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Do female tenants haggle less? And are letting agents sexist?

A tenant who describes herself as “a seasoned renter” says women may end up paying higher rents than men for similar properties because of the sexist attitudes of letting agents. 

Writing a blog on The Pool website, Eleanor Ross says she has experience of renting many properties in London but found herself annoyed to have possibly paid over the odds for for properties which men have rented for less. 

“Maybe women, out of a reluctance to haggle, are getting short-changed when they're renting” Ross writes.

She mentions another female tenant, Laura, who had this experience: “I went to look at a flat in Brixton and the male estate agent put a lot of pressure on me. Every time I asked a question about the boiler or a sensible question about draughts, he said ‘Oh you don’t need to worry about that, love’. He told me there’d be lots of people looking and I ended up putting an offer £50 above the monthly asking price.”

Ross says Laura then discovered, when she was celebrating her new flat, that a male friend mentioned he’d also had an offer accepted in Brixton two roads down but had haggled the price down by £100 a month. 

Ross says it is not simply a case of women being less confrontational and so being less willing to haggle - she cites examples of how (presumably male) letting agents act surprised when women put in lower offers on rental properties.

In one case she says the agent acted surprised, saying it was usually “the boyfriend” who argues the rent down.

Ross’ piece is here, and it concludes: “While being patronised by some agents certainly isn’t a new thing for women, it’s worth knowing haggling is acceptable. If you’re receiving thinly veiled sexism from an estate agent, then capitalise on any surprise that you’re trying to negotiate terms by turning up knowing your stuff. It might end up saving money while helping to break this damaging (and potentially expensive) perception that women don’t know what they’re talking about.”

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