Campaigners visit Easton estate agents to protest against “unfair” tenancy fees

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A group of campaigners marched their way around estate agents in Easton on Friday to protest against “unfair” tenancy fees and rolling monthly contracts.

Members of the newly launched Easton neighbourhood branch of ACORN, a community social justice organisation in Bristol, have been canvassing residents to support the campaign and gained 500 signatures in just over a week.

The BS5 area has twice the average number of privately rented homes in Bristol, and generates more than 25 per cent of all complaints about privately rented homes in the city.

ACORN say that most rentals in the area offer only two to six months security and “rip-off” letting agent fees of up to £500 each time they move, leaving many tenants feeling “intimidated” out of complaining or campaigning by the threat of eviction.

The group is now campaigning for an end to tenancy fees, the implementation of 12 month fixed-term tenancy agreements over rolling tenancies and support of longer fixed-term tenancy agreements wherever possible.

The aim of Friday’s March was to encourage estate agents in the Easton area to work with ACORN to achieve those goals.

Agents were also invited to “explain themselves” to residents at a public meeting on Thursday July 3. More than 100 people have already registered to attend the meeting and two letting agents have already agreed to come.

Read more at http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Campaigners-visit-Easton-estate-agents-protest/story-21277964-detail/story.html#wg4V2SLBuGjgLHP9.99

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Easton Tenants to March Against “Rip-Off” Letting Agents

Easton tenants to march against ‘rip-off’ letting agents

Residents say they are “fed up” and have organised themselves to improve tenants’ rights and security, by marching on agents offices this morning

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.

http://www.bristol247.com/2014/06/20/easton-tenants-march-rip-letting-agents-35812/

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ACORN Bristol’s First Action

ACORN Bristol had their first action today. We marched to various estate agents to have the members deliver a letter with the campaign demands (no more tenancy fees and rolling monthly contracts) and inviting agents to a meeting on the 3rd of July. ACORN Bristol is definitely buzzing and today three different media groups came out (including the radio that did some interviews with our ACORN members).

 

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ACORN Bristol Begins!

After 7 hours with our first organizing committee introduction with leadership and organizer training workshop at the Easton Community Centre in Bristol, it’s fair to say that we’re on our way and off to a great start. People were both serious and excited, and hunkered down to the tasks before them with another meeting in two weeks as the organizing committee membership expands. The first 10 members have now joined at 5 pounds per month and we’re on our way.

The day involved a deep discussion of the ACORN Model and how it might work in Easton as well as the chance to practice doorknocking and spend serious time doing some planning of potential issues in the neighborhood. Given the level of tenancy in Easton, not surprisingly one group worked on how they would construct a campaign to limit “letting” (leasing) agency fees from 150 pounds to get a flat and the other sketched out a campaign to deal with mold and health hazards in units where landlords were not making repairs and the dampness was causing asthma and respiratory problems. Very exciting stuff.

Easton has about 13000 people and is a polyglot area, once largely white working class, but now also Somalian, Indian, Pakistani, Afro-Caribbean, and more. Much more!

Pictures can speak thousands of words.

Here comes ACORN Bristol!

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