Union StUnion St

By Hannah Clugston

Right now, there is a mini revolution going on in the renting sector, and landlords are finally being held to account. Meet the Union behind the action.

Q. Why did you join ACORN?
I joined because there is limited protection for tenants and I feel ACORN  provides me with the protection I have never been able to find in the past. I have rented all my life and due to the current housing crisis, I’m likely to remain a renter for the foreseeable further. I want to restore some balance to the imbalance of power between tenants and landlords, but it’s not something I can do alone. However, by uniting tenants together through ACORN, we can improve things for tenants through direct action and campaigning for real change.

Q. What rights do renters have that they might not be aware of?
There’s two that spring to mind. Firstly, if your landlord hasn’t protected your deposit, they usually can’t evict you and you can take them to court and get compensation. The second right, is the right to join ACORN!

Q. One of the issues you cite is the fact landlords are detached from their renters – how to bridge this gap?
The private renting sector has become all about making profit over providing homes. Rather than seeing the person who requires a home, renters are viewed as second class citizens and are reduced to a balance on a spreadsheet. Housing is a basic human need, it should never have been allowed to become a profit making scam where tenants are allowed to be exploited in order for landlords to make as much profit as possible. The private renting sector is badly in need of regulation, ACORN brings tenant voices together and gives us a platform to be heard so that we can work to win the rights we deserve.

Q. If I am a renter reading this and I am having issues, how can ACORN help me?
If you are having issues we have a Tenant Support Group on Facebook that you can join and ask for advice. If the issue you have requires action and you agree to it, we can mobilise to take direct action on your behalf and we can provide solidarity to support you. We know first-hand how these issues affect your wellbeing and there is power in a union.

Q. You recently appeared on the BBC – what sort of progress would you like to see come from the national media coverage?
I’d like more people to join ACORN so we can work together to bring renting in-line with the 21st century. This is a housing crisis for tenants, not landlords. We are often told “people should do more for themselves”, so let’s do more for ourselves by standing up for our basic right to an affordable, fit and proper home!

If you’d like to join ACORN, you can do so at acorntheunion.org.uk. Once a week, ACORN meet at Union St to plan campaigns. If you need a spot to meet to plan social action, contact matt@union-st.org

About Hannah
5 Minutes with… Maryam Wright of ACORN