Last Night There Was A Protest Against Revenge Evictions Outside Parliament And Here’s Why You Should Care

What went down at the revenge eviction protest, and why you should care about whether it works or not

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by Stevie Martin |

You know when you complain to a landlord about something viable, like a faulty tap or your boiler exploding, and they evict you? This is something that genuinely happens, especially in desirable metropolises such as London, but there’s a bill about to be debated in Parliament that might make this illegal. Last night, a protest was held outside Westminster to support the idea, and also support the 213,000 private renters who faced eviction last year because they asked their landlord to fix a problem in their home.

According to research by Shelter, one in 12 private renters have avoided asking for repairs in case they are evicted, and one in 10 of Britain’s renters have suffered health problems in the last year because rogue landlords failed to deal with the poor environment conditions in their properties. ‘In recent years, huge numbers of our young members have been affected by horrendous conditions in private accommodation and have either been too scared to complain or have done so and been thrown out of their homes,’ says Rebecca Winson, the secretary of GMB Young London who helped organise the protest. ‘I myself was evicted when I complained to the council about my flat ceiling falling through due to a flood. Others have had rats running round their kitchens, outside doors that don’t lock and both health and possessions ruined by mould and damp.’

READ MORE: How Do You Complain About Your Landlord Without Losing Your Home?

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One of the protestors, Nicola Hawkins who’s a 26- year-old actress living in London, found the whole experience last night to be a real eye opener. ‘People there were explaining how far we’ve gone backwards in regards to rent controls, and that, at one point, we had under control,’ she told The Debrief. She hadn’t been revenge evicted, but was the victim of a rent-hike in response to a complaint she made about her London flat. ‘When speaking to my estate agents to renew my contact in September, they offered us another year with a small increase in rent (was about 2%),’ she recalls. ‘I said we would renew if the boiler was fixed properly, the fridge was repaired and some other minor things around the flat. They came back and said the rent was now being increased by a huge chunk (worked out to about 15%) all because we complained.’ Because of this, she can no longer live with her partner due to the rising cost. ‘We’re only asking for a decent standard of living – my two-bedroom flat costs £1,650 a month now and my partner and I have to share with a house mate because we can’t afford to live on our own. What if we wanted to have a baby? We couldn’t afford to carry on living where we were.’

This bill, if it’s passed, will be a chance for MPs to put a little bit of power back in the tenant’s hands. Our hands. Can you imagine being priced out of your flat because of a fault boiler? Totally unfair. As Rebecca Winson says, ‘We see this as the first step towards the private rental sector being properly regulated for the benefit of those who use it, not own it, and millions of lives being changed for the better.’

Preach.

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Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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