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Saving For a Space Ship

Uk 'Renters unions' take the battle to the landlords'

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UK rents don’t have to rocket – just look at Berlin



Housing can be done differently; it is being done differently elsewhere in Europe.

Britain’s corrupted housing system is the product of political choices that have lined the pockets of landlords at the expense of everyone else. From four in 10 right-to-buy properties being owned by private landlords to the decision not to build more social housing, every element of this system is set up to screw the average renter. In fact, the forthcoming rent hikes are expected partly as a response to the fact that properties are becoming too expensive to buy in the UK.

It doesn’t have to be like this. I recently joined the London Renters Union, which started life in Lewisham and Newham, and recently expanded its reach to my borough, Hackney. The union is in contact with Acorn, a renters’ union that began in Bristol and has set up branches in Brighton, Sheffield and elsewhere.

The London Renters Union, despite being in its nascent stages, has already forced some landlords to carry out much-needed repairs (one estate agent was ignoring a renter’s complaints about rat and cockroach infestations). It recently held its first public forum where members could meet, organise and debate their priorities.

The rhetoric of “rogue landlords” has always felt jarring, because it fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between landlords and renters. Renters aren’t paying through the nose for uninhabitable homes because of a few nasty landlords who aren’t playing by the rules: the problem is that those landlords have more power than the people who rent from them. If a renter gets a decent landlord, it’s luck, but it shouldn’t be: we should have a system that balances out the power so that landlords can’t behave badly.

Living in a secure, affordable and comfortable home is a basic right; it’s astonishing how many of us have accepted the denial of that right as normal. In London, where rent increases are at their highest, we all just accept it as a downside of living in the capital. But it’s not a downside: it’s an injustice – and as with all injustices, somebody is profiting from it.

This is why a renters’ union is so important. Instead of us all trying to fight rent increases individually, we need to come together to recognise that we are experiencing the same injustices. Britain’s landlords already collectivise: they have a body called the National Landlords Association (NLA), which proudly announces on its website that part of its work is lobbying the government. The NLA describes rent control, which exists here in Berlin, as “possibly one of the most catastrophic risks to the private rented sector”. Maybe part of the reason your rent is so expensive is because the NLA has been lobbying the government so that it doesn’t adopt policies that might make it cheaper...



Edited by Saving For a Space Ship

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48 minutes ago, dougless said:

Thanks for that.  It does seem that there is a push-back against landlording in general and these groups help.

Maybe they'll get organised enough to start building their own houses ?

Perhaps that really would terrify the landlords - self build ex renter groups (SPERG)  

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I'm a member of the bristol Acorn group, they have got some really great things done here and helped lots of people. They protested outside TSB regarding the clause in their but to let mortgages preventing people letting to tenants on benefits and by the end of the day had confirmation from TSB that the terms would be removed. 

I've seen them stop people being illegally evicted, force landlords to do repairs that are badly needed, and as you can imagine they give support and advice on lots of disputes for unfair deposit deductions and charges. 

Even in bristol alone there so many cases of people being completely done over by landlords and agents. I think they are a really good organisation and they actually  get things done so I'm glad they are getting some media coverage.

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  • 192 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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      • down 5% +
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      • Even
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      • up 5%

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