ACORN, the community-based tenants union, is to hold a ‘Know your Rights’ session next Tuesday at the Font, Fallowfield.
The union, which was established to help renters in disputes against landlords and developers, aims to “bring people together to support each other to improve their lives, and their communities.” This includes member defence to support those facing both unjust eviction and unfair treatment and is in addition to their wider campaigning, an example of which was their ‘RentersVote’ campaign that last year registered 4,000 people to vote, many of whom were homeless.
The session will run from 7-9pm, and any students who are keen to know more about their rights as tenants are encouraged to attend. The event will also be accompanied by guidance from the barrister Joe Markus to advise on problems regarding contracts, deposits and repairs, and also to provide direction on any tenancy queries.
At the end of the evening, attendees can also log official complaints against their landlords.
Known for its bustling student population, Manchester boasts a student community of 85,000 people. According to Manchester Evening News, this provides the basis for the highest yields for landlords in the whole of the UK.
However, high rent does not always equate to high quality, as Ben Ell, the Member Defence Officer for ACORN Manchester, told The Mancunion: “We know the situation for student renters in the city is pretty awful and we have had lots of wins for our student members already. We want students to know their rights, and we will fight with them where they are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous landlords.
“This free and open information night is the first step in building a group just for students which will defend its members and campaign on wider issues. Joining the union costs £3 a month per household, and that ensures our volunteer union can keep fighting and make them accountable only to our members. After all, we are a union, not a charity!”
Since launching four years ago in Bristol, ACORN has rapidly expanded across the country, establishing bases nation-wide from Birmingham to Brighton. In January, Manchester was added to the growing list.
The union has seen a high success rate in Manchester, with many cases seeing an almost instant response after threatening action against landlords.
“We deal with lots of students whose deposits weren’t put into deposit protection schemes, ” Ben continued.
“After weeks of politely asking for it back, and being continuously ignored, they have joined the union: we then threaten action, and the deposits are back in their accounts in hours. These cases are then sent to legal teams to take those landlords to court.
“Our first big case involved a boiler that hadn’t worked all winter. There was mould on the walls and students were suffering from chest infections because of it.
“Four hours after sending an email threatening action, the boiler was replaced. This was accompanied with additional repairs, and money was paid to all tenants to cover the costs of running fan heaters all winter.”
If you are a student tenant and have experienced unjust treatment from your landlord, ACORN can be contacted by email via [email protected] They are also contactable via Facebook and Twitter, found @ACORNmanchester