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Avoid These Crooks - www.easylondonaccommodation.com

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I have rented at least a dozen apartments throughout Europe and never had a problem....until now. When I enquire about a property I get one of three responses - not available, not available but there are other properties, or it is available. I had enquired on on apartment after seeing it on www.easylondonaccommodation.com, but the reply didn't say anything other than we have an apartment for (they list the price). They didn't say it was a different one from what I was asking about. It was a 'bait and switch' tactic in my opinion.
So when I arrived in London and went to the apartment I was in shock. It was nothing like what I had seen. If I am in an apartment for a week I have to have an oven. This barely had a stove, just a small microwave and a two burner stove with a warning to use the exhaust fan or it will set off the smoke alarm. I returned to the local office, who claimed they were just the middlemen and couldn't do anything. We tried to call the 'emergency' number but only got voice mail and no call back. The person in the local office said to stay there until after the weekend (it was Friday, Dec 24) when someone can move us to another place (even though he had earlier said there are no other properties available - he was obviously just trying to get us out of there). I agreed and went back, but could not stay. Even if this were the apartment I had expected I could not stay there. You walk in and plaster is peeling from the ceiling; I already mentioned about the stove; it was warmer outside the apartment in the foyer than inside - even though there was a radiator, cold air just blew through the closed windows making the room uncomfortably cold; and finally, the toilet didn't work. I went back to the office and they tried to call (they said) and we should sit and wait for a reply. They were trying to stall us until we had no choice but to take the apartment. After about an hour it was obvious that nothing was going to be done so we left and got a hotel. The people at www.easylondonaccommodation.com never returned my calls or my emails, and of course refuse to return my deposit. They ruined our anniversary, our Christmas, as well as our entire vacation.

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    Update Jan 8, 2011

    The morning after I posted this I got an email from the woman with whom I had dealt. She said she had just gotten back and would look into my complaint (in my email to her which was also sent to two other recipients so I don’t know why one of them couldn’t reply). The link in the email from her showed the apartment I had expected, not the one I got. I replied to her with the same complaints in my first post. It is now two days later and still no further word from her. I will keep updating as things develop.
    I will admit that I was wrong about one thing. What looked like an oven was actually a microwave. It was built in about half way between the floor and the counter-top so appeared to be a conventional oven. I had never seen a microwave built in that low before.

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    As always, the devil is in the details. From their website:

    easylondonaccommodation.com does not act as an agent for the landlords/letting agents of the properties on the site and is therefore not responsible for the accuracy of information about properties provided by landlords/letting agent. We have neither inspected these properties, nor make any representation as to the accuracy of any property details provided on the site. We strongly advise you to inspect the property thoroughly to satisfy yourself of the accuracy of the statements put forward by the landlord before entering into any agreements.

    Their claim to be just the middleman is correct. Landlords pay about 20 pounds a month to advertise their properties and it's very buyer (or renter) beware.

    I would not rent a holiday apartment from this type of place and I'm sorry your trip suffered as a result. You might want to contact Trading Standards. I'm not sure how much help they could be but...and let easy london know that you're filing a complaint with TS.

    http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/advice/consumer-advice.cfm

    As for the two burners v. oven, it's not that surprising to see a short-term holiday let with just a two-burner cooktop and a microwave in the kitchenette, esp in a budget flat. FWIW, I've spent a month in a short-term apartment with just that and still did quite a bit of cooking (I made lots of risottos).

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    You did not rent anything from them. You simply found a flat on their website. No different than using newspaper want ads or craig's list. It is a listing site and nothing else.

    You rented from the flat's owner/representative. I have no idea what you expect to get from easylondonaccommodation.

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    Update 1 12-2011

    Today I was surprised when I received a partial refund of my deposit. It wasn't as much as I wanted, but is more than I had expected. It came to about 58% of the amount I had given them.

