A new service which will see people charged £30 to book property viewings has been described as “exploitation” by a tenants rights group.
ViewRabbit is a new property platform which will allow estate agents to charge prospective tenants and buyers £30 to arrange viewings.
‘Agents need ways of being paid’
The company claims it will help “serious movers” to guarantee viewings, but their launch has been met with criticism.
The income generated by agents using ViewRabbit to arrange bookings will go to one of three national charities for the first month they use the service, and booking fees will be reimbursed for successful buyers.
Michael Riley, founder of ViewRabbit, said: “We strongly believe that buyers, tenants, owners and agents can benefit from evolving how agents get paid. Agents provide a service to two separate sets of people for one transaction.
“In the UK, agents need ways of being paid for their services that can shift ever so slightly between the supply and demand side of the market, depending on market conditions.”
Riley, who claims to have earned more than £1m in commission as a hybrid estate agent, added: “This is just one way to facilitate this and allows serious movers to raise their hand above the crowd and gives agents a platform where they can offer a range of viewing options and benefits to the consumer.”
‘Exploitation, plain and simple’
The current high demand for rental properties has seen prices in parts of the country go up significantly, at a time when many tenants are still struggling as a result of the pandemic.
Poverty rates among households where at least one person is in work have increased in recent years, with experts highlighting the rising costs of housing as a major driver of this.
Campaigners say the precedent set by ViewRabbit and similar services could have detrimental impacts on tenants, by increasing costs and pricing out the most vulnerable.
Acorn, a community union which was set up to protect the rights of tenants, has criticised the service as “exploitation, plain and simple”.
A spokesperson for Acorn told NationalWorld: "Just when we thought we'd seen all the money grabbing tricks in the book from landlords and estate agents, this pops up.
“You couldn't come up with a parody that better illustrates the damage that these kind of organisations and practices do to people looking for housing.
“This is exploitation, plain and simple, and it will - as always - hurt the poorest and most vulnerable tenants the most.”