When you work for a trade association, especially one representing letting agents, you hear some very strange statements.
For instance, the title of this blog relates a description of doors I genuinely heard uttered last week. I’m not entirely sure what it means, but it was an entertaining conversation worth (in my honest opinion) remarking upon in this blog.
In some ways the logic is sound. A door can certainly do the job of a window in some circumstances; it could even in incorporate windows – if that’s your kind of thing. A window on the other hand would struggle to offer the security and light blocking strengths offered by a solid rectangular portal.
Get on with the blog….
Joking aside it does lead onto a serious point about perception, and the way in which we sometimes interpret things differently to our clients or applicants.
For example, staying with the window theme, not long ago I encountered a landlord facing quite serious complaints that he had endangered the lives of his tenant by sealing up a window, which also served as a fire escape (a poor quality door you might say).
On the face of it he was bang-to-rights. The window was on the first floor, opening onto a flat roof and offering possible salvation in the event of a fire blocking the primary escape route.The local authority viewed this as an essential escape route, or egress window.
The tenants on the other hand, despite benefiting from the presence of an escape route, viewed the window mainly as a doorway to what they treated as a roof terrace. The window, or squat glazed door if you prefer, was simply a means of accessing outside space which they used to full effect – despite the damage to the surface, leaks apparent downstairs and complaints by the neighbours. In effect the tenants viewed this as a door and justification for using the roof as outside space.
Finally, the landlord found himself stuck in the middle. The local authority had made it quite clear that sealing up the window was not acceptable. Then again the neighbours had been equally clear about the noise, and the tenants were unrepentant about the damage done by repeated use of the roof as a terrace. All-in-all the landlord viewed the window as little more than a nuisance.
Who was right?
Arguably, they all were.
- The window was necessary under part B of the building regulations.
- The tenants used the window as an <expletive deleted> door
- It was definitely a nuisance for the landlord.
Why does any of this non-sense matter?
The local authority made their point and the landlord unsealed the window.
Consequently, the tenants resumed their previous behaviour and after numerous complaints about ‘un-tenant-like behaviour’ the landlord lost patience and served them notice.
The tenants lost their home and the landlord lost their rental income.
What has this got to do with letting agents?
On the face of it nothing, but dig a little deeper and the story gets more interesting.
With the risk of becoming too Newtonian, every action has a reaction and it would seem that it may have been the letting agent who set in motion the events which led to the loss of a home and a landlord’s income.
The recently dispossessed tenants were originally sourced by a local letting agent on a find-only contract. All things considered they seemed to do a fine job and found a group of renters who looked good on paper – no complaints there.
Unbeknown to the landlord, the agent had advertised the property as including ‘outside space’ ideal for entertaining. In fact it now transpires that the negotiator took great pleasure in demonstrating his ability to use a window as an ersatz door when showing prospective tenants around – misleading them and misrepresenting the house’s attributes.
i.e. the agent saw the window as a great selling point and exploited it!
As a consequence the landlord has taken his business elsewhere, and last I hear the agent had received correspondence from a (slightly questionable) law firm representing the former tenants and the local branch of trading standards.
What’s the moral of the story?
Well, even though in this instance there are unlikely to be any legal consequences, misrepresentation can have serious ramifications. Quite aside from the legality of his actions, this agent has lost the confidence of at least one landlord and a household of tenants. There will therefore be no repeat commissions from the landlord or business from these tenants looking for a new home.
Landlords and tenants alike trust agents to understand property regulation and tenancy law, smoothing the process of establishing and managing tenancies – which is why it is crucial that they know what they are talking about and how to consider others interpretation of situations.
UKALA can help with this thanks to its comprehensive online library which even includes a section on ‘Glazing and FENSA’ meaning there really is no excuse to mix up a window and a door.