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The 'Bristol, Cut the Rent!' Rent Strike

This strike is for students living in halls, not private accomodation. Read on for more information:

Who are Bristol, Cut the Rent?

We are a group of students of all years, from first years to postgrads, campaigning to cut the rent in University halls so that everyone has an affordable and decent place to live. 

Why should we cut the rent?

In Bristol especially, the rent in halls is too damn high. The national average of rent in halls is £131 per week, whereas in Bristol halls the average price of rent is £161 per week. Rent has consistently risen by over double the rate of inflation over the last 10 years. Only 1% of beds are at or below half the maximum maintenance loan, which means that the majority of students struggle to pay rent solely from their loans. Many have to get part-time jobs simply to fund the cost of living in halls, and high rents have been scientifically proven to lead to mental health problems. The University has a duty of care over its students, so we are campaigning for the University to uphold this duty and ensure all halls are affordable.

What can we do to cut the rent?

We have handed in a petition to the University demanding that they lower rent in halls along with some action outside of Beacon House. The University have committed to responding to our demands by the 8th March. If they do not commit to meeting our demands, we will escalate the campaign and start organising for a rent strike starting on 24th April, when the last instalment of rent is due to be paid.

What is a rent strike?

Rent strike is a last resort action taken by tenants against their landlords. It is used to create leverage when demands have not been acknowledged or met. Rent strikes occur when tenants come together and refuse to accept minimal standards for maximum rent. Rent strikes largely function as a threat, which highlights the lack of democracy in the current housing systems. By refusing to pay rent, tenants are forcing democracy and fairness into a system that treats them as a commodity. As it is a collective action, a rent strike creates protections from the intimidation of individuals that landlords like to use - there is power and safety in numbers.

What risks are there for me?

Rent strikes are not a protected action in law, as a result there is an element of legal risk. This largely surrounds threats of eviction, country court judgements, as well as possible negative implications on visa extensions and certain job applications.  For more detailed information on the legal risks of rent strikes, please read NUS’ guidance here

Is this strategy effective?

Rent strikes are a highly successful tactic in housing campaigns to get landlords and universities to listen to the demands of the rent strikers. It hits the University where it hurts most; affecting them financially as well as damaging their reputation and standing. In 2016, when the Cut the Rent movement kicked off, rent strikes happened all over the country. In London, over 1000 UCL and Goldsmith’s students went on rent strike and won over £1.5m in rent cuts, compensation, rent freezes, and an increase in accommodation bursaries. A rent strike in the King’s Road accommodation at the University of Sussex led to the University awarding rent strikers £64,000 in compensation. Rent strikes have proven the most effective method of resistance to exploitative landlords across the world; our University sits, without doubt, within that category. 

How do I get involved?

Bristol, Cut the Rent meet every Wednesday 2-4pm in the Multifaith Chaplaincy. We also have a Facebook page where you can keep updated with all our events, as well as a mailing list which you can join here. And most importantly, pledge to strike with your hallsmates! We need all of you to get involved so we can all have the power to push the University to cut the rent! Sign up here .