These are uncertain times: we do not know how long the lockdown will last, we fear for our loved ones, and we are being left in the dark regarding our incomes, rents and future. In these moments, seeing people across Scotland stand up for each other and organise for this crisis not to hurt us more has been incredible. You demonstrate every day that in union, there is strength. Shout-out to all of yous who have contacted your MSP to ask for a ban on evictions as well as those of you who have joined local neighbourhood Living Rent groups to organise a response to the pandemic. Every day, we are building power through this crisis and holding our government and our landlords to account, ensuring that our rights and our safety are protected.
Victory for tenants
Living Rent members up and down the country have been working flat out over the last two weeks to secure the protections renters need during this crisis. On Tuesday 24 March, the Scottish Government banned all evictions both in the private and social sector for 6 months. It’s an enormous win, and one that belongs to every tenant in Scotland.
It would not have happened without a huge amount of work: 15,000 people signed a petition, thousands of people emailed the housing minister, hundreds flooded the phone lines of the housing spokespeople for all the parties in the Scottish parliament. We showed that tenants wouldn't just sit back and let the government abandon us (you can look at some of the coverage we got here).
There’s still a lot to fight for…
Of course, there is still so much more work to do to make sure tenants aren't driven into poverty by sky-high rents over the coming months. We are working with other renters’ unions across the country to articulate a coordinated response to the crisis: get in touch ([email protected]) if you want to help. We will also need to ensure that social and public landlords deliver serious hygiene protocols to protect their tenants, deliver essential repairs and, of course, respect the eviction ban. We will continue to organise and pressure landlords and, as always, our local neighbourhood branches and emerging member defence teams (get in touch here) will be crucial to this work.
Living Rent’s Wyndford Tenants Union in particular has led the way in providing a community response to Covid-19, organising hygiene products, educational posters and advice across the blocks, as their landlord - Cube Housing - has abandoned tenants to horrific conditions (see here). The union has now forced the landlord to take some basic actions on cleaning and safety after two weeks of pressure, but the fight is far from over.
Housing Action Day: Physical Distance - Social Solidarity
On Saturday the 28th of March, tens of thousands of tenants across Europe will come together (not physically!) for the Housing Action Day, making their voices heard against evictions and for housing for all. The coronavirus epidemic is hitting the poorest hardest and exacerbating the housing crisis – now is the time to respond with solidarity across borders! #housingactionday
In Scotland, join this action from 5pm on Saturday through a ‘picture petition’ showing that we can both uphold social distancing and demonstrate that we are here to stay and ready to fight for our rights.
How does it work?
- Write a slogan on a piece of paper and #housingactionday #livingrent
- Take a selfie holding the paper
- Post it on this Facebook page from 5 - 6pm
Here are some suggested slogans to use on the day (and feel free to write your own message):
‘SAFE, SECURE, SANITARY HOUSING FOR ALL!’
‘MORTGAGE HOLIDAY FOR LANDLORDS? RENT HOLIDAY FOR TENANTS!’
That’s it from your union for now, get in touch ([email protected]) if you have ideas, tune in to the online social Friday night (See here) and, importantly, take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Care and courage, Living Rent