Rentberry, a controversial American home rental bidding site, is set to launch in Australia amid fears it will increase already-inflated prices for renters.
The site, which launched in the US in 2016, allows tenants to bid against one another to secure a rental property and will launch in Sydney within the next few months with plans to launch in Melbourne further down the track.
The CEO of Rentberry, Alex Lubinsky, said that after interviewing tenants and landlords across the U.S. it became apparent that both parties wanted increased flexibility and transparency within the rental market. He told PPW that Rentberry increases the chance for renters to save money.
"Tenants invite landlords to post properties in order to submit applications via Rentberry because they want to negotiate and get some sort of discount or better deal from landlords (be it hot or slow market)," he says.
Lubinsky suggests that a way this might work is if a potential tenant offers the rental price a landlord requests, but asks for a large discount in the security desposit, which is where the flexibility comes in.
"There are two components to the site: rental price and security deposit," Lubinsky explains. "Both of them can go down and this is exactly what happens when tenants rent properties via our platform – we had managed to save on average 5,1% to tenants in the US in only 9 months since the launch," he told PPW.
Tenants Union of Victoria policy officer Yaelle Caspi said rental bidding would further inflate the market in an environment that is already competitive.
“With so many tenants desperate for a home, it is likely that tenants will offer more than they can afford in an attempt to get ahead,” Caspi told Domain.com.
“Rental bidding privileges tenants with more to spend and makes it harder for low-income tenants to compete for properties. This is particularly concerning at the lower end of the market where affordable housing is already so scarce.”
Lubinsky told PPW he didn't think the platform would drive up the prices of rent in Australia.