The F Word – a four part report on fairness in the residential lettings market – looks at: society; agents; landlords; and tenants; detailing how Hello Neighbour are redressing the balance and bringing fairness back into the sector.

For our first F word report, we look at the big picturehow unfair conditions in our society make renting a safe, affordable home far harder than it should be, for both landlords and tenants.

It’s fair to say we all deserve safe shelter – it’s a basic human need. But insecure and unpredictable housing can have a far-reaching negative impact on every aspect of our lives. From health and wellbeing to educational attainment, career prospects and crime1. And it really can’t get more unfair than that.

Right now tenants renting from private landlords are likely to spend an eye-watering third (or more) of their income on rent – the highest in history according to the Office for National Statistics2. It’s easy to blame ‘greedy landlords’ and our media often does. But on the flipside, landlords face ever-increasing mortgage interest rate rises. The Bank of England recently increased interest rates to 4.5%3 and this may well rise again. On top of that, we’re all getting stung by the cost of living crisis. With the cost of literally everything rising – from energy rates to food4 – tenants are struggling to keep up, but so are their landlords. Small businesses, including tradespeople, are being forced to charge more, which makes repairs and fittings to rented homes even more expensive and can leave landlords little choice but to
pass these costs on to their tenants as well.

On top of this, government regulations are making the process of becoming a landlord increasingly complicated – see last year’s government white paper5. Even causing leading property figures such as TV personality Phil Spencer to make a stand6.

And if private landlords are strangled in red tape, vilified by the press, and find it increasingly difficult to make a profit, why do it at all? This is a question lots of landlords are asking themselves, exacerbating the UK housing shortage even further. Research by Zoopla shows the average estate agent has 33% fewer homes for rent than before the pandemic. When demand outstrips supply, rents are pushed up even higher and we’re right back to where we started – tenants bearing the brunt of a lack of homes and a deeply flawed lettings market.

The F Word - Infographic - Hello-Neighbour

How can we make things fairer?

We think change is possible and it’s the responsibility of letting agents, like us to bring fairness back to lettings.

At Hello Neighbour we make letting a property significantly more affordable than traditional high street letting agents – saving our landlords up to 67% in fees, which are fixed and transparent; we don’t charge for renewals and we don’t markup maintenance and repair costs. We use technology to simplify the lettings process, cut through the red tape and make the experience as friction-free and easy as possible.

This is how we are encouraging more landlords to stay in the lettings market and provide much-needed housing, without passing higher costs on to their tenants. And in return, tenants can afford safe and secure homes within their communities, for as long as they need them.

Of course, it’s naive to think Hello Neighbour alone can create huge change in society. We can’t do much about the cost of living crisis or interest rates, but we are demonstrating that there is a fairer, more affordable way. More landlords are joining us every day, and we are hopeful more agencies will follow our lead.


1. A Fairer Private Rented Sector; Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, June 2022

2. Rents in the UK are rising at the highest rate for decades. Will they keep going up? Big Issue, 28 April 2023

3. New warning to landlords over further interest rate hikes; Landlord Today, 28 April 2023

4. Cost of living latest insights; Office for National Statistics, 3 May 2023

5. A Fairer Private Rented Sector; Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, June 2022  

6. Rental Reform - Phil Spencer demands radical simplification of regulations, May 2023