One of the letting agents targeted last weekend by protesters in Haringey, London, has offered to meet them.
But Chris Bramham, director of Kings Group, said he defended his decision to lock the doors when the protesters arrived – as did four other agents.
He said: “We have a duty of care to members of the public visiting us, and to our own members of staff. The protesters arrived without notice, confrontational in a large highly-charged group and proceeded to aggressively stick their placards on our windows, post flyers, and try to enter as a group.
“People have a right to be in our office and carry on their business quietly and without interruption.
“However, I would be perfectly happy to sit down and talk to the protesters peacefully. I have no problem with that, but their demonstration was no way to go about gathering information.”
Bramham also said that in picking Kings, the protesters – who were demonstrating against high rents and claiming that agents were refusing to accept housing benefit tenants – had made a number of false assumptions.
“As it happens, we are one of the few agents that do accept housing benefit tenants – they represent a significant percentage of our business. But the protesters don’t seem to realise that this work is complex and can be difficult and time-consuming.
“For a start, there are often language difficulties, and a failure by some tenants to understand their responsibilities, which have to be explained and dealt with.
“It is also completely wrong to assume that it is agents who set the rent. It is the market that sets the rent, and the current market is all about the most incredible demand.
“If we as an agent were to tell a landlord who wanted a certain amount of rent that we would only market it for less, the landlord would simply go to another agent.
“Here in Haringey, as elsewhere, the market is fiercely competitive.”
For pictures of the demonstration, use the link below. It contains a further link with more pictures, showing the demonstrators outside a number of agents, including Kings.