Tenants renting flats from private landlords in Brighton and Hove are being invited to discuss their problems at a meeting next Thursday.
Private tenants in Brighton and Hove face some of the highest rents and most expensive agency fees in the country. Tenants are often charged thousands of pounds before even picking up the keys, and pay hundreds more to renew their tenancy after 6 months.
According to the National Housing Federation, the average private sector rent in Brighton and Hove reached 49% of the average income in 2013-14; many tenants report that their rent is well over half their income.
Last month, the Living Rent Campaign, which is calling for rents to be no more than a third of tenants’ income, was given a boost when councillors agreed to refer the issue to the city’s fairness commission.
Matt Bolton, a private tenant who is involved in organising the meeting, said: “It can feel scary and isolating to be left with no choice but to stump up for exploitative rents and fees when the only other option is homelessness.
“Private landlords and letting agents have private tenants over a barrel, charging ripoff rents and fees knowing full well tenants have no way to challenge what is outright extortion.
“By sharing experiences we realise that these are problems we have in common, and that this housing crisis affects us collectively. And it means we can start working out ways in which we can fight back.”
The meeting on October 15 at 6.30pm organised by Brighton Peoples’ Assembly against Austerity, the Living Rent Campaign and Brighton Tenants Union, will feature a screening of SÍ SE PUEDE: Seven Days at PAH Barcelona, a documentary about the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (PAH) movement in Spain.
It follows the group for a week, as they act in support of people facing repossession, eviction and homelessness. Campaigners hope the film will inspire a similar solidarity movement in Brighton and Hove.