"On a Thursday morning a couple of weeks ago, I had a phone call from Holbrook Moran letting agents. They called to ask when it would be convenient for them to come round and replace my badly damaged front door. They said 'We're happy to work around you Jacqui, just let us know when it suits you.'
I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing at first and started to laugh out loud."
A few weeks ago, ACORN members living around Easton, Bristol, took this action, singing and protesting together to demand that landlord Tobie Holbrook made urgent repairs to the rented home of fellow ACORN member Jacqui. Here's what has happened afterwards...
"I quickly turned it into a cough but was still smiling so much I think they must have heard it in my voice. Well even if they did, it clearly didn't matter. I've now got the confidence to let my voice be heard properly.
My name is Jacqui Lewis and I've been struggling to get my landlord Tobie Holbrook - of Holbrook Moran letting agents - to carry out proper maintenance on my house for 18 months now. Most of you will have already heard my story from the email back in July so I won't go into it now. It’s enough to say that after battling so long to have the damp, mould and fungus removed I had almost given up hope.
'Do you think I'm made of money?'
This was the answer I got from Tobie when I asked him to replace my front door. It had been badly damaged on two occasions by people looking for the drug dealer who lived in the house before me. Tobie gave the same reply when ACORN Organiser Nick Ballard repeated my request.
A week after the ACORN protest and the outside wall of my house has been re-rendered, the kitchen re-plastered and painted and a new drainpipe fitted. Tobie has committed to eradicating any remaining damp and has repainted the affected areas of my bedroom and living room. And despite saying that he didn't have the money, he has magically produced some from somewhere. And now I have a new front door!
Although the Council had issued a repair order and given him almost 5 weeks to comply with it, there was no sign of Tobie doing any work until the first publicity of the ACORN protest outside his business began to do the rounds. I am sure that without the support of my fellow ACORN members he would have simply done some patching up here and there to satisfy the Council, but nothing significant.
Instead he quickly carried our further repairs that were never even on the Council's listand has done follow-up visits to check that my new drainpipe is working correctly. He has assured me that he has carried out full repairs to prevent any further damp. I don't really believe him on this but we will wait and see. ACORN has agreed to keep an eye on the damp in my property and ask its members for support if it returns.
I just want to say thank you to my fellow ACORN union members who came out to our demonstration and to all of you who replied to my last email with your words of support. Instead of increasing stress and desperation I have found a new community and a new confidence. It means so much to me that I don't have to fight alone any more.
Now I know what 'Power to the People' really means!
I am so grateful for all your support but I do need to ask you all a favour.
After being contacted by people all over Bristol we want to extend our campaign for decent standards in rented housing across the city. We're going to invite other organisations to support fair housing by partnering with us to create an Ethical Lettings Charter and get agencies, landlords and others to sign up to it. This is the best chance we've had for decades of getting a better deal for private renters in Bristol.
All the research, material costs and legwork we need to pull this off isn't cheap. ACORN relies on donations and member contributions to do its work. But we really can make a difference. So - please - join our movement by donating a couple of quid and get involved by helping us on a stall or leafletting neighbours.
I'm Jacqui Lewis and I'm proud to say that I'm a member of ACORN!"
Chip in what you can here.
Volunteer to help us on the streets or in any other way here.