Brighton Solidarity Federation has started a dispute with the lettings agency Spencer & Leigh in Patcham. A tenant has been organising with SolFed after £510 was withheld from her deposit in order to change a lock and to have the property professionally cleaned. The tenant left the property secure at the end of her tenancy, and she also had it professionally cleaned prior to vacating it.
The tenant was introduced to the landlady by Spencer & Leigh. Brighton SolFed has supported the tenant to try and find an amicable resolution to the dispute, with a demand letter delivered to the agency on Monday 11th September. So far, the landlady has refused to refund the £510 withheld from the deposit, and Spencer & Leigh have now instructed a solicitor to demand the removal of all material relating to the dispute from Brighton SolFed's website and social media channels. If this is not done, the solicitors say, Spencer & Leigh will take 'urgent injunctive action' against both ourselves and the tenant to make it happen.
The letter from the solicitor is an attempt to intimidate a tenant with young children out of taking action for the return of her deposit – money that, as any tenant will know, is much needed and in short supply. We're not surprised by these legal threats – anyone who has ever dealt with a landlord or letting agency will know that it is an industry that functions via bullying and intimidation. Indeed, the tenant experienced this during her tenancy, which was cut short and her request for flexibility ignored. The tenant was further distressed by the behaviour of the landlady, who turned up at the property unannounced to insist that she leave by a certain date. This was extremely upsetting, both for the tenant and for her young children, and that incident, coupled to the distress of the unjustified deductions from her deposit, has had a significant and negative effect on her physical and mental health.
The landlady has so far refused to return the £510 withheld from the tenant's deposit, and Spencer & Leigh are now trying to use legal intimidation to force the tenant to end the campaign. The problem for the agency is that SolFed does not hide disputes in administrative or judicial procedures. Our intention is to bring every dispute onto the streets. Not just because it is faster, cheaper and more effective, but also because it is the only way we can understand that each of us has the same problems. Through solidarity and direct action, ordinary people have the power to improve their lives. Tenants in Brighton and beyond are sick of being mistreated, but we know that our collective action and solidarity is stronger than their threats and intimidation.
Update 6/10/17: this matter has now been resolved and Brighton Solidarity federation is no longer in dispute with Spencer & Leigh.
As Chelsea says, We Got This!