"Squatters 1: Tory party nil" - anti-squatting MP chased from university campus

Reports circulating on Twitter suggest Tory MP for Hove and architect of the recently passed anti-squatting law, Mike Weatherley, has been chased from campus by angry students. Weatherley had been due to address the university Conservative Society. Weatherley's anti-squatting law, pushed through amidst a barrage of lies and disinformation about squatting, abolished the centuries-old right to squat in abandoned residential buildings. With rising fees and living costs, squatting has been a way of saving money for many poorer Sussex students - empty residential properties in Brighton and Hove outnumbered homeless families 10:1

Spanish government announces halt on evictions in the "most urgent cases", anti eviction protesters occupy banks

As the Spanish government announced a two year halt on evictions in “the most urgent cases” today, following two suicides by people evicted from their homes, more than a hundred people have demonstrated this evening outside the headquarters of the PP.  Rejecting a “whitewash” and calling for a stop on all evictions they occupied various banks, including the Banco de España. Inside the banks people shouted “how many more will you kill?” and “these are not suicides, they are murders”. The government made the announcement following mass anger when a woman in Barakaldo threw herself from her window just before eviction, and a man in Granada was found hanged in his flat when the police came to evict him.  Evictions are running at 500 a day in Spain. 

Victorstone pay up after scores call to complain

Ruth, Jess and Charlotte recently took up a rented property in Bethnal Green through the Shoreditch branch of Victorstone Property Consultants, paying £3,451 as rent and deposit. After they had only just moved into the house, Victorstone fell out with the landlords over the fees they would take, the landlords decided they wanted to get out of the letting, and changed the locks.

Ruth, Jess and Charlotte managed to get some money back from the landlady, but the landlady had never been transferred the full amount, because Victorstone had subtracted their fee. Victorstone initially tried to mislead Ruth, Jess and Charlotte, implying that all the money had been transferred to the landlady. In fact they intended to keep c.£1200 of their money for a completely failed deal.

Denied deposits? Refused repairs? Harassed by your landlord?

South London Solfed can help you fight back against the exploitative practices of landlords and estate agencies.

Our new "Stuff Your Landlord" leaflet lists some basic legal rights.

It can be useful to know the law because many landlords don’t follow basic legal requirements. But we also need to remember that the law is not going to be on our side most of the time. We shouldn’t rely on a court system designed to benefit the rich and powerful to make sure we’re treated fairly.

Rogue letting agents back down

Three tenants discovered that it is illegal in Scotland for letting agents to charge tenants fees apart from rent and deposits. Their letting agent, Martin & Co, had charged the three of them them a substantial £250 ‘check-in’ fee before they had even paid their deposit.

They first submitted an official complaint but received only the receipt listing the fees they had paid as a reply. The charity Shelter advised them that they could go to the small claims court, but the court fee would have been £65 with no guarantee of a win.

So instead, on 3rd February, they and 15 friends from the Glasgow Solidarity Network delivered a letter in person to the head of the Martin & Co West End office (to the amusement of other staff) giving the company two weeks to return the money.

Direct action gets the goods! Victory in less than a week for newly reformed Glasgow Solidarity Network

Glasgow Solidarity Network has demonstrated how direct action gets the goods with a successful conclusion to its first fight.  Two members of the Glasgow Anarchist Federation and their flatmate discovered that it is illegal in Scotland for letting agents to charge tenants fees apart from rent and deposits.  Their letting agent, Martin & Co, had charged the three of them them a substantial £250 “check-in” fee before they had even paid their deposit.  They first submitted an official complaint but received only the receipt listing the fees they had paid as a reply.

The Cairns Street blockade

Residents of Cairns Street, in Toxteth, yesterday defied private contractors coming to demolish houses as part of a "regeneration" scheme by blockading the street. The demolishers Lovell and the police were both foiled by the peaceful action, which will be continuing every morning from 8am whilst the threat of demolition remains.

The demolition of the houses first came on the cards in June, when Lovell won planning permission to knock down six houses in order to build three. Residents objected from the point of the initial bid, but their protests have been studiously ignored by the Labour council. A site visit won no concessions, and when a planning meeting was split over the issue councillor John Macintosh used his casting vote to take the side of the developers.

As one local resident told Liverpool Confidential;

Brighton homeless housing farce

The number of homes standing empty in Brighton and Hove outnumber the number of homeless families ten to one - but a Tory MP is leading calls to criminalise squatting. Brighton and Hove Council accepts responsibility for housing 368 homeless households, while 3,655 homes sit empty. Despite this, Tory MP Mike Weatherly wants to criminalise squatting, putting the interests of landlords and property speculators before those of the homeless. Home repossessions peaked last year following an increase in defaults on mortgages and rent during the recession.

Gentrification, class and social policy: A Housing Timebomb?

With even the professional classes struggling to get onto the property ladder these days, future generations may never be able to afford to leave the family home at all. But rising house prices are no joke, with a record 45,000 repossessions predicted this year. Many more of us are now being priced out of the ‘desirable’ locations where we grew up by the second-home market, or finding our areas gentrified by a plague of parasitic property developers. The unfolding housing situation is a further indication of our polarised nation, with a complete dearth of affordable housing now becoming the norm.

Toxteth's Welsh Streets should be saved, but not because of Ringo…

A campaign to save Toxteth’s historic Welsh Streets from demolition has been dealt a blow after English Heritage refused to put a preservation order on 9 Madryn Street, the house where Ringo Starr was born.

The 11 streets of Victorian terraced houses were built by Welsh workers to house local dockers and their families. The area was also infamous for its radical political tradition.

Lack of central heating and persistent rising damp has driven the most recent residents out, but preservationists argue that modern restoration methods can make the homes habitable again. This is obviously an idea that the property developers don’t want to see gain traction, as simply restoring the houses would not justify massive asking prices.