A campaign group has been refocussed with the objective of making the government honour its Autumn Statement pledge to ban letting agents’ fees levied on tenants.
The campaign is run by Acorn, an organisation which in the past has led protests outside individual letting agency branches and has called for agents to be ‘rated’ by tenants.
Renters Rising, based in Bristol, has produced a video with a number of unsourced claims including one stating that half of the UK’s 11m private renters are in households with children, that tenants spend half their income on rent and are hit with “extortionate” (but unspecified) tenancy fees and that “two thirds of [privately rented] homes are damp and unhealthy.”
It also contends that a quarter of all private renters have faced eviction, and that eviction is now the UK’s biggest single cause of homelessness, and that (unspecified) complaints and the number of cases of evictions are rising.
The video claims “15,000 people have joined [Acorn] in the past two years” and says its staff and volunteer supporters are “training” tenants to build campaigns against slum landlords and political opponents.
The video then turns into a fund-raising effort, saying that by Christmas it wants to recruit “500 more donors” each giving a monthly sum of £8 – if achieved, that would be an extra £48,000 a year for the group.
Acorn, which says it started the Renters Rising campaign back in September but is now refocussing it to ensure the government honours it ban pledge, claims to have held or be holding events in Bristol, Newcastle, Reading, Sheffield, Oxford and Brighton “with more to be announced.”
On the campaign’s website it heralds the Conservative government’s announcement on banning letting agency fees against tenants and claims that “letting agent lobbyists ARLA are already fighting the plans with a £5m war chest.”
A spokesperson for the group, blogging on its website, says:
“The Association of Residential Letting Agents, the biggest letting agent lobby organisation in the country, quickly went into meltdown at the prospect of their members no longer being able to charge money for nothing. They are already starting to get their hustle on. When the government consult on this, they’ll fight tooth-and-nail.
“We know why letting agent fees are exploitative: letting agents exist to serve landlords, not tenants. And we know that they can stomach a ban; the industry’s 30 per cent profit margins mean that we won’t be seeing any letting agents going hungry and homeless anytime soon.
“This will come down to a classic fight between organised money and organised people. ARLA has turnover of around £5million per year. With less than a twentieth of that budget, Renters Rising can organise renters into a powerful, permanent renters union, and together we can build the collective strength to win this and many more fights ahead.”