Multiple Occupancy Tenants Moving in Edinburgh

Key organizers for ACORN, Jon Black on computer and Keir Lawson speaking

Key organizers for ACORN, Jon Black on computer and Keir Lawson speaking

Edinburgh  I could feel the excitement in the conversations at the steering committee of the Edinburgh Private Tenant Action Group, an affiliate of ACORN International, as they started mapping out a plan to broadly organize the multiple occupancy tenants across the city.  With home ownership an impossibility, many of all ages from students to decades afterwards are in sharing housing units, renting a bedroom, sharing kitchens, and common space to find adequate and affordable housing.  Landlords though have too often had a heyday from these situations and held the whip hand, glad to collect, but deaf to repairs.

            EPTAG was able to secure a list of all of the tenants in multiple occupancy housing where there are three or more tenants sharing a flat, and to their surprise the numbers ranged up to 20000 units.  Even assuming some of the list is bad, that means making a plan to try and move 30,000 people or more to finally seize the opportunity to make repairs and healthy home conditions a real right for all tenants in Edinburgh.   Discussions of a possible partnership with the National Union of Students here as well as in Glasgow and Aberdeen who could join to help do the work in areas where students dominated, while EPTAG and its members concentrated on more diverse tenancy populations was almost overwhelming for the steering committee, but it was hard to deny the excitement of an emerging plan.

            Best, having the ability to go wide with all the tenants, rather than narrow by focusing on one landlord here and another there, or poster landlords that were particularly vile, the ability to work with the list and spread the net wide, meant that EPTAG could target the council, as the key governmental oversight authority, to demand real enforcement of repair requirements and demand real consequences to scofflaw landlords that would try to ignore these demands at their peril.

            With hard work and a bit of luck, the next couple of months could see a major movement of multiple occupancy tenants make some very fundamental changes in balancing the relationship between landlords and tenants in Edinburgh.   It was exciting to watch the plan unfold!

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