Residents in Easton are due to march on lettings agents in the area this morning to protest against “rip-off tenancy fees and insecure rental contracts”.
Members of the newly launched Easton neighbourhood branch of Acorn say the BS5 area has twice the average number of privately rented homes in Bristol, but generates more than 25% of all complaints about privately rented homes in the city.
They add that with only two to six months of tenancy security and agent fees of up to £500 each time they move, many tenants are intimidated out of complaining or campaigning by the threat of eviction.
Residents are now “fed up” and have organised themselves to improve tenants’ rights and security. They have been canvassing residents to support the campaign and gained 500 signatures for a petition in just over a week to demand the following from estate agents:
An end to tenancy fees, which they say are “extortionate and unjustifiable”;
- The implementation of 12-month, fixed-term tenancy agreements over insecure rolling tenancies, which don’t benefit tenants, landlords or the wider community;
- Support of longer (three- or five-year) fixed-term tenancy agreements wherever possible.
“In Easton, fees are often £250-500 (some are as high as £900) and some agents charge new fees of around £30 every six months,” Acorn says.
“Not only that, but some letting agents encourage landlords to only sign contracts for 6 months to make it easier to evict tenants. It seems to be a case of ‘cough up or get out’.
“Only having housing security for six months is not a decent way to live. Across Europe, standard tenancies are years years long or even unlimited. It’s better for all of us if we have some stability.
“We want more stable communities; knowing your neighbours increases safety and well being, a less transient population takes more pride and invests more time in the place they live. Houses with longer-term tenants are generally looked after better and are less likely to provide eyesores or fall into dilapidation.”
The petition will be presented to local letting agents at today’s march, starting at Morgan and Sons on Stapleton Road at 11am. Agents will also be invited to explain to residents their policies at a public meeting on Thursday, July 3.