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    This one of the worst places I have ever stayed in my life. I have traveled all over, mostly in Latin America and I can assure you that not even in the days when I was younger and on an even tighter budget than I have now, have I EVER stayed in a place as crappy as this flat in Kilburn Park. If you you do not care about noise, filth and piled up garbage then this is the place for you! I realize that the staff at Easylondon cannot be held responsible for the actions or behavior of others who inhabit the flat. So, I guess this just a risk one takes when they rent from these folks. Be warned--you may end up with loud, careless and filthy flat mates and there will be little-to-nothing you can do about it and the management will also be unable to do anything. I do not think my standards were too high, I like to not be woken up at 3:00 am by slamming doors and flat-mates who feel the need to shout across the place to one another. I prefer to not have garbage piled so high in the kitchen that the smell hits you when you walk in the door. I prefer to not have to worry that my room will be infested by biting insects if I open the window for some fresh air but find that the window well is also a hap-hazard depositing ground for uncollected garbage and collection zone for stagnate water and mosquito or other insect breeding. I prefer to not have to hover over the toilet to pee because it is so filthy. If I had not joined a gym during my stay in London where I used their shower facilities, this would have been completely intolerable as the entire bathroom and kitchen zones were just awful. Granted, when I complained someone would be sent by the company to clean. That was great--for about a day or half a day until the other flatmates could filth it up again. I tried reasoning with the slobs but it did no good. The management tried to warn them--this did no good. So you can take your chances and perhaps your flatmates will be responsible adults who like to keep their common living quarters tidy and free of disease breeding agents. OR you could end up sharing a flat with slovenly folk. Your chance to take. I am filing a complaint also with the Consumerdirect as well. This was a waste of my precious funding for accomodations during my research trip. I ended up staying because I had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time and figured I would not be at the flat very much so I could make it work, which I did with 15-16 hour days outside the flat and I tried to sleep with earplugs but it did not work. I was on a tight budget and figured I could at least make breakfast at the flat and eat it in my room and pack a lunch to take to work and that would save me money. I am not sure it was worth it. I have not had a full night of uninterrupted sleep for almost 3 weeks and I am covered in some sort of strange insect bite that even the nurses at the Kilburn Park Medical Clinic could not identify. When you pay 50 pounds a night to stay somewhere I think on a very basic level it should be clean --if that means someone has to come and clean DAILY well then that needs to happen or the sloppy flatmates need be kicked out by the management. I think you should feel like if you want to sit in a common area and watch TV or eat a meal you can without being overwhelmed by the smell of rotting garbage. I think the bathroom should be clean and toilet paper available. When I arrived after traveling on the redeye from Dallas to this flat there was no toilet paper anywhere to be found in the flat and I had not one towel to clean up with. I did not pack a towel because I read in the description online that linens and towels would be provided. I was tired and physically exhausted and in a city I had no familiarity with so I did not feel as though I could just pack up and leave and go somewhere else. Besides, I foolishly paid in advance--do not do this. They had a deposit and a reservation for 3 weeks from me. I wish I had not paid the balance owed before I saw the place. Granted one of the managers did feel bad that I had no towels and some were sent over the next day. She mentioned that I should have had towels when I arrived. I bought toilet paper that evening and always kept it in my room so I could be sure I would have some when I needed it. I would advise potential clients to read the descriptions of these rentals very, very closely. The management did also offer to move me to a single/studio apartment but it would have been more money and I had already started work and did not think the disruption was worth the trouble of a move (maybe I should have paid more and moved)? I do know now that I probably should have stayed at a hotel in the center with breakfast service like the Crescent Hotel in Bloomsbury, I could have had a room with my own shower and a shared toilet for 9 pounds more per evening than I paid for this flat. Granted, I would not have had access to a kitchen...so there is a tradeoff...but I also would have been closer to my work at the Crescent. I will say this though, the flat is well located in that it is close to the Kilburn Park Underground and the Bakerloo line, the WiFi for the flat (which was included in the price) was a nice bonus (especially since I did not want to sit in the filthy living room and watch TV, so I just downloaded programs on iTunes and watched stuff in my own room). I do think that ultimately, this company is unconcerned about the condition of the property and the welfare of the client. This is a way to pull in some serious cash rather quickly by booking many people into a flat as possible (in my case there were up to 8 people in the flat at one time--that is 8 people queuing up for the bathroom). I am sure they will continue to profit and do well from this type of rental situation and no one can blame them for that. I will not make such a mistake again and I would like others to know the risks they will be taking.

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