My experience as a Romans tenant
Until very recently, I was renting a flat through Romans of Wokingham.
When looking for somewhere to live back in the summer of 2014, it was reassuring to be paying my rent to a managing agent that I knew. It meant that I could expect a professional service and be taken care of should any repairs be necessary whilst living in a property they were looking after.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be the case. It quickly became apparent that Romans was motivated only by money. Misleading information was given in order to get me to sign the tenancy agreement, requests for repairs were ignored, and, when the tenancy eventually came to an end, a very spiteful lady tried very hard to reduce the security deposit to nothing.
If you are looking to rent, Romans is an agent to avoid.
The flat at Summer Court, Sindlesham was nothing special. It offered two double bedrooms, a bathroom, a small kitchen and an open plan kitchen and dining area. At £925 per month, it didn’t offer the greatest of value either. The communal areas were neglected by residents too, with some of the houses and their huge fleets of cars being abandoned regularly on the grass.
The check-in process was not the smoothest since the inventory clerk arrived without one of the two door keys. Our sign-up was delayed by 90 minutes whilst staff tried to locate a spare.
When we eventually got into the property, we weren’t too pleased with the condition. The flat wasn’t especially clean and the former tenant had left a rather suspicious collection of adult photographs in one of the wardrobes. We weren’t going to call the flat home until it had been thoroughly cleaned. The check-in took a mere 20 minutes and wasn’t too thorough.
Another concern was the condition of the kitchen worktop surrounding the sink. Water had soaked into it and it had expanded, exposing much of the wood inside. It wasn’t nice to look at and it no doubt harboured lots of nasty bacteria too. Romans explained that the worktop was being dealt with through the landlord’s insurance company and that it would be “repaired during the month of August”. It must have been November time where we were still waiting for a repair and I said that I would refer the matter to Environmental Health should if not fixed immediately.
As luck would have it, the worktop was suddenly in stock (convenient given my threatening email) and Romans were keen to have it fitted as soon as possible, but our lack of availability meant that it wasn’t installed until December.
In October, we had our first property inspection and a handful of repairs were identified. With each one that was pointed out, including a cupboard door that was difficult to open and bathroom sealant coming away, we were told “we will do that for you” but these still hadn’t been attended to nor mentioned again by Romans by the end of our tenancy in April.
We left the flat for our new home at the end of March – around 3 weeks before the tenancy came to an end – so we had plenty of time to turn it around ready for the next tenant. The carpets were professionally cleaned (as required by our contract) but we spent many late nights cleaning and even painting the flat. It was returned to the agent in a considerably better condition than when we moved in. More than anything, we were keen not to have Romans retain any portion of our £1,387 security deposit and every effort was made to ensure it was spotlessly clean.
On the morning of check-out, the inventory clerk told us that the process would take 90 minutes. This came as a bit of a surprise. 20 minutes to check a property when you move in and 90 minutes to check it when you move out? Alarm bells were ringing and it soon became clear that the inspection was to be overly meticulous.
Unable to stick around, I set off back to work, and was called three times during my 45 minute drive back to the office. The inventory clerk was on a bit of a power trip and had started making deductions from our deposit right away. A missing light bulb was to be charged at £60, a missing lamp shade was to be charged at £60 and I dread to think what the tiny specks of water on the shower screen would have been charged at. Asked to justify the charges, the clerk explained that she would have to go to the shops, buy the missing items and then return to replace them. Not much of a justification!
My sister, who was at the property for all of the inspection, rallied around to replace the missing items. The light bulb was an oversight on our part. The missing lampshade was a grotty one and had no place in our home. It was thrown in a cupboard and must have got mixed up with our own belongings or even thrown away as we moved out. Needless to say, if it was taken, it wasn’t taken intentionally!
Moving into the kitchen, the inventory clerk explained that we had broken all three of the freezer drawers and that a charge would apply for these too.
Our security deposit was rapidly being reduced to nothing.
We disputed the freezer drawers, explaining that all three were broken when we moved into the property, but somehow had been missed off of the inventory, but she wasn’t having any of it.
Although not at the property, I was getting very frustrated with what I was hearing and I jumped on the phone to Romans head office, insisting that somebody get to the property right away in order to avoid the legal battle that would otherwise ensue. I didn’t appreciate being charged over the odds for such trivial things nor did I appreciate my family being told to “calm down” after a pain-in-the-arse inventory clerk had just rolled off a whole list of charges.
My contact with Romans prompted a call from the Property Manager to the inventory clerk and it quickly became apparent that an old inventory was being used. It was confirmed that many of the problems identified were actually the fault of a previous tenant. Had we not have disputed just about every ‘problem’, it’s safe to say that our deposit would have been returned less a few hundred pounds – much of which I suspect would have been a commission for the lady inspecting the property.
The following day, it was confirmed that no deductions would be made from our deposit.
If you have no choice but to rent – avoid, avoid, avoid Romans!