things they charged us for- such as a few cobwebs around the light fittings. I should note that the house had a multitude of spiders and cobwebs often appeared overnight. Also, the house had extremely low quality paint that scuffed if you so much as touched it with your hand- so obviously there were a few marks on the walls- particularly where we put the kitchen bin. I thought charging us in excess of £100 for scuffed paint was unreasonable. In the USA, these types of things considered "fair wear and tear" meaning they are taken as the normal wear a house will undergo whilst having someone in residence. Your monthly rent covers these things. Money is only taken from your deposit for damage beyond what is reasonable wear. Obviously things work a bit differently here. I will admit I was quite cross at the charges as our rent was £200 more per month than the mortgage for a considerably larger property in the same neighbourhood. If I wasn't paying the extra to cover reasonable wear (indeed, the property was MUCH, MUCH cleaner when we moved out than when we moved in), what was I paying for?
I have reduced my rating to 4 stars, if I'm honest, they probably don't deserve more than 3.
This review is also on ciao under the same name.