Renters groups have blamed letting agents for encouraging private landlords to raise rents to unacceptable levels to help boost their revenues.
In a Generation Rent survey of more than 1,000 renters in England, when tenants facing rent rises asked their landlords for an explanation, 17% cited letting agent advice compared with 11% of landlords who cited 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.
Deputy director Dan Wilson Craw (pictured) tells the Financial Times that rent increases are, “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”.
Michael Deas, a co-ordinator for the London Renters Union, adds: “Rents don’t just go up — they are inflated by…agents and the market reports they put out.”
Lettings boss Greg Tsuman, president-elect of ARLA Propertymark, refutes the claims that agents’ behaviour has distorted the market and says prices are going up because of fierce competition for properties.
He adds that letting agents often advise landlords to go for lower prices as they would be more sustainable long-term.
“If everyone is fighting for the property, it’s stressful,” Guy Gittins, chief executive of estate agent Foxtons told the newspaper.
“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.”