A new smartphone app for bidding auctions on rental properties has been slammed by an Illawarra tenancy advocate, who said it would drive prices up and make it harder for less wealthy people to find a place to live.
Until now bidding auctions have been conducted on the down-low but the app, called Rentberry, would allow landlords to facilitate competing tenants as they seek to outbid each other.
But this would hurt those with less money, Illawarra Tenancy Service team leader Warren Wheeler said.
“There’s a good reason for it [rent bidding] to be outlawed in Queensland: because it is a bad idea for tenants,” he said.
Turning what is a bad idea into a fancy app doesn’t turn it into any better of an ideaWarren Wheeler
“It might be a good idea for individual tenants – the one that can offer to pay more. But for tenants as a group, it’s not a good idea. Essentially it pushes people who don’t have access to large amounts of cash, down to the bottom of what is already a very competitive market.”
Mr Wheeler said tenancy groups had been hearing for years that rent bidding was happening in NSW.
“We’ve been arguing for a long time that it should be outlawed,” he said. “Turning what is a bad idea into a fancy app doesn’t turn it into any better of an idea.
“It’s still going to further disadvantage those who already find it difficult enough to get a property.”
But Rentberry founder Alex Lubinsky said the real purpose was “high quality people, not high-paying people”.
“The huge advantage of Rentberry is having transparency and ability to get discounts,” Mr Lubinsky said.
“Moreover, landlords are all about renting to high quality people not high paying people. So for them it is most important is to have the largest amount of applicants (even though many might offer less money) in order to select the best qualified tenant … our platform encourages people to submit applications with lower offers because they might be a better fit tenants for the landlord.”
He said the app could help “remove the hate between tenants and landlords”.
“We do expect to save tenants money on rentals be it because of excellent credit reports, recommendations or just because landlord liked the tenant much better,” Mr Lubinsky said.
“People who are more qualified should be able to save more on rentals.”