about us

ABOUT LIVING RENT

Who we are

Living Rent is Scotland’s tenants’ union. We organise and represent our members in the private and social rented sector. We fight for safe, secure and affordable housing for everyone.

We are a democratic organisation run by and for our members. We know our current political system is failing tenants. But we believe in homes for people, not for profit, and we are building a union and a movement to make that a reality.

We are not affiliated to any political party and only answer to our members.

 

What we do

We are ordinary tenants fighting for better rights and better protections against rent increases, evictions and poor-quality housing. We organise collectively to represent and empower our members in disputes with landlords and letting agents. We refuse to just wait and hope for politicians, charities or private companies to improve our lives.

Living Rent uses collective power to improve our communities, and to fight back against the structures and economic policies that see our communities and neighbourhoods as little more than an opportunity to line the pockets of the few, making enormous profits at our expense.

We have a record to be proud of having won tens of thousands of pounds in compensation and repairs for our members, stopped illegal evictions, forced councils to invest in major improvements and renovations, and changed government legislation.

Our missions

  • To organise and empower working class renters to secure a better quality of life and to strengthen equality, solidarity and democracy in society. 
  • To combine and coordinate our activities across our organisation and with our partners, building a social movement to achieve our goals.
  • To provide education for our members and tenants,  developing and sharing knowledge and skills  with a focus on social change.
  • To fund and resource our work through our members, in order to maximise our independence, sustainability & accountability to the membership.

We have regular meetings in Edinburgh, Glasgow and are looking to set up branches across the country. If you’re interested in getting involved please get in touch!

WHAT WE DO

Living Rent is a mass-membership organisation of low-middle income renters, working and fighting together to win concrete improvements to our daily lives and put political and economic power back where it belongs – in the hands of ordinary people. In short, we are a union.

In any town or city, we build the union from scratch, by people working, taking action, campaigning and winning together. We’ve stopped evictions, won tens of thousands in repairs and compensations from landlords and letting agents as well as major improvements in the law. By building tenant power and challenging landlords collectively, we not only win for our members but we also fight for a housing and a political system that puts people before profit.

Our structure

We are organised from the bottom up. 

We build groups - usually in a particular neighbourhood - to let people take action quickly on local issues. You can read more about our branch activities here (LINK GLASGOW) and here (LINK EDINBURGH). 

These groups have an elected leadership and are accountable to local members but also to the wider vision of the union. When there are enough local groups in a town or regions, they can form a city/regional branch to coordinate campaigns and action between the local groups. 

Branches work together on national campaigns. The national strategy and direction is set by our National Committee (NC), which is composed of tenants elected by the AGM as well as co-opted members without a voting power. The NC meets monthly with the senior staff member to review our activities.

We have active branches in Glasgow (link) and Edinburgh (link). We are building branches in specific neighbourhoods (link, link). Branches are divided into different teams: member defence, campaigns, outreach, events, communication. This allows us to operate in a coordinated fashion but also enables each team to have quite a lot of autonomy. 

You can see a description of each teams and their roles here You can check out the events near you (here) and get in touch if you want to build you own branch.

HOW ARE WE FUNDED

As a union, we function through a dues model: our members support us and this means that we are accountable to and put tenants’ interests first.

We feel very strongly about being democratic and member run, and so your member subscriptions keeps us working for you, our members. You can join here.

Trade unions have also supported our work by affiliating to Living Rent. You can see the list of affiliated unions here. We are grateful for such support and if you want to ask your union to affiliate, contact us ! (link)

We also seek external funding to support our activities and enable the growth of the union.

So far we have received funding from:

  • Foundation Scotland
  • People’s Health Trust
  • Sciehallion Trust
  • Big Lottery
  • Edith Ellis Trust

NATIONAL COMMITTEE

Sonja Coquelin: I joined Living Rent after the launch of the union in Glasgow. I was first in the outreach team, organising stalls and chapping on doors across the city. I quickly joined the Organising Team and I've been on the National Committee for about a year. I am a dedicated and active organiser in my branch, helping to build neighbourhood power and a militant tenants' union.

Ellinore Folkesson: When I moved to Scotland from Sweden, I was shocked by the poor quality of Scottish housing – having since become quite obsessed with researching the impact of neoliberalism and UK austerity policies, my initial reaction has been confirmed. I have also done research for the third sector on various socio-economic issues facing communities in Glasgow, and decent and affordable housing always recurs as a core component of tackling social injustices. 

David Hanson: I’ve been involved in various political and social justice causes both here in Scotland and back home in California. I’ve been working extensively housing struggle and policy since joining, contributing to our policy papers as well as speaking publicly on behalf of Living Rent. 

Gordon Maloney: My priorities, and the things I would like to spend the next year working on, are our campaign for rent controls - which I have coordinated up to now - and supporting the establishment of new branches in other cities in Scotland, having already begun that process in Aberdeen. 

Eilidh McIvor: I’m on the Edinburgh Organising Team and also one of the Member Defence team leads. My day job as a Policy Officer has me working on a range of social justice-related issues, mostly on social security benefits at both reserved and devolved levels. I’m also an adviser at Citizens Advice Bureau with a keen interest in benefits and housing advice.

STAFF

We currently have a small number of both paid and volunteer staff who work alongside elected leaders within Living Rent to help ensure that the union continues to grow while running smoothly and efficiently.

Jack Hanington - Member Defence Coordinator

Nick Durie - Organiser

George Lavery - Organiser

Sinéad McNulty - Organiser

Jon Black - Operations Manager

Emma Saunders - National Organiser