Activist groups say landlords are being pressured by their letting agents into increasing rents.
Generation Rent, led by Baroness Alicia Kennedy, and the London Renters Union have both spoken out in the Financial Times against letting agents, suggesting they are pushing landlord clients to increase rents so their fees, in turn, will rise.
Using what Generation Rent claims to be its own “exclusive” figures, the FT says that when tenants facing rent rises asked their landlords for an explanation, 17 per cent cited letting agent advice as the reason for raising the rent. This was according to a survey by Generation Rent - it says over 1,000 renters in England were consulted.
Only 11 per cent of landlords in the same survey cited mortgage costs as the reason for increasing rent.
The survey also found that a third of prospective tenants had been asked to attend what the FT calls ”mass” viewings with other renters, while a quarter were asked for multiple months’ rent in advance and a fifth had been told to offer higher rent to secure a home.
Dan Wilson Craw - Kennedy’s deputy at the Generation Rent group - is quoted as saying: “Letting agents are making life harder for tenants, making the whole process more stressful.”
Michael Deas, a co-ordinator for the London Renters Union, tells the FT: “Rents don’t just go up — they are inflated by . . . agents and the market reports they put out.”
No landlords or tenants behind the claims are named by Generation Rent or the LRU. However, agents quoted in the article refute the claims.
“Prices are going up because of tenants competing and making competing offers” says Greg Tsuman of London agency Martyn Gerard - he is president-elect of ARLA Propertymark and tells the FT that agents were often advising landlords to go for lower prices because they would be more sustainable in the long run.
Guy Gittins, chief executive of Foxtons, says: “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.“
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