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Activists blame letting agents for pushing up rents

Activist groups which previously focussed much of their fire on landlords are now attacking letting agents, accusing them of encouraging higher 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.  

  • James B

    Pretty sure generation rent make most of this stuff up as they know they are not challenged
    They have been caught before saying they have national figures but surveyed 20 people or something... tenants would be a lot better off without these groups

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    Yes James. However generation rent is an arm's length labour movement. It can lie it's head off and do the dirty work for Starmer. However no one is mentioning the elephant in the room, immigration!

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    Have they not listened to the news most landlords have mortgages which have increased significantly over the last few months and this would get passed on to the tenants as a rent increase to cover the landlords overheads not rocket science

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    Agents have a legal duty of care to provide advice. I have one office with a complaint to TPOS simply because the landlord wasn’t advised of the current market rent and wants compensation. We are not moral gatekeepers - we are agents for our clients.

    James B

    That's pretty desperate stuff from that landlord thankfully there isn't many like that around

  • Kristjan Byfield

    As always, letting agents and landlords aren’t the enemy- the government is. A single-minded agenda to shrink the PRS whilst failing to deliver housing at a suitable scale and in an affordable way to offer tenants a viable alternative. Supply shrinks (260K properties gone from PRS in the last 7 years & 29 properties a day migrating to short/holiday lets).

    What has also been quickly forgotten is the suppressed rents so many landlords and agents took over the pandemic. I don’t see these groups defending poor landlords when rents dropped by 30% yet they see fit to demonise them now.

    Whilst some agents are driving up rents, that is our job- to ensure our clients receive the best possible return on their investment. That said, in our general experience this year, it has been tenants offering way over asking, desperate to secure a home and stop the exhausting house hunt competition.

    It’s time for these organisations to grow up and start having tough conversations with central and local government and stop attacking Landlords and Tenants. Many of the changes they have campaigned for have resulted in the exodus, and with more changes to come in the form of the RRB, this will do further damage.

    However, they won’t listen to reason and dismiss warnings as self-interested profit-mongering. I’d argue that they are probably the greatest risk to tenants at the moment- winning column inches but costing tenants choice and driving up costs. Rents will climb further next year, mark my words, and the blame will lie solely woth them and DLUHC.


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