Tenant group demand that letting agents ban ‘bidding wars’ for homes

Activist group Acorn and its members are demanding that Bristol becomes a ‘bid-free city’ as they attempt to stop the cost of renting spiralling out of control.

Angry renters took to their campaign to end the practice of ‘bidding wars’ directly to agents in Bristol on Saturday, with a noisy protest along the length of North Street from Ashton Gate to Bedminster.

The campaigners filled letting agency offices with activists calling for an end to so-called ‘bidding wars’, condemned by Bristol City Council, which last week pledged to start looking at ways to ban it.

Letting agents in Bristol are being urged by the campaign group to sign a pledge to ban ‘bidding wars’.

“We’re bringing people together here today, we’ve done it before and we’ll keep doing it, until this is a bid-free city in Bristol,” said Acorn organiser Ewan Maclennan.

“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,” he added.

Last week the council passed a motion calling for the end to bidding wars in Bristol, condemning the practice, and instructing their officers to look into how they can ban the practice of bidding wars in Bristol.

Maclennan continued: “All of that is really encouraging. There’s nothing concrete in there yet, but it’s a good sign for what might happen, and it’s backing up our campaign and the message that we’re sending out to letting agents.

“There’s a whole bunch of different ways that bidding wars actually go on. Sometimes it’s letting agents encouraging people to bid and saying ‘look, you know, there’s lots of people interested in this house, if you bid £50 or £100 higher, you’re more likely to get it’.



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  1. ResiMan

    Okay so how do they suggest it is settled when you have 8 prospective tenants all desperate to rent the same property? Perhaps an arm wrestling competition? Or maybe a rock, paper, scissors tournament?

    1. undercover agent

      All other systems are less efficient than the price system. First come, first served is lazy and fails to get the best tenants. Giving it to the tenant who cries or has the saddest back story also fails to get the best tenants.

      Choosing the tenants who will pay the most means the property goes to the family who genuinely needs it. The higher rents also encourage more builders and developers to repurpose housing to serve tenants, as builders, developers and landlords seek profits.

      Towns with rent controls force tenants to bribe agents (sometimes with sexual favours) just to secure a property.

      I think bidding for rent is the only fair and reasonable approach.

      but I suppose tenants arm-wrestling each other as per ResiMan’s suggestion is what Acorn want to see.


  2. KByfield04

    Sadly this highlights everything that is wrong with the likes of ACORN & Generation Rent. They continue to aim their fury at letting agents and landlords- we are not the problem. Government is where they need to direct their ire. They need to demand that things like S24 are revoked- probably the biggest reason for landlords to leave the market. Then they need to attack them over the appalling lack of supply, the revolving door of housing ministers and the complete absence of any sound strategy.

    The Conservatives are openly and intentionally targeting the PRS intentionally looking to shrink it with no strategy to meet the housing needs of those displaced by exiting landlords.

    It’s time they stopped going for the ‘easy targets’, grew up and developed sound strategies of their own.

    1. fluter

      I think the government’s strategy is clear regarding the PRS in the larger urban areas, replace small, private landlords with large corporate build-to-rent landlords. Unfortunately in smaller towns such as ours all that is happening is landlords are selling and the housing stock is not being replaced. totally agree with the points you make KByfield04

  3. jeremy1960

    Over the past month or so there has been much publicity over a certain energy drink pushed and promoted apparently by an “influencer” on all social media channels. As a result of this the demand outstripped the supply, as a result of that the product was being advertised at higher prices on auction sites by people who had seen the upcoming problem and had purchased quantities to resell. This, Mr Acorn is the basic economics of supply and demand yet I don’t see you protesting about this??

    What you need to do Mr Acorn is direct your anger at the very organisation that caused this problem, i.e. Government. Then what you need to do Mr Acorn, is look at why Government have taken the stance that they have against the PRS, what/who influenced them to introduce reams of unnecessary legislation, who supported crazy licensing schemes from local councils and boroughs all of which cost the suppliers (landlords) money to comply with. By now Mr Acorn you should be standing in front of a mirror looking at yourself, shelter and other such organisations because that, Mr Acorn is why the PRS is in such a state – YOU and your cronies caused this!

  4. northernlandlord

    Hard to see how Bristol Council will stop bidding wars as they are perfectly legal just like gazumping when buying a house. That this is happening with renting indicates how difficult it is becoming to find affordable rental property in some areas especially around major cities and I believe this problem will slowly spread to other areas as more and more landlords chuck in the towel or put up rents. You can be sure that whatever Bristol do will end up costing agents/landlords more which will be passed onto tenants. They and other local authorities could start their own programme of affordable house building to ease the situation but if they are like the Council around here emptying bins and fixing the roads is challenge enough for them, let alone building houses.

  5. A W

    This is an easy problem to solve… build more houses.

    Failing that, learn basic supply and demand economics.


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