A Manchester based letting and management agency backed down over its claim for letting fees after intervention action from a tenants’ Manchester and Liverpool based union.
The tenant fees ban came into force in June this year, but agents are within their rights to apply tenant fees for contracts signed before then – it is purely at the desertion of an agency whether or not these fees are waived.
However, following concerted pressure from Acorn, a tenant’s union, the agency involved, Ascend, of Washway Road, Sale, decided to waive its fees.
Following a mass protest from Acorn members outside the agency offices, which involved jambing the company’s telephone lines, a letter was handed to the manager reminding him that it was in his discretionary power to waive the outstanding fees.
A decision was made at the agency head office very quickly and it was decided to waive them.
Acorn said the letter stated:
“Acorn is here today because you are callously threatening your tenants with homelessness.
“These fees are paid to the agency, not the landlord.
“Ascend are simply attempting to line their own pockets at the expense of tenants and landlords.”
This was underlined by a threat that Acorn would “be forced to take further action” if the situation was not rectified.
El, an Acorn member who claims he was facing an eviction threat from Ascend for organising other tenants against the fee claim, told the Star newspaper:
“Ascend have made me and my housemates feel stressed throughout the situation.
“It’s affected all aspects of our lives and we are so glad that Acorn were there to back us.”
Acorn organiser Kat Wright told the Star:
“We won in twelve minutes.
“Our member was being threatened with eviction for organising against fees, which we think are unfair and immoral – and while they may be legal, we refuse to pay them.
“Now the fees are withdrawn, as is the Section 21 threat.
“This absolutely wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t had a rowdy picket with loads of members amping up the pressure.”
The newspaper did not print any response from Ascend.