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Activists want to build rent strike momentum across student sector

8 December 2020 | Renting

Activists want to build rent strike momentum across student sector

Activists are attempting to build rent strike momentum amongst students who rent property across the country.

‘Rent Strike” is a national network of student housing campaigns which, in its own words, “aim to create a space where we can share skills, tactics and advice on organising tenants on our campuses whilst also fighting for national change through collective and direct action.”

The Guardian newspaper calculates that there are at least 20 rent strikes currently under way or being organised on campuses, with activists signing up hundreds of students at Oxford and Cambridge colleges, Goldsmiths and the University of London, and Edinburgh.

Some of the dispute surrounds students who have chosen or been advised to leave college accommodation early because of Coronavirus.

The Guardian claims that the largest rent strike in the country is at Bristol University, where more than 1,400 students have been demanding rent cuts, more support and no-penalty contract releases. 

This is despite Bristol University offering students a 30 per cent rent rebate for seven weeks to reflect the staggered return in 2021, along with penalty-free contract releases for students whose health has been impacted.

Rent Strike’s aggressively worded website claims: “For every landlord making money from rent, there is a tenant being ripped off. For every university charging sky-high rents, there are people being priced out of higher education.”

And it says its tactic of urging students simply to refuse to pay their rent “has been most recently used at UK universities by pissed off student tenants, who have won millions of £££ in rent cuts and compensation.”

The website – which even has a merchandise section, selling T-shirts up to £12.99 each – urges students to link up with more mainstream tenant organisations in the UK and abroad, with statements like “Tenants of the World Unite: Wider housing struggles and how students can support them.”

It urges readers to get together to highlight high rents, claiming “five students and a photocopier can do more damage to an institution than an army”; to organise meetings to talk about rent with releases for local newspapers; starting a petition against rents and – despite the Coronavirus restrictions now in force – suggesting “throw parties; figure out how to cook collective meals, hold protests, intimidate management and resist an eviction.”

This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.