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Brighton Housing Union: G4Lets rent strike

G4Lets anti-deposit theft rent strike

For the past year and a half, we have organised on a regular basis with tenants being messed around by the student lettings agency G4Lets. This has included tenants who have had significant sums of money stolen from their deposit by G4Lets, as well as tenants living in uninhabitable accommodation that G4Lets have neglected to repair.

Housing Union: Holding deposits

Holding deposits

What are holding deposits?

Agencies usually charge what they often call ‘holding deposits’ in order for a property to be taken off the rental market. The tenant pays an amount of money, and in return, the agency stops advertising the property. A holding deposit cannot be any more than a total of one week's rent for the property. An agency should stop advertising a property once you've paid a holding deposit, and shouldn't take multiple holding deposits for a single property.

Brighton SolFed Housing Union: A Year of Mutual Aid and Direct Action Solidarity

Just over a year ago, Brighton Solidarity Federation started a Housing Union. Our experience living in Brighton was of rents rocketing up (18% average in 2015 compared to 4.9% nationwide), while conditions were getting worse. We wanted to find ways to stand up for ourselves and fight back. In this article, we look at the successes we've had, the lessons we've learned, and the knowledge we've acquired over this first year.

Brighton Solfed Housing Union: Harassment

Harassment

Harassment is illegal

If your landlord is harassing you, it’s potentially a criminal offence. Examples of harassment include:

Brighton Solfed Housing Union: rent increases

Increasing your rent

If your contract has a procedure for increasing rent then your landlord must follow it. In a fixed-term tenancy agreement (i.e. a six month or one year contract), your landlord can only put the rent up at the end of the fixed term, and you are allowed to try and negotiate the amount. You can reject the rent increase and your tenancy will continue at the original rent on a rolling, month-to-month contract, though this may mean that your landlord begins eviction proceedings against you.

Brighton Solfed Housing Union: Disrepair

Disrepair

In summary:

  • Your landlord is responsible for the structure and exterior of the house (including drains, gutters and external pipes)
  • Your landlord is responsible for the water, gas and electricity supply, as well as for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary facilities)
  • Your landlord is responsible for making sure that the heating and water supply are safe and working

Brighton Solfed Housing Union: Right to Rent

Right to Rent

In summary:

  • Hostels and refuges are exempt from right to rent checks
  • If your documents show that you are legally allowed to stay in the UK for a limited period of time, the landlord must allow the tenancy anyway even if the documents allow a stay in the UK that expires before the tenancy would end
  • Landlord’s may not do a follow up check if the documents you have shown do not indicate a legal time limit on your stay in the UK

Proud Cabaret Pays Worker after SolFed Get Involved!

Brighton Proud Cabaret have paid a worker over £1,500 in underpaid back wages after being delivered a demand letter by Brighton SolFed.

The worker had been told that they would be paid at a rate of £8.50 per hour, but was only paid £7.58 per hour until the new minimum wage was introduced in April 2018, when the hourly rate was increased to £7.83. The contract issued to the worker by Proud Cabaret did not contain any information on rates of pay, which of course is a legal requirement.

The worker repeatedly raised this issue to management with no success. Tired of being fobbed off they contacted SolFed and after we delivered a demand letter the bosses decided to pay up!

Youngs dispute: landlord initiates new eviction via the law firm Dean Wilson

The landlord in our ongoing dispute in support of a tenant, Patrick, whose house was allowed to fall into a serious state of disrepair over a number of years, has served a fresh section 21 eviction notice, after the first one failed in court in early June. In the intervening period, Patrick and Brighton Solidarity Federation attempted again to open a dialogue with the landlord, providing considerable evidence in support of Patrick’s claim for compensation for poor living conditions and work he has undertaken, as well as the possibility of a grant to help fund the much-needed repair works. However, the landlord has been unwilling to enter into negotiations toward a solution, and has instead initiated a second eviction process.

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