Controversial property bidding site expands

Over a third of US households representing almost 110 million people live in rented property.  Prices are increasing as mortgage rates rise, increasing demand for rentals.

Rentberry was launched last year, allowing landlords to set a preferred rent.  Much like eBay, prospective tenants then bid below the set figure to obtain the best ‘deal’.  During the bidding process landlords are able to view the bids and information held on their potential tenants, including their credit score.  In an attempt to prevent false bidding, which could drive up prices, bidders are required to submit personal information, such as their social security number and number of years in employment.

The site has attracted over 100,000 properties and over 50,000 users and is expanding across the United States, and is now due to start up in Australia.

While tenants’ rights lawyers have described the site as ‘callous’, chief executive Alex Lubinsky insists the system is fair.  He believes that tenants are better off when they are unaware of what other bidders are offering.

Rentberry will soon introduce a new feature which analyses local market data to help landlords set a ‘reasonable’ price.  It will also rate prospective tenants based on the information they have provided.

Mr Lubinsky said: “People say we create competition, but competition already exists”, arguing that the market itself suggests what is a fair price to pay.  He claims that, on average, rents were actually five per cent less than the landlord’s asking price and that Rentberry is 4.3 per cent lower than other rental platforms in the US.