Bristol is gearing itself up for a protest march against a lettings agency which asked its landlord clients to consider increasing their rent.
A petition against one particular branch of C J Hole letting agency in Bristol - which has been signed by the manager of a cluster of offices in the same group - has now attracted over 11,500 supporters.
Letting Agent Today reported last week that the C J Hole branch in the suburb of Southville had written a letter to landlords headed: How Do You Get More Rent'
It included the sentences: "With rents increasing every week in Bristol, it is highly likely your property is due a rent increase. The demand from prospective tenants is far exceeding the number of properties available and we have never seen such a buoyant rental market."
Chris Hill, the respected managing director of five C J Hole sales and lettings offices in north, east and central Bristol, spoke out against the letter on Twitter.
He said on the social media service: "No office under my control sends these nor will ever. Paul Goverd is the man who runs and controls Southville office" and "I agree [with the petition] and have signed, my offices believe in good service as reason to use us, shame Southville have chosen this route".
Tomorrow's march is being organised by Acorn, a pressure group which has protested against letting agents in Bristol in the past, albeit with little effect.
Acorn started the petition on the 38degrees website. In encouraging people to sign, it states:
The letter [from C J Hole] shows how some estate agents and landlords are seeking to cynically profit from the housing crisis in Bristol at a time when inflation has declined to 0.3% and deflation is predicted. I think there is no justification for increasing rents at a time when prices are actually going down. In addition, real average earnings have fallen by eight per cent since 2008. Such predatory rental practices are an attack on low income people and threaten the most basic of rights - the security of a home to live in.
C J Hole has 19 branches in all, in Bristol and surrounding areas of Somerset and Gloucestershire.