Hi bob —
While Europe sees two of its hottest months on record and we continue to tip further
into the climatecrisis, companies such as British Gas have raked in nearly a billion
in profit. All that when we’re worrying about paying our energy bills.
And it is not just temperatures that have been climbing, across Scotland rents have
continued to skyrocket with new rents in Edinburgh and Glasgow having the top three
sharpest rent increases in the UK over the last year. Though the rent freeze has
been extended until March 2024, rents are already too high and we need proper
government action to bring them down.
With this as a backdrop, the need for organising to gain power in our communities is
clear. And in these last two months, members have been doing just that.
On Saturday, members in Govan and Ibrox launched the newest Living Rent branch!
At the branch launch, members voted in a new committee and celebrated their wins
from the last couple of months, among them…
Their win in the Fairley street block campaign against building factor James Gibb.
For years, residents in the building had been living with a broken buzzer system
causing deliveries to go missing and ambulance crews struggling to enter the building
in emergencies. But after an action outside the building and a powerful picket
outside James Gibb’s offices, members forced CEO of James Gibb to agree to
fix the broken buzzer within the next month.
On Saturday, members in Edinburgh dropped a banner down the side of Victoria Street,
protesting the lack of action on reducing short term lets in the city.The council has
delayed regulation since their guidance was declared unlawful in June, however with
400,000 tourists about to hit Edinburgh’s streets in August and the rental prices going
wild, we know we need serious action now!
Over in Lochend, members have been fighting for new kitchens. For years, tenants
were left with dated, broken kitchens that have been falling apart with only shoddy
temporary repairs in response to their complaints. Having been promised new
kitchens for a decade by the council, members took the fight to their offices.
Members are waiting to hear back from the council about their demands.
In Shawlands, members held two actions on consecutive days fighting back
against members Jen and Angus’ joint tenancy rent increases. Due to the rent
cap only applying to tenancies and not the property, any changes in tenancy
allow the landlord to hike up the rent beyond the 3% rent cap, even if most
tenants remain in the flat. This leads to stressful situations, with members
being forced out due to sky-high rent increases they can’t afford.
For instance, Jen received two rent increases this year. First in April, as the
landlord increased her rent by 3%. And the second when a flatmate moved
out, the landlord demanded an increase of 22% (to £795) due to the change
in tenancy. When Jen refused, the landlord lowered it to £725, an increase of
11.5% (still nearly four times the rent cap) whilst responding that the “cost of
living affects everyone”. Since then, Jen has been offered a 9% increase.
A whole 13% lower than their original offer.
For Angus, his landlord initially attempted to increase the rent from £750 up to £995
(33% increase) but lowered the increase to £900 (20%) after Living Rent got involved.
But 20% was still far too high. However after the action, the landlord conceded to a
10% increase, a massive 20% lower than their initial demands meaning Angus is
able to remain in his home!
In another member defence case, Partick members Sar and Laura fought back against
unlawful holding fees and pet deposits. After finding a flat, members Sar and Laura
were overjoyed and quickly paid £1,200 in a deposit and an unlawful holding fee to
secure the flat. However after they discovered that they were unable to keep pets,
they gave up the flat and requested their money back – only to be told a significant
portion would remain with the agency. But after getting Living Rent involved, the
members successfully reclaimed every penny.
Annual general meetings
In Glasgow, it has been a summer of branch annual general meetings. Following on
from Govanhill and Partick’s in late May and early June, Shawlands-Langside and
Dennistoun held busy, vibrant new meetings, electing committee members, voting
to join the city-wide mould campaign and celebrating their wins of the last year. To
get involved in your local branch, head along to your branch meeting on the first
Thursday of the first full week of the month. Dates and times can be found on t
he events page on our website.
And in Edinburgh, branches are gearing up for annual general meetings in Leith
and Gorgie Dalry, so check out the website for more details.
At the end of August, come join our next event for people of colour in Living Rent.
We know that all the problems we face in regards to our housing (high rents, landlord
harassment, lack of repairs, mould etc) are particularly exacerbated for women,
LGBTQIA+ people, people with disabilities, migrants and people of colour. Next
week, members will be meeting again to share stories and experiences and brainstorm
next steps. If you are a person of colour and want to get involved, register on
Finally, we’re excited to be launching our membership survey this month. The union
is committed to building an organisation that is strong, diverse and representative
of the communities that we organise in, and carrying out a regular membership
survey is a key tool in achieving this. The survey only takes a couple of minutes to
fill in, and the more members fill it in the better picture we will have of our union.
It is anonymised, so none of the data can be used to identify participants. All of the
data we collect will be used solely by the union to develop a better understanding
of our membership demographics.Do you have three minutes?
As we head into the last few weeks of summer and the beginning of autumn, join
membersin gearing up to fight their campaign against mould and damp in Wheatley
Homes in Glasgow or members in Edinburgh fighting the explosion of short term
lets in the city or our national efforts to bring in proper rent controls and better
rights for tenants. There is always more to do, come along to a branch meeting
and get involved.
Secretary of Living Rent
Living Rent · Office 617 , 12 South Bridge, Edinburgh EH11DD, United Kingdom
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