Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

There's No Room for Sentiment in This Business; Victoria Whitlock Shows a Cautious Side as She Explains Why She Always Holds out for a Fee before Opening the Door to a tenantThe Accidental Landlord

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

There's No Room for Sentiment in This Business; Victoria Whitlock Shows a Cautious Side as She Explains Why She Always Holds out for a Fee before Opening the Door to a tenantThe Accidental Landlord

Article excerpt

WHEN LOOKING for new tenants, I've learned not to count my chickens until they're hatched. If a viewer tells me they want to take a property, I know it's never a done deal until they hand over the first month's rent.

I got a call from a guy who pleaded with me not to take any offers on my one-bedroom flat until he'd seen it. He said it was exactly what he'd been looking for, it was right around the corner from his office, he was 100 per cent positive he would live there forever and ever and he promised he'd put a deposit down the moment he saw it.

I've come across so many of these impetuous types before that I was absolutely 100 per cent positive he wouldn't even turn up for the viewing we'd arranged for the following evening, let alone rent the flat. I take no pleasure in revealing that I was right. The following morning he emailed to cancel our appointment, saying he'd decided not to move after all.

In my experience, the more a viewer enthuses about a property, the less likely he or she is to take it. If someone has instantly fallen in love with my flat from a few photos on Zoopla, I know they'll probably fall in love with another five minutes later.

Once or twice viewers have asked me to "hold" a property for them, as if it's a new dress or a discounted holiday. No matter how lovely (or desperate) they seem, I always refuse (politely, of course), because I know that nine times out of 10 I'll never hear from them again.

There's no room for sentimentality in this business and, to stick with feathered proverbs, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, so I'll take the best offer I get from the first suitable tenant who is prepared to pay a holding fee to reserve the property. I'm not going to risk losing a suitable tenant by holding a property for someone else who may (but most probably won't) take it, and I'd certainly never agree to let a flat to someone who hasn't even viewed it. …

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