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Brighton Journal | 14th December 2019

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ACORN refuse to support Rent Smart Conference

ACORN refuse to support Rent Smart Conference
Lauren Nicolle

A Rent Smart Conference is due to take place today at The University of Sussex. The conference will address legislation issues, discuss private rental issues and give tenants a chance to share their own stories and questions. 

Rent Smart Brighton & Hove is a partnership organisation, with the aim of making renting better for all those across the city.

The conference will take place this afternoon from 2pm-5:30pm in Bramber House. The conference is free and you’ll get the chance to hear about how legislation, past, present and future affects rented housing and have the opportunity to share your own experiences.

The Rent Smart Conference is for anyone interested in housing issues in Brighton and Hove and has any involvement in private rented housing, whether living in it, managing or owning it, giving housing advice or trying to find homes for people.

David Chaffey, BHT’s Director of Housing and Property Services and one of the organisers of the Rentsmart Conference, said:

“The Rentsmart Conference is about making successful partnerships between landlords and tenants, to ensure that there are successful tenancies. Many of those who are organising the conference come from a tenants’ rights background.  Those landlords who are attending are interested in renting their properties to people on lower incomes, people who otherwise might struggle to compete in the housing market.

“At the end of the day we need successful tenancies. Tenants want greater security and a healthy relationship with their landlords. The best landlords want reliable and long term tenants. Short term tenancies and high turnover of tenants is in no one’s interest.

However, the ACORN community refuse to show their support for the Rent Smart Conference. ACORN are a community-based union or working class people, including tenants, workers and residents.

They describe themselves as a member-led, campaigning organisation supporting and empowering low-income communities across the country to fight for a better life. A spokesperson explained why they will not be attending the Rent Smart conference, saying:

“ACORN Brighton has declined the offer to take part in the Rent Smart conference as we believe it promotes unethical landlord practices which we are currently campaigning against. One of the key partners of Rent Smart is landlord association iHowz, who offer ‘discount evictions services’ on Section 21 evictions on their website. Section 21 evictions, known as ‘no-fault’ evictions give landlords the power to evict tenants without giving a reason. This leaves tenants with little security and is a main cause of homelessness. For these reasons the government is planning to revoke Section 21 following ACORN’s ‘End Unfair Evictions’ campaign.

ACORN Brighton has further concerns over the relationship between Brighton and Hove City Council and iHowz, who are both partners of Rent Smart as well as partners in other housing schemes. Considering the severity of the homelessness crisis in Brighton we believe it is inappropriate for our council to be in partnership with an organisation that advocates using Section 21 evictions, and this raises doubts over their commitment to ending homelessness in Brighton.  We have contacted the council regarding these concerns but are yet to receive a response.  

Ending Section 21 evictions is included in ACORN Brighton’s Minimum Standards for Brighton Landlords Charter which will be delivered to Brighton and Hove City Council at their next Housing Committee meeting on November 13. This charter was written by ACORN members in consultation with renters across the city including at our recent ‘Big Renters Meeting.’ We believe this charter to be representative of the renters voice in Brighton and will call upon Brighton council to use it as guidance for future housing policy.”

For more details about the Rent Smart Conference, please click here.

For more details about ACORN, please click here.

 

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