On the 20th of January, Living Rent held its second national AGM.
Nearly 60 people from across Scotland came to Edinburgh to nominate a new national Board and discuss our national campaigns. Elected board members included: Jon Black, Emma Saunders, Craig Paterson, Mina Baird, George Lavery, Sonja Coquelin, Leigh Graven and Rebecca Chan.
We celebrated doubling our membership since last year, and took the opportunity to recognise the many cases we won in 2017: stopping illegal evictions, securing vital repairs (we won thousands of pounds' worth of repairs for our members), reclaiming deposits and illegal fees and contesting rent rises (have a look at our annual report to hear about these victories at greater length).
We also discussed strategies for the Winter Break campaign, our effort to make sure that no eviction can be enforced during the winter months. We agreed to organise a national demonstration to promote the idea, and to ensure that Parliament heard our voices loud and clear by bringing the issue to First Minister’s Questions.
We also discussed the possibilities and limits of Rent Pressure Zones. While we are organising across Glasgow and Edinburgh to pressure the councils into designating high-density areas Rent Pressure Zones, we are also aware that this particular form of rent control has its limitations in securing rents that are affordable in real terms for tenants in the private rented sector. We decided to continue our campaign as a first step towards a more effective system of rent controls in the future.
Finally, we discussed the issue of short-term lets in Edinburgh. Our members had a lot to say about the topic, and were so concerned about the detrimental impact of AirBnB-style lets on Edinburgh rent prices and property availability that we planned a (very well attended) protest for the very next Monday morning.
And so, onwards and upwards for 2018. Block by block, street by street, we're building this tenants' union!