A HAMPSHIRE youth homelessness charity is warning that rental bidding is pricing young people out of the rental market.

Youth homelessness charity Step by Step has highlighted a shortage of rental properties which has led to potential tenants having to bid on places, with some having to offer landlords six months’ rent in advance to secure a place to live.

In recent years, the government has introduced a raft of legislation to put more responsibility and onus on landlords. While this is welcome news for renters, it has led to many landlords pulling out of the buy-to-let market. This exodus has been exacerbated by the recent challenges of Covid, as well as booming house prices that make selling up more attractive than ever.

A shortage of rental properties means that there is fierce competition for the few places available, and many landlords are taking advantage of this by inviting bids to rent their properties. In some cases, potential tenants are asked to complete a form explaining to the landlord why they should be given the place over rival applicants.

Step by Step supports hundreds of young people facing homelessness each year and is concerned that these bidding wars are yet another hurdle to be overcome.

Sarah Muckart, senior placement co-ordinator, said: “As the need to bid for a property becomes more commonplace, the likelihood of a young person securing their own property declines.

“Young people who have faced challenging upbringings and experienced homelessness will be at an immediate disadvantage.”

SEE ALSO: Homeless charity criticises Government over proposed fines for beggars

Traditionally, landlords have let a property on a first-come-first-served basis. As long as a potential tenant can pay the deposit and passes reference and credit checks, the place is theirs. This meant that a young person was in the same running as everyone else. However, there is nothing in law to say landlords have to adhere to this principal, and in practice they are free to use their own criteria when choosing a tenant.

This has led to landlords asking potential tenants to write an application, explaining who they are, their background, and the amount they are willing to bid. Landlords then make their decision based on who can pay more or who looks better on paper. Applicants are often stumped by those offering to pay up to 25 per cent more rent, and in some cases paying six months’ rent upfront. Very few young people can compete with that.

Step by Step believse the situation can be remedied by a change in the law.

Kelly Headen, supported lodgings manager, said: “We must push for rental bidding to be banned in the UK, as is the case in New Zealand.

“We need to acknowledge the increased demand and the reduced supply in rental properties post Covid and put in effective regulated measures to enable access to all.”

In New Zealand, an recent change in tenancy laws states that rental properties cannot be advertised without a rental price listed, and landlords cannot invite or encourage tenants to bid on the rental.

A similar change in UK tenancy law would level the playing field for young people struggling to find a place to live, says the charity.

Message from the editor

Thank you for reading this story. We really appreciate your support.

Please help us to continue bringing you all the trusted news from your area by sharing this story or by following our Facebook page.