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Should Rival Bids Be Banned? Activists demand change

A campaign group has protested outside letting agencies in Bristol, protesting against what they describe as “bidding wars” between rival tenants.

The group - Acorn, which describes itself as a union for tenants - is quoted in local media in the city as seeking to make Bristol ‘bid-free’ and has so far protested at four agencies which it claims conducts bidding wars. 

“We will be campaigning on this in earnest … taking action against the letting agents that continue this shocking practice and making sure that 2023 is the year that Bristol becomes the first ‘bid-free city” one activist has told the Bristol Post. 


He continues: “Rental bidding wars, which have quickly become commonplace in Bristol in recent years, see letting agents pitting prospective tenants against one another to force up the price of rent. This practice is driving many renters deeper into poverty, fuelling the cost of living crisis and breaking apart communities.

“The new campaign, Ban the Bids, draws attention to the broken renting system that exists in our city and calls on letting agents across Bristol to put an end to the bidding wars that have become a key part of that.

“Renters in our city are being hammered. Letting agents are cashing in on the housing crisis by playing renters off against each other to force up the price of rents. These ‘bidding wars’ are destroying our communities.”

Demand for rental property has far outstripped supply in Bristol, as in much of the country, for many months, although key rental market indices such as those from HomeLet and Goodlord have suggested a tail-off in the mismatch in the approach to Christmas.

And a new England-wide index from Midlands lettings agency Barrows and Forrester shows demand easing in much of the country.

Agency managing director James Forrester says: “Rental demand is down across all but four areas of England and the rising cost of living and surging energy prices will be playing a significant part in this decline.

“Tenants are fully aware that landlords are seeing their own expenses rise, not least mortgage payments, and are passing these increasing costs to their tenants. As such, renters are choosing to stay put at the moment with tenancy agreements that were signed before the current economic crisis instead of exposing themselves to a market where prices are likely to get higher and higher.

“As the cost of living crisis eases, whenever that might be, rental demand will certainly increase. But for now, tenants are staying put.”

  • Billy the Fish

    You can easily avoid a tenant bidding war by going down the best and final route in the scenario of more than one offer coming in at the same time. With only one 'best and final' round there is no back and forth, it is less stressful for agent and tenants as well as much more time efficient. Make it clear to the tenant they should only offer what they feel comfortable with, that there is obligation to change offer terms if they do not wish to, but others may - this way it is up to the tenant rather than you pushing an increase/earlier move in/longer term etc.
    Over the years I have found the highest bidder is not always the best option anyway, who it is can often be more important than how much it is when it comes to managing a 12 month tenancy.

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    Do any of these Acorn activists actually have useful employment? Is bidding really that prevalent? Usually there are factors which would persuade a landlord, or their agent, to favour one applicant over another. As for cashing in, they obviously have no idea how little a difference it makes to an agent’s income.

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    Or accept that after years of messing about with legislation the rental market is just responding. Why should agents carry out individual viewings when the tenants don’t pay anything towards the fees? After all the customer is now the landlord so the agent is trying to get the best deal for their customer. These organisations that are mostly funded by left wing sympathisers have no understanding of economics. Supply and demand will always continue. The more the authorities mess the worse it becomes

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Yet again, the ire of Acorn is directed at the wrong targets. Maybe one day they will learn that agents & landlords are not the problem- the (successive) government(s) and its failed housing policy (and the revolving door of ministers) is at fault. Remove bids? Properties will simply be listed at higher rents and then reduced until they find the right price point- yet again, pricing those most in need out of the market so they don't even get a chance to bid. Utter, self-sabotaging lunacy. How would this be policed or enforced? Would this mean a ban on auctions on the same promise?

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    Kris, These organisations are fronts for the left wing and are a form of job creation, for the left. Create a problem and make up a solution and charge people for it. Generated lots of jobs for a non existent problem.

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    Like our governments, they have no concept of 'the law of unintended consequences'.


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