Sometimes the determination of a community can amaze you. This week, we saw such a determined group of renters in Redvales – a large housing estate in Bury, Greater Manchester. Families and friends that go back generations. Last February, the residents found that they had a new landlord and that their rent would increase with only four weeks’ notice. Some residents said they would see their rents increased by over 60%. It would have a huge impact on individuals and the whole community.
For many tenants, the news would put them at risk of homelessness, debt and eviction. Things looked bleak.
We met *Mary and she told us about the stress she was under, worried about her health and future. The proposed increase was an additional £220. Mary is 75 and on a pension. She asked us “where am I supposed to go? I have lived here for over 50 years and have spent thousands over the years renovating my home”.
But the community in Redvales didn’t feel defeated. They came together, determined to fight for their homes. The community demanded that the landlord reviewed the proposal in light of their concerns.
They brought together local media and got their voices heard and their story out there. They contacted their local political leaders and made sure what was happening was on their agenda.
The team at Shelter Greater Manchester became aware of the growing concern and so we reached out to the residents. We provided them with information on their rights and pledged to support their campaign in any way we could. The campaign grew on social media adding more pressure to the landlord to listen. Despite the landlord meeting with elected members, the plans remained unchanged.
On Monday 28 June, the community organised a public meeting on the estate, to which Shelter were invited. It was clear from the outset: this was a united community standing together against social injustice. You might even call them… humanitarian fighters.
The Shelter team met with over 200 residents and local business owners. They’re concerned that the rent increase will bring about a significant reduction in disposal income, forcing people to leave the community and causing a knock-on effect to the local economy.
Metro mayor, Andy Burnham and local councillors joined Shelter in supporting this community to campaign for change. Their MP, James Daly supported the campaigners showing cross-party unity for their cause. Actor Gemma Atkinson, from the area, shared their petition.
With such a strong campaign, it was clear the community would not back down. That evening came the breakthrough news that we were all fighting for.
The landlord called and said they were dropping their plans.
They promised the community there would be no sudden rent increase. And anything that is to come later would be affordable against Local Housing Allowance rates, properly assessed and used for the upkeep of the properties. The residents rejoiced when they got the news. This had been their fight and they had won it.
Today Greater Manchester is facing a housing emergency. Over 98,000 individuals and families are on housing waiting lists. Over 3000 families are in insecure temporary accommodation. This rent hike would have increased the scale of this emergency, and so we celebrate that the residents have won this battle. We also look forward to seeing the new plans that will ensure this community continues to thrive.
Of course, Shelter is here to stay and we will continue to support the residents in making sure the landlords stick to their promises. We also want to ensure the landlords sort any upkeep work that the residents need.
We have written to the landlords on behalf of the residents and asked they now work with, not against, this inspiring community. The people of Redvales, like us all, have gone through a challenging year. But when faced with a new threat to the right to a home, they’ve also shown us all how the fight for home can be won. Now we need to win it across the whole country.
Here is June who expressed her devastation at the thought of losing her home.