When is a market rent not a market rent?
Well what a couple of weeks it’s been for Bristol letting agents. One of our competitors sent out a marketing letter to potential landlords, titled:
"Are you getting enough rent?"
In it they said
With rents increasing every week in Bristol, it is highly likely that your property is due a rent increase
They then proceeded to give examples rents “achieved” for properties in the area. Unfortunately direct mail is quite a blunt instrument and the leaflet landed on the doormat of quite a few disgruntled tenants. As you can imagine social media went into meltdown. More than 12,000 people signed an online petition calling on the agent in question to withdraw the letter and to stop unjust rent increases, a march was held to the agent’s offices in Southville, which made the first item on BBC Points West and the front page of the Evening Post. Every agent I have spoken to, received at least one abusive email calling us parasites and leaches or worse, so thanks for that Southville based letting agent!!
As an exercise in shooting yourself in the foot goes this is a doozy, and it begs the question WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? The premise of this letter seems to be that it’s all about the money and that landlords are ultimately greedy. Is that really true? Are landlords out to grab every last penny? Are we as agents increasing rents because we can and to hell with tenants?
Let me state straight away that I make no apology for looking to achieve a market rent for any property I am instructed to let. What I won’t do is overvalue property to get instructions or “take a punt” on an overly high rent because “Someone will pay it” In the last month we have walked away from 3 properties that we felt were overpriced. In two of those cases we were approached at a later date by the landlord asking us to take the property on at a realistic price. So who is over-inflating rents? The simple answer is that there is no simple answer. There are certainly unscrupulous landlords looking to extract the highest rents possible and there are agents willing to help them achieve this. However there are also tenants willing to collude in this. We have had tenants try and take property sight unseen, or jump the queue by just turning up at the property unannounced, before scheduled viewings are due to take place. But in the end all these shenanigans are caused by one major problem. Lack of property. Until the current imbalance of demand over supply is sorted out, rents will rise, tenants will try to beat the system and potential landlords will continue to get letters like the one sent by our friends in Southville, and all the signatures in the world on a petition won’t make a shred of difference