A hand grasping money
A hand grasping money. Image credit via Liz West flickr, Creative Commons.

In the midst of COVID-19, the housing crisis in the UK has come to the forefront. Only delaying the notice period for evictions, the government has failed to provide general protection to renters. With many in the House of Commons supplementing their income with property, this is unsurprising. This resource guide aims to cover aspects of the housing crisis, and how we can challenge rent.

Against Rent – Five Groups to Follow

Don’t just read about the problem of rent, check out these groups.

  • ACORN. One of the UK’s largest unions for renters. Since 2014 it has been organising to protect communities and their access to safe and secure housing.
  • London Renters Union. Within the capitol this is the leading group for tenant organising. Given the intensity of the housing crisis in London, the organisation is central to campaigning for improved housing.
  • RENT STRIKE. This organisation builds tenant power among student renters. It has many resources on organising, and a number of successful campaigns under its belt.
  • Living Rent. This is Scotland’s main tenant union. Particularly relevant for those in cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow.
  • Generation Rent. This group campaigns for renter interests and to ensure housing rights are protected.

Rent – Five Books

Given the risk the virus poses to frontline workers, we would encourage the purchase of ebooks rather than physical editions.

  • The Rent Trap by Rosie Walker and Samir Jeraj. This 2016 book aims to give a comprehensive account of how UK housing became dominated by rent. Ideal for anyone looking at how the rent trap is maintained.
  • Municipal Dreams by John Boughton. Council housing’s decline in the late 20th century is linked closely to the rise of rent. This book provides an account of public housing’s rise and fall.
  • The Autonomous City by Alexander Vasudevan. Squatting is one of the strategies to demand the right to secure housing. This work provides an account of squatting’s history in Europe and North America.
  • All that is Solid by Danny Dorling. Linking to Dorling’s wider work on rising inequality, this book looks at the housing crisis, and the power of the wealthy to extract rent.
  • Urban Warfare by Raquel Rolnik. This work analyses how housing was financialised and the long-term damage this has done to millions of working people.

Rent – Five Articles

  • Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay by RENT STRIKE. This handbook provides guidance on rent strike organising, particularly for students, during COVID-19. The wider website provides excellent resources as well.
  • Five rent strikes which changed the game by Dominique Hua for Red Pepper. This article provides an overview of a number of rent struggles. Inspiration for future organising.
  • Coronavirus: Latest Information for Renters by ACORN. For those concerned about their housing during the ongoing pandemic, ACORN have a section providing information.
  • 3 Reasons We Need Tenants Unions by London Renters Union for Novara Media. This article, by one of the leading UK renters unions, provides a number of arguments for organising as tenants.
  • London Housing Struggles Archive by May Day Rooms. This is a slight cheat on our part. Rather than one article, this collection has pieces from radical housing struggles in London across the decades. It is well worth a browse.

Rent – Five Videos

  • #CancelRent by Democracy Now! This report focuses on the emerging rent strikes in the US, and the failure of government officials to protect tenants.
  • The UCL rent strike by Reel Media. A short documentary on the UCL Cut the Rent movement, where students successfully challenged accommodation practices and rent hikes.
  • Rent Strike (1924) by British Pathé. This historic footage of striking renters in Scotland shows just how long tenant organising has been used to build power.
  • The London Anarchist Group Squatting Mansions to Fight Homelessness by VICE. This documentary follows a crew of London anarchists as they organise squats in abandoned properties.
  • Why you can’t afford a home in the UK by the New Economics Foundation. A short video explaining the state of the UK property market, and why so many can’t afford a home.