21 Dec 2022
Activist groups that represent tenants have accused letting agents of boosting their revenues by pushing up rents, making life harder for tenants in the process.
Rents on new tenancies have soared in recent month on the back of the widening supply-demand imbalance in the market as renters complete for limited housing stock.
Generation Rent and the London Renters Union have suggested that the frenzied market conditions were being fanned by landlords and their letting agents.
When tenants facing rent increases asked their landlords for an explanation, 17% cited letting agent advice as the reason for raising the rent, according to a survey of more than 1,000 renters in England conducted by Generation Rent.
That compared with 11% of landlords citing mortgage costs as the reason for increasing rent.
The survey found that a third of prospective tenants had been asked to attend mass viewings with other renters, a quarter were asked for multiple months’ rent in advance and a fifth had been told to bid up rents to secure a home.
Dan Wilson Craw, deputy director of Generation Rent, said rent increases were “symptoms of a market where there is a shortage of homes, but letting agents are making life harder for tenants, making the whole process more stressful” with competitive bidding processes and mass viewings.
Agents refuted the claims that their behaviour had distorted the market.
Greg Tsuman, letting director at Martyn Gerard and president-elect of trade body the Association of Residential Letting Agents, told the FT: “Prices are going up because of tenants competing and making competing offers.”
Guy Gittins, chief executive of Foxtons, added: “People want to see these properties. If everyone is fighting for the property, it’s stressful. Guess what, it’s stressful for the agent too, it’s not an environment we welcome.”
“We sympathise with the renters of London; it is a supply and demand dynamic that is not healthy,” said Gittins, adding that Foxtons was registering 18,000 tenants per week in the peak summer months.”
Michael Deas, a co-ordinator for the London Renters Union, said: “Rents don’t just go up — they are inflated by… agents and the market reports they put out.”
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