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Manchester Solidarity Federation Concluded Its Dispute With Fortis Student Lettings

Manchester Solidarity Federation concluded its dispute with Fortis Student Lettings in July. The dispute ended positively with the four tenants involved receiving a total of £832.00 in compensation. We have delayed issuing this statement until after confirmation of the compensation payments.

Before our involvement, the four tenants' complaints had been ignored; they found themselves being passed from pillar to post; their efforts to speak directly to Fortis managers were invariably met with claims that the person was not available; in some cases, these overseas students were met with what could most kindly be described as insulting claims by Fortis staff that they cannot could not understand them.

Housing Union: Holding deposits

Holding deposits

In summary:

Holding deposits shouldn’t be described as ‘deposits’ if the agency considers the fee you are paying to be non-refundable

Brighton Solfed Housing Union: Harassment

Harassment

Harassment is illegal

If your landlord is harassing you, it’s potentially a criminal offence. Examples of harassment include:

Brighton Solfed Housing Union: rent increases

Increasing your rent

If your contract has a procedure for increasing rent then your landlord must follow it. In a fixed-term tenancy agreement (i.e. a six month or one year contract), your landlord can only put the rent up at the end of the fixed term, and you are allowed to try and negotiate the amount. You can reject the rent increase and your tenancy will continue at the original rent on a rolling, month-to-month contract, though this may mean that your landlord begins eviction proceedings against you.

Brighton Solfed Housing Union: Disrepair

Disrepair

In summary:

  • Your landlord is responsible for the structure and exterior of the house (including drains, gutters and external pipes)
  • Your landlord is responsible for the water, gas and electricity supply, as well as for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary facilities)
  • Your landlord is responsible for making sure that the heating and water supply are safe and working

Brighton Solfed Housing Union: Right to Rent

Right to Rent

In summary:

  • Hostels and refuges are exempt from right to rent checks
  • If your documents show that you are legally allowed to stay in the UK for a limited period of time, the landlord must allow the tenancy anyway even if the documents allow a stay in the UK that expires before the tenancy would end
  • Landlord’s may not do a follow up check if the documents you have shown do not indicate a legal time limit on your stay in the UK

THE PROTEST AGAINST FORTIS STUDENT LETTING AGENCY CONTINUES!

Monday 18 June saw Manchester Solidarity Federation join tenants in a protest outside Fortis Student Letting in Altrincham, Greater Manchester. The protest is the latest event in a long running campaign being organised by the tenants because of the appalling conditions in the Fortis run building, where they are living. Throughout their stay, Fortis have refused to carry out even the most basic maintenance of the building. The tenants went weeks without water, months without heating and had to live in rooms covered with mould.  On one occasion, water poured through a ceiling light fitting for weeks, with Fortis making no attempt to repair it. This was despite numerous complaints by tenants.

The Property Shop Pay Up! A tenant successfully fights back against deposit theft

In October 2017, Brighton Solidarity Federation was organising with a tenant who was facing a £344 deduction from their deposit after moving out of a house administered by the lettings agency The Property Shop in Kemptown. The tenant approached Brighton SolFed for support to organise a public campaign against this, which concluded successfully with full replayment to the tenant after around one month of actions. Below, the tenant tells the story of their experience of this situation, as well as of the public campaign.

 

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