On Saturday 23rd September, we hosted our first community event for private tenants: ‘Renting, Venting and Change’.
The event brought together private tenants from around Scotland, with a range of different experiences – good and bad – to share stories, identify common issues, learn about upcoming changes and chat to other tenants about how to transform renting for the better.
Private tenants were key to the development of the event; it was delivered in partnership with Living Rent – Scotland’s tenant union, and had input from Shelter Scotland’s Private Tenant Panel in every step of the process – from planning to marketing and speaking and taking photos on the day.
One of our private tenant panel members, Gerry, started the day off for us with a great introduction to private renting. One of his points was a recurring theme throughout the day:
“Sometimes it feels like landlords and letting agents have all the power; but with great power comes great responsibility”
Or at least it should, anyway.
Renters told us private renting is not a normal consumer relationship – renting is not just a business interaction, it’s the provision of a home and this should be recognised for the important role it plays. Becky (Living Rent) and Duncan (another Private Tenant Panel member) were then interviewed about their renting experiences and what had motivated them to help get renters’ voices heard by policymakers.
In the workshop sessions, tenants discussed some of the frequent problems which come up for renters, how these might be solved and what barriers need to come down to solve issues in the long term. Another session covered the new Private Residential Tenancy which will be introduced from December of this year, a change which represents an important advancement of private tenants’ rights. We were also given the opportunity to hear about alternatives to the mainstream via Leon who talked about the experiences of setting up Glasgow Student Housing Co-op.
Finishing off the day, Becky talked us all through setting up a campaign and Living Rent’s experiences of this – including how to get the media’s attention, and Zakia from Invisible Cities and Social Bite rounded it all off emphasising the importance of communities.
Really, that’s one of our aims at Shelter Scotland – we want to help build a community of private renters, to help present a strong, united voice of private tenants to affect real change in policy. There’s a way to go yet – but Saturday was another step along this road.
A HUGE thanks to all the tenants who helped in the production of the event, as well as everyone who came along on the day to speak, listen and learn – change has started but much more is yet to come!