housing

Landlady Makes Threats Instead of Owning Up: SolFed's Campaign Intensifies

Brighton lettings agency MTM is facing a growing campaign by a group of tenants organising with Brighton SolFed for compensation after they paid £34,320 in rent to live in damp (pictured) and infested accommodation for a year. Recently, the landlady made a series of threats against the tenants. These include informing their places of study about the dispute, and attempting to get them blacklisted by agencies in the city and “all landlord associations in the country”. Regarding the former threat, we have informed the landlady that the tenants' places of study are already aware of the issues these tenants faced and have been sympathetic toward the situation.

Brighton Solidarity Federation opens a dispute with MTM lettings agency

Brighton Solidarity Federation has started a dispute with MTM lettings on the Lewes road. A group of tenants have been organising with SolFed after they were rented a house with serious damp and mould problems, infestations, and poor furniture that the landlady had promised to replace.

The tenants were introduced to the landlady by a different letting agency in the city, which was intermittently involved in the tenancy for the first six months. Administration was then transferred to MTM. The first letting agency refunded the tenants their agency fees, totalling £1200, on Thursday 24th August, after a brief picket protesting against the agency for introducing the tenants to this poor-quality accommodation.  

‘When I do absolutely nothing it’s absolutely within your gift to slate me from here until next week’: SolFed & the Bobby Carver Campaign’s Meeting with Brighton Council

On 31st July, members of Brighton Solidarity Federation, along with Bobby Carver and members of his campaign, met with Brighton & Hove City Council’s Executive Director for Neighbourhoods, Communities & Housing, Larissa Reed. You can read more about how this meeting came about here.

Prior to the meeting, ourselves and the Bobby Carver Campaign had issued three clear public demands to the council, which were based on Bobby’s – and others' – experience of the council’s housing department. The demands were as follows:

1. An end to at-a-distance housing suitability assessments
2. That third-party groups are allowed to attend these assessments
3. That any assessments that had exceeded the 8-week deadline were carried out within two weeks of the meeting

Brighton Solfed Housing Union: Deposit Theft

Deposits

In summary:

  • Your landlord must protect your deposit within 30 days of receiving it
  • They must provide you with a certificate for the protection of your deposit, as well as with information about the scheme they have protected it in
  • You have the right to edit the inventory for the property that you are provided with at the start of your tenancy
  • Deposit deductions can only be made to return the property to the condition it was in when you moved in

Brighton Solfed Housing Union: Agency Fees

Agency Fees

In summary:

  • Agency fees should be included in advertisements of properties for rent
  • Charges for the inventory should be split equally between tenants and landlords
  • If there is a clause in your tenancy agreement that obliges you to have it professionally cleaned at the end of your tenancy, you can challenge your agency to remove it
  • Any particularly high or unusual charges should be highlighted to you before you sign your tenancy agreement

Does Brighton Council only care about PR?

UPDATE: since the publication of this article on the afternoon of Monday 10th July 2017, Larissa Reed, Executive Director for Neighbourhoods, Communities & Housing at Brighton council has been in touch to arrange a meeting with Brighton SolFed and the Bobby Carver campaign within the next two weeks. We look forward to hearing how the issues raised below are going to be addressed, and about the changes the council is going to put in place to ensure 'the safest homes possible' for everyone...

 

Agency fuckups: sometimes it's enough just to ask

A prospective tenant contacted Brighton SolFed after she was poorly treated by an agency. The list of grievances will be sadly familiar to anyone who has or does rent in Brighton. For example, after the agency had received the £840 fee for the four tenants moving into the house, they: changed the length of the agreement from twelve to eleven months; gave the tenants misleading information about insurance and tried to pressure them into more expensive agreements; made absurd requests for the paperwork required by their guarantor; added additional fees for this paperwork; forced expensive insurance schemes on international tenants; went back on a promise to fix up the bathroom; were generally unresponsive and misleading when they could be contacted, and moved the moving in date back whilst still expecting the tenants to pay rent from the first date.