A society built, led by and organised for the people.
To create a mass member-led tenant and community union in Scotland’s mainland and island communities that builds and wins power block by block, street by street, and glen by glen.
Who is Living Rent?
We are a mass-membership union of tenants, carers, workers and residents, rooted in working-class struggle. We organise collectively to build the power to secure material improvements to our daily lives and put power back where it belongs: in the hands of ordinary people.
We build this power to fight for better rights and better protections against rent increases, evictions, lack of public services, high energy bills, pollution and poor-quality housing. We know our current political system is failing ordinary people and we refuse to wait for politicians or charities to change things for the better.
We will organise across every aspect of our lives to win what we deserve.
Inequality and social problems are about power: who has power and in whose interests it is used.
It is our class that powers society and keeps the wheels turning: nurses, shop workers, delivery drivers, carers, cleaners, refuse collectors. We come together from all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, ethnicities, ages, religions, experiences and impairments to raise the young, support the elderly, and create the country’s wealth. Our collective labour produces the resources to ensure that everyone can lead a dignified and decent life.
But we do not control these resources or decide how they’re used. Instead, politicians, landlords, big companies, banks, unelected officials and international markets do. They use their power to profit from our basic needs. They extract rent from our homes, make huge profits while we freeze, sell off public housing, land and services while we are forced out of our homes, hoard food while people starve, and speculate on our lives. While elections come and go, inequality keeps rising and we’re pitted one against the other.
Housing is central to this system of power.
Where and how we live is crucial in determining our relationship to the state and to our working lives, leisure time, sense of community and sense of self. At the same time, the housing system today is exploited for profit on a massive scale. It is a key lever of social, economic and political inequality, and maintains the oppression of people on the basis notably of class, race, gender and disability. Specific minority and racialized groups in particular are targeted and put at further risk through the existing housing system. Decent, secure, affordable housing for all is fundamental to providing the conditions where everyone can start to lead a fulfilling life.
We also understand that housing doesn’t exist in isolation. We need power to determine what happens beyond our doorstep: the infrastructure and local services in our neighbourhoods; the access to decent and sustainable food; how energy supplies are owned and distributed; and the quality of the air we breathe. We want good homes in good communities, where the benefits are shared by all those who live there, not captured by landlords and profiteers.
Historically, our class has always fought to take back what’s ours. In trade unions, we have built power to fight for better wages and dignity at work. Our union extends that fight into our homes and communities, building power over everyday life. Through this struggle, we can redistribute the collectively-produced wealth of society in the interests of all.
We believe that only by coming together to fight for our collective interests wherever they’re threatened - in our workplaces, homes and communities - can we begin to take power back.
We are out for a world where all, without discrimination, are guaranteed the means to a life worth living. We want political power to be exercised by those who work together for the common good. We want housing, healthcare, transport, culture and education to be controlled and improved by the cooperation of tenants, workers and carers. We believe in the power of our class. We’re the ones who keep the wheels turning – it’s time we took over the bus!
We are inspired by 200 years of everyday working-class struggle in Scotland: from the crofters in Skye who fought eviction and clearances to the great rent strikes movements on Clydeside in 1915 and the mass mobilisations against the Poll Tax. In the words of the rent strike leader Helen Crawfurd – we are not out for money or charity, but justice.
Across the world, tenant and community unions are fighting for this common vision. We are part of an international movement that shares knowledge, builds collective power and mobilises in solidarity. International finance’s insatiable demand for profits drives it to exploit all corners of the world with no regard for society or the environment – we must be ready to challenge it.
Our mission is to build an organised, permanent mass-membership working class union.
- We organise and empower working-class and marginalised communities to secure a better quality of life, and to strengthen equality, solidarity and democracy across society. We do this by sustaining our victories through clear strategies and employing all available tactics, including direct action.
- We build community networks to struggle across scale: neighbourhoods, towns, cities, rural areas, regions and the country as a whole.
- We build the infrastructure and resources to begin taking power into our own hands.
- We combine and coordinate activities across the union and with allies in order to build a social movement to achieve our goals.
- We provide education for our members, developing the knowledge and skills needed to achieve radical change. We demystify politics by supporting our members to analyse and confront power at every level, learning through struggle.
- We fund and resource the union’s work through its membership in order to maximise our independence, sustainability and democratic accountability.
In organising, our strength comes from our belief that a society built by the people and for the people, is possible. Through redistributing the wealth of society for the common good rather than the interests of profit, and ensuring a transparent, accountable and functioning democracy, we can ensure a good life for all.
Housing: High-quality, secure, accessible and genuinely affordable public housing for all. Housing that is collectively owned as a social good necessary for a dignified life.
Climate crisis: That the economic system that has brought humanity and the natural world to the brink of collapse be urgently replaced. To prioritise action against the biggest threat we have ever faced through rapid decarbonisation of the economy.
Work: Dignified, well-paid and meaningful work that benefits our communities, with caring responsibilities recognised and valued. A system where workers have control and ownership over the production process, and where everyone has comprehensive rights to organise in the workplace.
Health: A universal public health and social care service, free at the point of delivery. A healthcare system rooted in caring for the physical and mental well-being of all from cradle to grave. The treatment of addiction as a public health matter, with expanded addiction support services.
Welfare: A welfare state that guarantees we can live well regardless of our ability to work, together with universal free childcare and secure pensions.
Education: Free lifelong education and training, accessible to all, that supports all types of skills and learning. A critical education based on the histories and roles of our people and communities in shaping society and our power to shape the future.
Food: No one will go hungry. We want a diverse food system in which everybody has access to healthy, sustainable and affordable food, produced and obtained locally.
Utilities: Publicly owned and operated utilities, covering water, energy and broadband delivered on the basis of need. Scotland's green energy resources used to build a sustainable future for communities and the planet.
Services and infrastructure: A programme of maintenance and investment in our civic environment to ensure public access to high-quality parks, squares, meeting halls, libraries, community centres and sports facilities held in common good. Free, universal and genuinely public services, accessible and appropriate to our communities
Transport: Free, widely accessible, green, and publicly owned transport that promotes liveable urban environments and connects rural communities to the services they need.
Planning and land use: For decisions around how land is used and how rural and urban areas are organised spatially to be based on principles of ecology, democracy, accessibility and transparency. To prioritise taking back Scotland's land into public and community ownership, expanding access rights, and safeguarding an ecologically diverse country.
Migration and borders: No one is illegal. An end to the criminalisation of migration, the hostile environment, detention and deportation. Full rights for all migrants and those seeking asylum and refuge from war, climate change and poverty.
Discrimination: Communities and a housing system which reinforces equality rather than reproduces inequality - fostering networks of compassion, care and solidarity. We seek to remove the barriers caused by ableism, racism, transphobia, xenophobia, sexism, classism and all forms of discrimination within Living Rent, the housing system and society as a whole.
Culture and art: To build a people’s culture that is truly accessible to all. One that fosters solidarity, mutual aid and interdependence - with the tools to create and share art, food, language and culture in its broadest sense.