Defeat of Santander shows renters are a force to be reckoned with

Renters across the UK fought and defeated Santander who until last month were demanding landlords charge maximum rent. Their mortgage contracts stated:

You will promptly take all steps which it is open to you to take under the lease to ensure that the review takes place and leads to the maximum increase in the rent which can reasonably be achieved

Renter groups decided we weren’t going to take this lying down. A national day of action was called and Digs signed up. Just as we were busy painting our banners and buying new batteries for our megaphone, in preparation for a noisy action outside Santander on Hackney Narrow Way, the billionaire bank announced it was scrapping their destructive rent rise clause.

They said:

“We have never invoked the clause and having reviewed the wording, we are in the process of removing it from our terms and conditions.”

This is another victory for renters and a sign that our collective power is becoming a force to be reckoned with.

The government and charities like Shelter would have us believe that renting sucks because of a minority of devilish rogue landlords. Simply weed out the naughty ones and hey presto, you have a private rental market that actually provides decent, secure, affordable housing.

But people are less and less willing to believe this phony yarn.santander-flyer

It is not just a few rotten apples, it is a corroded barrel.

Santander’s rent rise clause lays bare the housing crisis for what it is – a structural mess, deep rooted in our banks, our property market and our government. We need radical reforms like rent controls and longer tenancies if we’re going to fix it, not feeble tinkering of the kind announced in the recent government white paper on housing.

In the foreword to the white paper Theresa May says:

“I want to fix this broken market so that housing is more affordable and people have the security they need to plan for the future.”

Even the Conservative government have now been forced to admit that our housing market is broken. This admission has been forced from them by groups like Digs.

But now we have to push even harder to get the kind of solutions, like rent control, that will actually fix the mess we’re in.

As rental prices keep going through the roof, more and more of us are beginning to face the prospect of not having one over our head. Organised renter power is the only way we’re to change this.

Get involved!

Digs meet the last Monday of every Month, 7-9pm at the New Kingshold Community Centre, 49 Ainsworth Road, E9 7JE.

We are currently planning a lively action against the letting agents who have responded to the proposed ban on rip off fees by hysterical scaremongering. They’re doing everything in their power to derail the long overdue ban on fees. But we’re not going to let them!

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