Crouch End estate agent ‘celebrating’ rising Muswell Hill rents during pandemic apologises

Reliable Homes took down the original video and its follow-up apology after a strong backlash. Pictu

Reliable Homes took down the original video and its follow-up apology after a strong backlash. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

A Crouch End estate agent has apologised after posting a Facebook video “celebrating” the “absolutely soaring” rental property prices in Muswell Hill.

In the video published last week, a staff member from Reliable Homes, based in the Broadway Parade, said his “heart goes out” to tenants who have struggled during the pandemic, but that the “silver lining in a very difficult year” is that Muswell Hill rents have risen, quoting an “absolutely enormous” 10% increase.

A spokesperson for Reliable Homes, which has taken the video down, told the Ham&High: “We apologise if it caused any upset, this was not our intention at all.”

Horney and Wood Green MP Catherine West said it was “saddening” to see a local estate agent “take pleasure” over rising rents, and Haringey Council’s housing lead called the video “incredibly disappointing”.

Ms West said: “Sadly this video demonstrates what we all know, rents in our area are unaffordable for so many local people, and it is saddening to see local estate agents taking pleasure in rents increasing so much when local people are often struggling to keep hold of their homes.

“I am pleased they have now apologised and taken it down. We need stable rents and more affordable homes, not landbanking and spiralling prices which force out the lowest paid local people.”

Reliable Homes took down the original video and its follow-up apology, and said it should not have been posted in the Crouch End Appreciation Society, a local Facebook group, after a strong backlash.

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Cllr Emine Ibrahim, Haringey Council’s housing lead, said: “It is incredibly disappointing that a local estate agent would celebrate the fact that the already astronomical rents in Muswell Hill are increasing during a global pandemic.

“The financial impact of coronavirus - including fact that the furlough scheme is due to end in October – has countless renters at risk of homelessness.”

Housing campaigner Paul Burnham called the video a “red flag” over the planning and housing industry.

He said: “What we need after lockdown are more really affordable homes and not profiteering by landlords and estate agents.”

Muswell Hill resident Hal Sinden called the video “smug” and said it “jeopardised” the character of the area while “capitalising” on the hardship of Covid-19.

Jakub Orna, Reliable Homes’ managing director, said the video was “reporting the facts” and had been “completely misunderstood”.

He said: “We do not dictate the rents, the market does, the same way the market dictates the price of gold. If rents have risen, it shows how desirable our areas are.

“We were in no way suggesting we have put existing tenants rents up and actually have worked tirelessly for free to help anyone in need during this pandemic.

“But, we do work for our clients ultimately, many of whom had to take major reductions to assist tenants. If new tenants wish to move into our neighbourhoods it is inevitable prices will increase as it is basic supply and demand.”

Mr Orna added: “Whilst we sympathise greatly with anyone in need and have done all we can to help, we too have massively struggled as our business was also locked down for months.”

Video transcript

“Just here to bring you some news from the rental market in MH.

“This is going to be great for any landlords with properties in Muswell Hill or even if you’re a buy to let investor, maybe you’re looking for your next project.

“As we know now is a good time to buy with the stamp duty cut and interest rates being at historic lows, so you’ll be very pleased to hear, in a bit of a strange year, and let’s be honest a lot of bad news, Muswell Hill rents are up by an enormous 10%.

“I can tell you as an agent on the front line, you know we’ve lost a lot of tenants who obviously are just not travelling to the capital anymore, we’ve lost tenants where maybe they’ve had job losses or some sort of issue there, which our heart goes out to them, but the good news is that the rents in our local neighbourhoods are absolutely soaring at the moment, so a least it’s a little bit of a silver lining in a very difficult year for us all.

“The average rent in Muswell Hill is £1,680 per month, just astronomical. Even Crouch End has had a great fantastic increase but nowhere near as high as Muzzy.

“So 81% are flats of the rental deals being done and the houses are getting a storming three £3,121 per calendar month. Slightly older demographic in MH, to be understanded (sic).

“We’ve got a lot better schools there, it’s a little bit of an older crowd. The average tenant age is 36 so a couple years on Crouch End, and yeah hopefully that’s a little bit of good news for you in a bit of a strange time, and we look forward to seeing you on the next one.”