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Housing

Renters to hold protests across England this weekend over ‘broken system’

Rent union ACORN and campaign group Social Housing Action Campaign are both holding rallies on Saturday to protest against rising rents, housing conditions and evictions

Hundreds of people will hit the streets across England on Saturday in a rent protest over the country’s “broken” rental system.

Rent union ACORN will hold rallies in London, Sheffield, Brighton, Walsall, Leeds and Newcastle calling on MPs to take note of renters’ concerns over costs, security and living conditions ahead of the upcoming Renters’ Reform Bill.

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The long-delayed reforms, which were first announced in 2019, are intended to scrap no-fault evictions to prevent landlords from evicting tenants without giving a reason as well as exploring a national landlords’ register.

The Westminster government has said the white paper will be published in the next few weeks. 

“From families facing eviction, to those forced to live in unsafe housing, to people shut out of the housing market and pushed away from their communities by runaway rents, private renting in England is broken. Renters urgently need and deserve better,” said Anny Cullum, ACORN’s policy and research officer.

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ACORN has been among 20 housing organisations in the Renters Reform Coalition – also including Shelter, Citizens’ Advice and Crisis – calling for no-fault evictions to be axed.

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The group also urged ministers to introduce open-ended tenancies and a limit of one-month rent that can be asked for by landlords or agents in advance. 

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Supporters will call for MPs to apply the pressure in Central London on Saturday.

Campaigners will also be heading to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities south-west London headquarters on the same day to protest against rent and service charge rises for social housing residents.

The Social Housing Action Campaign (SHAC) will be holding the ‘End the Rent and Service Charge Rip-Off’ at noon on Saturday alongside members of the Unite Housing Workers Branch, Homes for All, Defend Council Housing and other grassroot groups.

The majority of social housing providers increased rent by 4.1 per cent from the start of April even though residents are facing rising bills and an inflated cost of living. 

SHAC previously warned a quarter of the respondents to their survey could not afford the rent rises and now the group is taking action in the Whitehall protest.

SHAC’s Suz Muna told The Big Issue that housing associations’ profits should take a hit rather than residents’ pockets.

“We’ve had tenants and residents contacting us in complete despair, not knowing how they are going to meet these huge cost rises. Even 4.1 per cent, which seems to be the minimum rent rise, is a lot of money considering the thousands paid in rents every year,” Muna said.

“We have to ask what the end game is. Do housing associations really want to be responsible for mass evictions? It shows just how far the housing association sector has travelled from its founding social purpose.”

“It underscores the need for a review and radical reform of the broken UK housing model that now only serves landlords and their city investors. People need to regain the right to low cost housing without stigma or being forced to accept sub-standard accommodation.”

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