A franchise lettings agency is reported to have agreed to stop potential tenants bidding against each other to secure rental properties.
The Bristol Live news website reports that the lettings director of CJ Hole - the biggest franchise operator in Bristol and one of The Property Franchise Group brands - made the move following what the website calls “direct action lobbying” by the Acorn activist group, which describes itself as a community union.
Earlier this year the Bristol activists threatened to take action against lettings agencies that allowed rival bids above asking rent - even though the practice is not illegal.
Bristol Live this week reports: “On Monday a large group of campaigners set off on a tour of CJ Hole branches, with a list of ten in their sights, starting in Kingswood and Downend, before moving into the city at Church Road and then at the original CJ Hole branch and the firm’s headquarters in Bishopston. At each one, the group chanted, carried placards and lobbied passers-by about their cause, while a delegation entered the offices and asked managers inside to sign the pledge to stop encouraging tenants to bid.”
The story alleges that at the head branch the doors had been locked with staff inside. Activists then stuck posters on the window, targeting the lettings director with ‘wanted’ posters and asking to meet with him.
A spokesperson for the agency told Bristol Live: “I can confirm that CJ Hole do not encourage the practice of bidding on properties, and once we were aware of the campaign and were able to sit down with the people from Acorn and go through what the pledge was all about, we were happy to sign that day. It’s not something we do.”
Acorn told the site that its members would be “ready to visit lettings agencies” to remind them of their pledges, and asked renters to inform on cases of rival bidding permitted by landlords or agencies.
And a spokesperson for the activist group is quoted as saying: “Any business that we know about that takes part in bidding wars can no doubt expect a visit from Acorn in the near future.”
You can see the Bristol Live story here.