London Renters Union
Lewisham and East London
Tenants are taking action against rip-off landlords to win lower rents and longer tenancies.
Operating across London, the London Renters Union is building a democratic, member-led union that supports private renters in the capital to take action towards tackling the housing crisis.
Since the London Renters Union (LRU) was founded in 2018, members have been taking action to transform the housing system from the bottom-up. What started as a group of housing action associations formed of angry tenants calling for change is now a recognised union with more than 1,500 members and branches in Hackney, Lewisham, Leytonstone and Newham.
The LRU is fighting to transform the housing system so that everyone has access to an affordable, secure and decent home. Milestones in its first year include working with other campaigners to get the government to announce the scrapping of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, supporting Ridley Road traders to get organised and stop their eviction, and forcing NatWest to drop its benefits discrimination.
On top of this, LRU helped its member Mary get £5,000 back from an estate agent, after being intimidated to pay the six month’s rent in advance to secure a rental contract. Mary borrowed the money to make this payment and then was told she needed to pay another £4,800 rent in advance in six months’ time. When Mary said she couldn’t move in on this condition, the estate agents refused to give her back any of the £5,000 she’d already paid upfront. After a year of protests by Mary and the LRU, the estate agents finally paid Mary back the full amount.
Amina Gichinga, an LRU organiser, told the Guardian: “London’s renters need homes that are safe, secure and comfortable, from which we can build fulfilling lives, and that we can afford. Our current system, fixed on delivering profits for landlords, is giving us the opposite. It needs to be transformed to put the needs of people first – rent controls are an important step on the way to that.”
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Insulate and solarise our homes
UK homes are some of the most expensive to heat in Europe. We can reduce emissions and fuel poverty.
Introduce rent controls
Controls will create a fairer, more affordable private rented sector in London, and provide a model for other cities.
Create a public register of landlords and rents
And open-access database of landlords is crucial to introducing rent control.