Russells are market leaders in the letting and management of quality properties. We do not let or manage student accommodation or bedsits. Our core market is quality middle market properties, from studios upwards to large City and Country homes.
We are a family firm with Robert and Teresa Russell responsible for the day to day running of the business, with Tanya Pearson being directly responsible for the Cambridge and Sawston Lettings Offices. We have many members of staff who have been with us for a significant number of years. We can trace our roots back to 1871.
Our business is based on the principles of honesty, integrity and professionalism together with a desire to provide a high level of approachable customer service. The ultimate aim is to exceed the expectations you might have of the average letting agent.
The Cambridge office is situated in a prime location at Dukes Court on Newmarket Road opposite the Cambridge Building Society headquarters occupying a modern and spacious building with ample easy car parking to the front making visiting us and easy and pleasant experience.
All available properties are offered from our Cambridge and Sawston office together with the Fenland offices. We advertise extensively on major websites including Rightmove, Find a Property, Prime Location, Property Live, Homes Now and of course our own very well regarded website with a simple search facility. We continue to advertise extensively in the local property press.
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Latest reviews of Agent
We completely agree with these negative reviews. Russells are absolutely atrocious and their professional standards are appalling. We are in the process of raising a dispute through the HM Court & Tribunal Service and have launched a campaign to question the ethics of this organisation and address their failings. We would welcome hearing from anyone willing to share their experiences. Details can be found here: http://www.tenantsforjustice.co.uk. The ultimate aim is to generate as much interest and support as possible and gain exposure through social media including Facebook and Twitter and also the local press via the Cambridge Evening News so please spread the word.
Our experience is discourteous treatment of good tenants. Since Russells were taken over by Countrywide their inclusive services to landlords have decreased which in our experience has led to poor maintenance of the property. Our concerns have failed to be addressed and there have been delays in delaing with maintenance issues.
Inspections are frequently cancelled and rearranged after an appointment has been made. The fees are disproportionate and there are hidden charges.
1)Charges rise far and beyond any reasonable amount.
2)Tenants are rarely, if ever, notified of people coming to the property.
3)Tenancy renewals can be a nightmare and can result in illegal notices to quit for not providing irrelevant information by a date not advised.
3) Properties are not maintained, they claim they have told landlords, but actually haven't.
4) Getting your deposit back is a trial worthy of Hercules. Russells help themselves to 15% of it, and then drag their heels about paying it back.
I would strongly suggest that you avoid this agency like the Plague and go with a competent and reliable agency instead.
Once you have made a financial commitment - shockingly rude and hard-nosed, inefficient and unprofessional, high charges. Just bloody awful.
The review below is only the tip of the problematic iceberg for most tenants, a year of 2 previous to this i rented a property from Russell's. The property was nice, but we had a break in and had to claim through the insurance they offer through the tenancy, all was well but a complete denial of the break-in when i requested double glazed windows was the start of my problems (i hasten to add the property a month after i moved out was broken into again).
The 2 tenants i lived with wanted to move out so we applied for 2 new tenants to move in after being messed around for nearly 2 months, and paying credit check fees and guarantor fees on THE NIGHT BEFORE they were meant to move in i had a call stating the landlord did not want the new tenants in and i had 2 months to move out. £1000 a month for two months with bills on top for a final year student....PRICEY! Also the landlord denies all knowledge of the situation as he was surprised to come across me moving out. Communication is not their forte.
The deposit problem, easily solved i went through the dispute agency you are registered with and it was proven the 15% taken for 'cleaning' you can recover as they can not produce cleaning receipts. So please do this as they are simply pocketing the money (you have 6 months after tenancy to get in touch).
They are rude and have no understanding of the stress they put tenants through. If you feel that this may be an exaggeration of how badly managed this agency is, then simply ask a few people around Cambridge, it won't take you long to find similar opinion.
A request for double glazed windows is a request which we pass on to the landlord. We are only agents for the property and must follow a landlord’s instructions.
Tenants sign jointly and severally on the tenancy agreement. There is a procedure for changing tenants during the course of the tenancy but there is no legal obligation on a landlord to agree to any changes. Ultimately it is the landlord’s prerogative not to allow a change of tenancy or indeed to bring a tenancy to its conclusion. Tenants sign a legally binding contract. Ultimately, as outlined above, we must follow a landlord’s instructions. We do not take 15% for cleaning properties. This is wholly inaccurate. Our scale of fees is transparent and clear.
