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Protests outside letting agency offices planned this weekend

Activists say they are planning protests outside lettings agency offices this weekend.

Activists in the London Renters Union and Greater Manchester Tenants Union say they will stage the protests on Saturday to demand an immediate freeze on private rents. 

The London activists claim some of their group have faced an average rent increase of £3,378 per year - which it says is 20.5 per cent - with many facing rent increases “upwards of 50 per cent.”


In a statement the activists say: “Rent gouging currently dwarfs inflation, which hit a 40-year high of 9.6 per cent last month” and it cites an unsourced Shelter report that 1m renters are receiving a rent increase each month. 

The activists cite Foxtons enjoying a 25 per cent increased in revenues “off the back of skyrocketing rents” and points out that former chief executive Nic Budden “was handed £1.6m in pay.” 

They also claim that many landlords are exploiting the cost of living crisis to hike rents well above incomes. 

An activist quoted by the two groups - going by the single name of Connor - says: “My partner and I were forced out of our home when our landlord tried to put up the rent by £8,000 per year. Finding a new place was a real struggle and in the end we were forced to move in somewhere £200 more per month than before. I now have to work two jobs to make ends meet. We’re taking action because the government is doing nothing to protect renters. Instead of prioritising the profits of landlords and estate agents, the government must step in to protect renters with a rent freeze like in Scotland.”

Alva Gotby, a London Rental Union member, adds: “My housemates and I faced a £300 monthly increase, and the landlord refused to negotiate with us. When we asked why the rent was increasing so much, he just shrugged. I’m unemployed and one of my housemates receives disability benefits, so we can’t move somewhere else because no letting agent would rent to us. We had no choice but to accept the increase. We felt really powerless, like our landlord controls our life. 

“Talking to other people, it’s clear that estate agents are deliberately causing these rent hikes by encouraging landlords to raise rents and encouraging bidding wars. A rent freeze would relieve pressure on millions of people this winter so why won’t the government put one in place?” 

  • Barry X

    It's a shame, but no surprise, that these silly people, i.e. the "Activists in the London Renters Union and Greater Manchester Tenants Union", lap-up and completely believe all the propaganda and gross misinformation fed to them by the Government and reinforced as well as bolstered by the likes of Shelter, the BBC and others.

    If only they knew more about it and understood how utterly self-defeating measures such as rent controls actually are in the long run... rent controls and laws turning all tenancies into "protected tenancies" (that made all tenants "sitting tenants") were brought in through a succession of measures under various socialist/labour governments in the during the 1960s and 1970s which ultimately resulted in the complete stagnation of the ‘private residential market’ by making the majority of tenants “sitting tenants” who could not ordinarily be evicted, whose protected tenancies could be passed on to their children, and whose rent was controlled not by the landlord and market forces but by an official rent officer usually setting rents unrealistically low which often led to loses instead of modest profits for the landlord.

    Rather than improving the lives and prospects of tenants as expected this generally ended up by having a very detrimental effect on them; it blighted the rental properties so that their values were dramatically reduced. That took away their landlord’s incentive to retain the tenants and any interest in cosmetically maintaining or improving the properties as they were hoping the tenants would one day move out so they could finally redecorate and modernise the property, then sell it at full market value. That way they could recover some (but rarely all) of their capital then escape these (for them) draconian laws.

    Furthermore, few owners of properties had an interest in, or desire to, offer their properties to new or prospective tenants. As a result the existing tenants usually had no choice but to stay where they were, even if the property had become unsuitable for them - for example because they needed to relocate for work, or they desired more space, or their earnings had improved so they could theoretically afford a better property if only one were available for them to move to, or if the property had become increasingly “shabby” “outdated” and depressing for them to live in.

    By simple analogy (and perhaps not a very good one, so my apologies), imagine that you couldn't go shopping for good quality or attractive groceries, or other goods, because retailers were not allowed to set the price of them (which still had to be competitive for them to succeed and sell anything) because prices were instead controlled by an official “Price Officer” who generally set them well below what would be profitable for the retailer and so instead of working hard only to make a loss (or insufficient profit) they did not offer those goods at all!

    By the way, its sometimes still possible to buy one or two of the few remaining properties that still have sitting tenants hanging on (or stuck) due to those absurd old laws. They'll only be available privately or through auctions because its impossible to sell them in the normal way, and they'll be worth around 1/3 of their normal open market value without siting tenants (which are very different indeed from tenants who can potentially be evicted by a s.21 while we still have them). Think about that... your property/properties will plunge in value by up to 70% just by having someone living in it whose tenancy and rent has become "protected"!!!

    Anyhow, let them protest all they like - I'm sure it will make them all feel very important and satisfied that they've done their bit for the world - and then over the next few years gradually find that they are stuck in crummy properties, have landlords with absolutely no interest in looking after them or keeping them happy - let alone pandering to their every whim and giving them anything for free - and who can't wait for them to move out (if only they would) so they can sell up - resulting in even less availability and choice for tenants...

    So who exactly was it that benefited from rent controls? Probably nobody in the end!

    By the way, the only reason we even have BTL mortgages and a private rental market these days (at least for now) is because of the introduction in 1988 of a new kind of tenancy, i.e. the AST in which there is a s.21 so the tenants under that type of contract are not sitting tenants, and also because the landlord is allowed to set and increase the rent her/himself. Sadly we are heading back to the bad-old days when none of that was possible and so the market ground to a fairly disastrous halt.

  • icon

    An agent has a duty of care to the landlord to review rents. It is the landlords decision whether to do so. We have experienced one landlord claiming compensation as he believes we under rented the property, and another asked what the current market rent was and promptly dis-instructed us when we told him is was £150 more.

    Matthew Payne

    Its happening all over the sector. A client of mine works in the social housing space and as the LHA rates are now sometimes only 50% of the market rent, landlords are asking councils for new incentive fees on renewal or they will simply replace with private tenants at a market rent.

  • Matthew Payne

    What next, protest outside your accountants because they advise you taxes have gone up this year?


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