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Hackney renters take to the streets for real life Monopoly

On Saturday members of Hackney renters group Digs and their supporters gathered to challenge local letting agents for pushing up rents and generally making life miserable for local renters.

Gathering outside Hackney town hall, the group were introduced to a slimy letting agent (who you might recognise from our video…) who played host to a Monopoly game show where local renters were pitted against each other in an attempt to find somewhere affordable to live.Let Down Hackney

First stop of the day was Foxtons which, following criticism for hiring bouncers on our last day of action in April, took a less confrontational approach this time. One-by-one, players in the Monopoly game were knocked out because they were claiming housing benefit, didn’t earn enough to cover the sky-high rent, or couldn’t afford the extortionate fees.

Next stop was Felicity J Lord, where at least one member of the group had experienced being ripped-off in real life. Participants in the protest played a game of ‘Chance’, highlighting what a lottery the private rental market is.

The last stop was Homefinders, one of the many local letting agencies which refuse to let to people receiving housing benefit – despite the fact that many families can’t pay their rent without it. From there, the group headed to a nearby park to enjoy ice cream, send solidarity greetings to another housing action in south London, and start planning more action. Watch this space!

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7 thoughts on “Hackney renters take to the streets for real life Monopoly

  1. Pingback: The year in renting: rents go up, and tenants fight back | The Rent Book

  2. It sounds like your son has been hit with a retaliatory eviction, sadly quite common in the private rented sector and entirely legal. However, what isn’t legal is for your landlord to let people into your son’s flat without permission. Your landlord must give your son 24 hours notice and your son has the right to refuse entry to anyone including the landlord (providing he is on an assured shorthold tenancy which is most likely). It is entirely illegal to charge your son a viewing fee. And it’s entirely illegal to charge your son a cancellation fee.

    Has your son been served with a Section 21 notice requiring possession? This is crucial. If the landlord wants to remove your son from the property this must be served (and it must be valid). Otherwise there is no threat to your son’s right to remain in the property. The section 21 must give a minimum two months notice, and even once this expires your son has a legal right to remain in the property until your landlord gets an eviction order form the court. Please drop us an email so we can discuss this more: hello@hackneyrenters.org. Also, we’d be happy to meet with you and your son to discuss the situation and what course of action to take.

  3. My son’s landlord asked my son to leave his rooms because he asked the landlord to make repairs in the bathroom (leaking pipe). Landlord now saying my son asked to terminate tenancy and is showing people around my sons flat without prior notice or permission. He sent a text after showing people again today saying, “as you know you want to leave so until i find a replacement tenant you will be liable to the rent. I’ve been to the flat a few times and your room is a state. Should it not be presentable I’ll have no option but to charge you my viewing few.”
    He’s also stated that my son will have to pay cancellation few (even though he suggested my son move out).

    We know the deposit my son paid has not been put into deposit protection site. My son is now concerned, as landlord has been very abusive and threatening, that the landlord is either going to get violent or take some of my son’s property when he enters flat to show people around.

    Can anyone please give us some advice? This is very worrying!! Thank you

  4. The reason for it being ‘a mad world’ where people use businesses like Foxtons despite their bad rep is that the vast majority of landlords now want to go through letting agents, and although Foxtons are one of the worst, tenants find themselves between a rock and a hard place (i.e. bad letting agents and worse ones).

    We do encourage tenants to go directly with landlords, where they can find them. But they’re thin on the ground. And demand is so high that desperate tenants have no choice to to with agents who have a bad rep.

    Also, many tenants aren’t aware of their rights. They don’t know average letting agents fees. They don’t have average market prices. So it can be difficult for them to realise where and when they’re being ripped off.

  5. Homefinders no longer take people on housing benefit. They changed their policy recently, and this is partly why we targeted them. I agree, direct payments to tenants have made things more difficult in many ways. However, direct payments are fairly new in the private rented sector. And it’s predicted £35 billion pounds will be paid to private landlords via housing benefit between 2011 and 2014, which is no small sum. Caps to local housing allowance have failed to encourage landlords to bring down their rents – instead rents continue to spiral, even for properties that have been allowed to fall into a shocking state of disrepair.

  6. …. More…

    HOMEFINDERS

    It is outrageous you campaigned against Homefinders (Amhurst Road). You have not been fair to them. I did speak to them a few years ago and they did take on housing benefit tenants. Plus, they could take on property and offer them to housing associations. Homefinders have been fairly supportive of welfare tenants.

    You have to appreciate, some landlords specialised in housing benefit tenants and they would go to agents like Homefinders.

    It is news to me, Homefinders is not accepting housing benefit tenants. They must have good reasons.

    I suspect it is down to the last Labour Government deciding they screw landlords. So they paid the housing benefit into the tenants bank account. The tenant spent the money on other things. It is takes months to evict a tenant, as the council insists you take the tenant to court and then bailiffs. The tenant is liable for the legal costs (but it is hard to recover).

    In the past housing benefit would be paid into the letting agents bank account or the landlords. So there was little chance of arrears.

    To add insult to injury. YOu have cheeky people on the internet saying landlords are leeching of the housing benefit system, which seems grossly unfair, if the tenant has spend the money…. Why would a landlord consider taking on housing benefit, if this is what people are saying?

    Incidently, Homefinders are members of ARLA. So why don’t you complain to them about fees and not taking on housing benefit?. (ALRA wanted all letting agents to be licensed …). I would quite interested to hear ARLA;s response.

  7. I am a Landlord. I never want to do business with Foxtons, yet I don’t understand why so many tenants go to them?. There was a TV documentary which exposed their business practices. Yet instead of going bust after the TV documentary, they opened lots of new branches. It is a mad world!

    Some years ago, I invited Foxtons for a rental valuation (out of curiosity). They overvalued my property. I really did n’t like the idea that a potential tenant would be paying above market rent for my property. I believe in treating tenants fairly. It is also good business. Imagine, if they walk down the road and discover, they have been ripped off. If the tenant feel they have been cheated, then will have ill feelings towards the landlord. They will not look after my property or be good neighbours. It is ethical and good business – don’t you think?

    I also don’t do rent increases, except when re-letting. I don’t charge renewal fees.

    I don’t understand, why your group does n’t encourage tenants to deal with landlord directly??

    It is good for me, as I save commission and it is a win-win situation.

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