Any of the directors are happy to meet with any unhappy tenant to discuss their issues. Any complaints will be fairly and transparently investigated in accordance with our complaints procedure. We are also members of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, the RICS and the Ombudsman for Lettings. Genuine complaints should therefore be referred either to ourselves via our complaints procedure or one of these bodies who will investigate, rather than posting anonymous posts.
I have rented before, but never have I witnessed so many hidden charges involved in a rental company.
There was a £120 legal fee before we even started, then £65 per person for referencing. Even though I am a homeowner, and make over £30,000 a year, Russells decided that my place of work had not provided enough data about my salary for me to move forward with the letting (this after 2 weeks of waiting and not hearing anything). They then decided I needed a guarantor and they wouldn't let me move forward without one. My mother happily completed the forms and sent them in. To be told that the address on the forms were incorrect and there would be a further delay as the postage forwarding service wasnt as fast as normal mail! Every single stage of the process has been slow, and 4 weeks after viewing the house there has still been no confirmation that we will get the house we want! The company is in no hurry to do anything other than take costs from us - as I needed a "guarantor" they took another £65 from us for the referencing, even though when I spoke to my HR director, he was willing to pass on the salary information that made the need for one redundant. Considering they charge £65 a reference, you would hope that Russells would at least proceed and complete them accurately!
Also, the "deposit" is a joke. There is no way that you can get the whole of it back, which to me questions the title of "deposit". 15% they keep, as a bonus for them, and there is a compulsury charge for cleaning when you leave the property, no matter how tidy you have left the place. For the 3 bedroom property we are renting it is £150! This is not fair as I can guarantee I will not leave the place with £150 worth of mess!
So, thats £675 of charges for me as a tennant. This company is money grabbing as I know, from experience as a landlord that they take a huge management cost the other side too! We are stuck with this company as the house we want is far better than any others we have seen, but if you can, avoid Russells!
In summary: slow, lazy, money grabbing and useless!
1. Our fees are very transparent and are all listed inclusive of VAT on our application form which all tenants complete before making any commitment to a property at all. They have the option at that stage not to proceed any further. The application fee is £65 per person and very competitive with other agents. This is taken at the application and referencing stage. If an applicant is accepted as a tenant after successful referencing there is legal charge for the tenancy agreement which is £90 not £120. It is not an up front fee and only payable when a tenancy is agreed.
2. We have a duty to our landlord client to ensure that tenants are capable of meeting the monthly rental payment on an ongoing basis. Due to an impending change in the applicant’s personal circumstances, her income would drop and she was advised at the outset that a guarantor would be needed. The applicant’s employer took ten days to respond to a reference request and confirm the change in circumstances. The applicant’s partner (i.e. a co-applicant) is a student on a low income. As such the level of income was insufficient to meet the criteria required. The applicant was therefore asked to provide a guarantor.
The company moved offices late last year and unfortunately an old guarantee form was sent from an individual’s PC and not the server. We acknowledge the error in this case and accept responsibility for this. All old documents have been removed from PC’s. A forwarding facility is in any case in place, to ensure we receive all mail sent to our old offices.
3. The deposit is protected by the Tenancy Dispute Scheme. The assertion that Russells keep 15% is wholly inaccurate and totally untrue. If tenants leave a property in good order the whole deposit is returned, less any other agreed fees and charges. If a tenant leaves with significant dilapidations or damage which are identified after check out and discussed with the tenants, (with the tenants having the option to dispute and the matter to be referred to the TDS), an administration charge is made. This is clearly outlined on the application form. An administration charge only applies in the case of work being required at the end of the tenancy which is the tenant’s responsibility. It covers staff time in dealing with matters that are not the landlord’s responsibility. It is not 15% of the deposit and is a small charge based on the cost of the works (if any) required. If a tenant leaves the property as they find it with no damage or dilapidations over and above wear and tear there is no charge. An end of tenancy cleaning charge is made. This is a fixed cost. This fixed cost is well received by tenants as it enables them to budget, leave a property without having to worry about cleaning and also avoids disputes at the end of the tenancy in relation to cleaning costs. This cost is for a full commercial professional clean of the property and includes carpets. The costs are all clearly on the application form and fully transparent.
We operate a complaints handling procedure which is approved by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors of whom we are members and also belong to the Ombudsman for Lettings Scheme. If the applicant wishes to make a formal complaint the applicant is entitled to do this and any complaint will be fairly dealt with, rather than anonymously making unjustified and inaccurate postings. Alternatively, I would be pleased to discuss any problems face to face.
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