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Why ACORN Is Rallying for Renters’ Rights

Tomorrow, renters' union ACORN will hold rallies across the country to pressure MPs to adopt the Renters Reform Coalition blueprint – a charter aimed at empowering tenants and reining in rogue landlords.

This year, the government will finally publish its long-awaited Rental Reform White Paper—the ‘precursor’ to the formal Renters’ Reform Bill which was promised by the Conservatives in their most recent election manifesto. According to the government’s narrative, the paper will transform renting across the UK—but many believe it will not go far enough.

As a series of recent Tribune articles argued, private renting in England is broken: landlords increased the amount they are charging tenants by the largest percentage in history in 2021 and private rents are now the highest ever recorded. From families facing no fault evictions and those forced to live in unsafe housing to people shut out of their communities by skyrocket rents, tenants are under brutal siege by rogue landlords and profit-hungry developers.

One of the groups fighting back on the frontline is direct-action union ACORN, originally a small community group from Bristol, now the country’s largest community union and a mighty force to be reckoned with. ACORN takes action predominantly on community issues, winning campaigns around issues like transport, litter and—you guessed it—lots and lots of housing.

Be it marching on dodgy landlords to demand compensation for our members, or physically resisting evictions in our neighbourhoods, bit by bit we’re fighting to tip the scales back in the favour of local communities. And we’re doing it across the country: from fighting rent hikes in Manchester to anti-benefit policies in Oxford and helping tenants win their rent back from dodgy landlords in Leeds.

More recently, ACORN has worked as part of the Renters Reform Coalition to propose amendments to the Tory bill and pressure MPs to adopt them. You can read the proposed blueprint here.  It includes an end to the brutal Section 21 ‘no fault evictions,’ the leading cause for homelessness in the UK.

It also calls for tenancies to be open ended, allowing people to put down real roots with the security they can stay in one place. And importantly, it lays out plans for a lifetime deposit scheme and a National Landlords Register to ensure secure and equal access to housing for everyone. If adopted, these amendments would see a radical transformation in the way we rent in the UK, improving the lives of millions of private tenants.

As ACORN grows in strength and numbers, we hope to influence more and more national policy, while staying true to our direct action principles. This Saturday (April 9), we will be taking action across the country in London, Sheffield, Brighton, Leeds, Walsall and Newcastle to pressure MPs to adopt the Renters Reform Coalition’s blueprint.

Members and supporters will gather for rallies and renting themed games, with several housing specific MPs invited to take part. This shows ACORN’s increasing ability to mobilise nationally, taking on bigger campaigns and fighting for bigger wins.

While this week we’re mobilising nationally, next week our members will be back fighting street for street, block for block fighting for the change we need and the basic services we are owed. Whichever struggle you feel more comfortable with, there’s never been a better time to join our fight for communities worth living in.