Tenants’ union Acorn has pledged to continue targeting letting agents in the city until they stop encouraging 'bidding wars' to help landlords achieve higher rents.
Members launched a noisy protest outside a number of branches; some agents which had started talks with Acorn about signing the pledge were left alone, but others were visited by Acorn reps who said they would follow up requests and repeat the protest until the agencies agreed to end the practice.
“We’re trying to stop letting agents pitting tenants against each other to force up the price of rents, driving loads of people out of the city, out of their homes that they’ve been in for years, and breaking apart communities, and this is something that is going on all the time - it’s affecting loads of our members,” Acorn organiser Ewan Maclennan told the Bristol Post.
He explained that agents sometimes encouraged people to bid £50 or £100 higher to increase their chances of securing a property or gave out a formalised offer form to tenants.
“It’s almost part of the formal process for a lot of these letting agents,” added Maclennan.
Earlier this month, Bristol City Council acknowledged the prevalence of bidding wars and their negative effect for renters, particularly low-income households.
It passed a motion backing calls for new rent controls in Bristol and promised to publish an annual living rent index, showing what affordable rents would look like in the city. A publicly accessible list will also show all enforcement notices issued to landlords while a new regular renters’ forum would engage with private tenants.
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