As evictions hiatus ends, Solfed launches housing rights primers

On Monday, with remarkably little fanfare, the hiatus in eviction proceedings was ended, allowing courts to issue new notices and bailiffs to start enforcing them.

Cases outstanding prior to March (ie. from before lockdown) are now free to be brought forward, allowing a massive backlog affecting tens of thousands of people to be pushed through the system over the next weeks and months, just in time for the second wave of Covid-19 to hit.

Anarchist groups and grassroots housing organisations have been organising against the process in recent weeks, and the latest of these projects has been the Southampton Solidarity Federation’s update to its excellent Stuff Your Landlord series, designed by the Autonomous Design Group which has been putting out free tenants’ organising campaign posters.

The series of eight-page guides, designed to be printable at home or work, cover Section 21 notices (Freedom has a complementary article here), rent arrears and how to handle harassment by landlords.

Introducing the pamphlets, Southampton Solfed said:

Knowing the law is useful, because when landlords don’t follow it you can use it against them. But most of the time the law isn’t on our side, and we can’t rely on it to make sure we’re treated fairly. While it should be seen as the floor for basic human decency, it’s usually a ceiling.

If you’ve rented, you’ve probably talked with other tenants about how to deal with a dodgy landlord and survive a market stacked in their favour. Maybe you’ve even gone with a fellow tenant to speak to your landlord about a problem. These conversations and actions are the basis of solidarity.

With this in mind, we’ve created guides providing the basics in housing law, and a primer on why we advocate direct action solidarity over the courts. The state has shown that it will only begrudgingly support tenants, extending moratoriums on evictions for short periods and at the last second. We need to know how to fight for ourselves.

The guides offer a good complement to the group’s Renters’ Checklist, and the Advisory Service For Squatters’ recently published Notes For New Squatters.