A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists
News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage)
archives of old posts
The last 100 posts, according
The First Few Lines of The Last 10 posts in:
First few lines of all posts of last 24 hours |
of past 30 days |
of 2002 |
of 2003 |
of 2004 |
of 2005 |
of 2006 |
of 2007 |
of 2008 |
of 2009 |
of 2010 |
of 2011 |
of 2012 |
of 2013 |
of 2014 |
of 2015 |
of 2016 |
of 2017 |
Syndication Of A-Infos - including
RDF - How to Syndicate A-Infos
Subscribe to the a-infos newsgroups
(en) freedomnews.org.uk Beating the letting agents - Analysis, Jul 19th
Tue, 24 Jul 2018 10:03:01 +0300
Brighton SolFed writes on lessons learned over the first year of its efforts to build up
an anarchist housing union. ---- After a string of successful cases largely against wage
theft in the hospitality sector, Brighton Solidarity Federation launched our housing union
in June 2017. Our experience in Brighton was of rents rocketing up, while conditions were
getting worse. Huge increases in student numbers led to ever more scumbag landlords and
letting agencies shoving more and more people in ever smaller spaces, and becoming
increasingly brazen in withholding deposits. Brighton and Hove is a city with an
incredibly transitory population, and this makes it ripe for the worst kinds of
exploitation. ---- We wanted to focus on our direct action approach, rather than a
legalistic model. While we made sure to inform tenants of such possibilities and
signposting where appropriate - for example in cases of deposit theft using the Deposit
Protection Scheme (DPS) - we were clear to explain why we don't pursue cases in this way.
With the DPS, landlords and agencies have three different schemes to choose from, so it is
not in their interests to consistently rule in favour of tenants. Moreover, agencies pay
staff for such administration, who have knowledge and experience of the regulations,
meaning the deck is stacked in their favour.
Direct action public campaigns also help to highlight that many of us share these
problems, and that our power lies in banding together to fight them. DPS procedures keep
problems private and help agencies to guard against the formation of solidarity and
support amongst their tenants.
And of course not all tenants have the evidence required to challenge a deposit deduction.
The landlord/tenant relationship is fundamentally exploitative, suggesting that someone
only has the right to a home if they line someone else's pockets. We think this is wrong,
so when even more money is taken from tenants via deposit deductions, our solidarity is
with tenants whether or not they have the types of ‘evidence' required by a DPS.
While deposit theft is one of main issues presented we have also been determined not to
constrain our actions to this. Where tenants have been forced to live in an unsanitary
shithole, and then had their deposit kept on spurious grounds, we have felt that just
trying to get the deposit back wasn't enough, and we should pursue compensation for the
terrible conditions they had been forced to live in.
In one case that we had in late summer 2017 the tenants had had to endure damp, mould and
a bug infestation. We supported them with a direct action campaign that resulted in them
receiving £3,900 in compensation, as well as the return of their deposit (£2,400), from
one of the most notorious student lettings agencies in the city.
Another thing we felt important was to not be constantly on the defensive and trying to
get back money after people had left the property, and so we have fought several cases
demanding repairs, basic amenities (in one case, a working cooker!) or for issues like
damp to be dealt with. We weren't content to just let these issues build up until people
were forced to leave.
From the start, we've sought to provide advice on rights, and help in composing demand
letters to landlords, even where people felt they were unwilling to engage in a direct
action dispute - we are regularly holding advice surgeries and drop in sessions.
It's been important to support people whether they are members or not - the conditions
that allow agents to rip us off affect the working class as a whole, and our politics mean
we'll fight against this. We stress that this is their case, and that they are in the
driving seat, but that we will offer advice, solidarity and support (so long as it doesn't
contradict our politics).
So far, this strategy has worked well with victories and several tenants joining us as a
result of our campaigns alongside them, and many more supporting campaigns other than
their own. We want to build our union so we can be an effective class fighting force, not
just as growth for its own sake, or to build our credentials for careers in the radical
Along the way we've encountered a number of themes - there are a significant layer of
exceptionally scummy agencies whose entire business model relies on ripping off tenants'
deposits and not providing even a basic level of service.
At a certain point, as campaigning continues and people become more aware of their basic
rights, things will come to a head. So far, some agencies have managed to just about
survive direct action campaigns, but at some point we don't think they will be able to
survive their tenants working together put a stop to their tricks and dodgy tactics. If an
agency can't survive without using these business practices, we're happy to see them collapse.
On the other hand, we've also remained aware that even the "good" agents are still
fundamentally surviving on exploiting people, and living off people's need for a home.
Even the best letting agent or landlord is a parasite, and where they are exploiting
tenants, we will fight them.
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
By, For, and About Anarchists
Send news reports to A-infos-en mailing list
A-Infos Information Center