Campaign group in bid to set up Southend tenants union as eviction amnesty ends

A CAMPAIGN group which fears there will be a tide of evictions in Southend following law changes is bidding to set up a tenants union.

Eviction Resistance staged a demonstration in Southend High Street recently to highlight the possible deluge of evictions now the COVID eviction ban has ended.

The group hopes tenants will unite to form a new branch of the Acorn union to protect tenants.

Louise Calton, spokeswoman for Eviction Resistance said: “It’s clear that Southend Council and local services are doing their best to protect tenants against the huge increase of evictions that are about to happen, but we would really encourage private renters to talk to their neighbours who might be in a similar position.

“Some residents are going to be launching an Acorn branch which is a community union and will give people a voice to stand together and protect each other. I’d encourage all renters in Southend to join.”

Founded in 2014 Acorn is a network of low-income people working for a fairer deal for communities. Southend Council has been working with landlords to try to prevent a surge in evictions with its “call before you serve” project.

The scheme offers support for landlords, help to create a personalised housing plan agreed with the tenant and rent arrears assistance through housing benefit services, government homeless prevention funds and charities.

Anne Jones, councillor responsible for communities and housing, said: “I absolutely support the idea that private tenants come together to form a group or union.

“Some registered social landlords have hybrid models and some communities have bespoke tenant unions unaffiliated to larger tenant unions. Whatever happens a group supporting residents would need to be reflective and understanding of the experiences of tenants and landlords, much of which are fine, but when it isn’t to learn from others to develop a strengths based and a recognisable Southend support model.”

Judith Codarin, secretary to the South Essex Association of Landlords, said: “We urge all landlords to “Call before you Serve”, as housing solutions have talked to SEAL and other landlords to find out what further actions will assist in the prevention of evictions, as we emerge from the effects of this pandemic.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter