“It was great to see so much community spirit on such a wet and cold day! Housing is important because it's where we live. It might be business and numbers for some people, but when it's a space you call your own, the state of it directly affects you.” - Dom
“From my experience doorknocking it is really clear that housing, private renting in particular, is a massive problem in Heaton. Some of the stories I have heard are just awful and nobody should be subject to bad living conditions or extortionate agency fees.”
As decided at the launch, we came together to show that we won't accept low standards. We set up a fake letting agent on Chillingham Road, with pictures of the mould and disrepair renters face.
From there we spoke to members of the public about their housing stories, and three teams broke off to speak to the Heaton letting agents – talking to them about their fees and asking them to come and meet us next year.
“I felt like this was a very effective action... and I am really excited to see what the next one brings. We got a lot of attention and hopefully have encouraged more people to join in the future.” - Kenzia
First action gets results!
And the action's already seen results... We've now had a definite yes from one agent to attend our meeting, and several others have said they want to come too. We've also now got more supporters for the campaign.
High fees and letting agents breaking the law?
We also mapped out what the different agency fees are – Northumbria University's agent charges no fees at all, while some charge hundreds of pounds. And we discovered that some letting agents don't seem to be displaying their fees in store and online, like they're supposed to by law.
So one of our jobs for next year will be making sure they're transparent – this kind of thing matters because it means they can introduce hidden fees and charge more to people who are desperate.
Making it happen
(some of our letting agent's business cards...)
And finally, people in Heaton stopped in the snow to talk to us and hear more about the campaign, so there'll be more of us together for the future. Big thanks to everyone for braving the weather and making it such a fun action. You all proved that collectively we're a strong and determined group that can make things happen.
Want to get involved?
Thanks for your support, and see you soon!