TIME FOR A TENANTS UNION
“We are a democratic organisation run by and for tenants.
We want homes for people, not for profit; to redress the power imbalance between landlords and tenants; and ensure that everyone has decent and affordable housing.
We believe in the collective power of tenants to come together to fight for their rights, and use diverse tactics – including direct action when necessary – to achieve this.
We are not affiliated to any political party, but recognise the importance of influencing parties and politicians and holding them to account.”
Aside from to a few pals, Jeffels and I haven’t really mentioned the endless issues we’ve experienced with Countrywide over our time renting from them in Glasgow. A lot of the problems I’m not going to write about publicly just yet, but I feel now is a good time for us to start being vocal. I mean, 9 months out of a 12 month tenancy is a long ass time to be simultaneously harassed and ignored.
After being informed by the council that our Landlord had been issued with a Rent Penalty Notice (preventing the collection of rent from us while under investigation), and that Countrywide were persisting to try and collect rent, we met with Dan of Living Rent a couple of weeks ago for a general chat about the situation, and to see if it was something Living Rent would be able to help us with. Turns out it was, and the following week we’d had a second meeting with Dan and Sean to plan a suitable course of action. There was an eagerness in all of us to get on with this right away, so the first step was an emergency picket held outside Countrywide’s office on Byres Road today.
A bunch of us assembled at Kelvinhall Subway before walking up to the offices.
We stopped outside the office and filmed some bits about what was going on and I’m sure that will end up on the Living Rent Glasgow Facebook page at some point.
Dan and Sean lead the way into the office to make contact with Gareth Muir (Countrywide’s Senior Branch Manager) with a list of demands that we had all agreed on for today’s initial contact.
We were in there for a considerable amount of time with Dan and Sean effortlessly talking and on our behalf and taking notes, all the while the people who joined us stood outside the office distributing flyers and playing music.
Thanks to Living Rent, today’s meeting yielded instant results with Gareth signing off on all the initial points raised, some of which included: To cease all correspondence regarding rent arrears until further notice; Proof of our security deposits being correctly accounted for and registered with a deposit protection scheme; Receiving the correct contact information for our Landlord; The lighting circuits getting fixed, and; Replacement furniture that was promised at the start of the tenancy within 7 days.
Not bad, eh!
I’ll be attending the Living Rent Glasgow Branch Launch tomorrow in Govan from 1pm-5pm. See details in the photo below.
Before I sign off, Countrywide are a pretty huge company – so please help signal boost this by sharing it far and wide. Fellow tenants shouldn’t be suffering due to the incompetence and malpractice of companies like this. If you’re renting a property and are experiencing issues with your Landlord or Letting Agent, leave your stories in the comments section below and join a Union to get the help you deserve.