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.
As so many tenants in the city will know, this scenario of exploitation and neglect is all too common, creating stress, anxiety and uncertainty for those on the receiving end. It also demonstrates the extent to which letting agencies act as border guards, policing who can and cannot have access to shelter according to the government's racist and xenophobic hierarchies.
The difficult situation regarding the move-in date that the agency created for the tenants meant that they were no longer able to take the house, as they required somewhere to live before the later moving in date, and because their mistreatment by the agency had made the whole situation so difficult that it no longer felt like a comfortable place to live.
One of the tenants is a friend of the Brighton SolFed local and had participated in and supported previous SolFed cases. After she got in touch, a meeting was arranged to talk through the situation with two SolFed members. The tenants rightly wanted their £840 back, given that they could no longer move into the house and had been so messed around. After the meeting, the tenant wrote a letter to the agency explaining that they expected the return of their £840 and the reasons why, confident in the knowledge that SolFed would back her and the other tenants up. The agency replied with some bureaucratic grumbling, and then agreed to refund the entire amount. The tenants were really pleased to get some justice, and to be able to show that, with the power of a solidarity network, it is possible to stand up to the bullying of agencies and landlords!
Trouble with your landlord or letting agency? Get in touch with Brighton SolFed Hosing Union by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by texting 07427239960.