Housing issues- tenants now have local voice

Neil O' Warne one of the founders of the Hastings Tenants Union
Neil O' Warne one of the founders of the Hastings Tenants Union

A group of local renters are launching a Tenants Union which they hope will improve some of the issues which many tenants in the town are facing.

Founder member Neil O’Warne says the inspiration for the union was based on his and other group member’s personal experiences of landlord and housing problems in Hastings and St Leonards and led to the formation of the Hastings Tenants Union (HTU) which will seek to provide a voice for all renters, private, council and social, across the borough.

Mr O’Warne conducted an on-line survey of a hundred local tenants and one result was that one in 10 don’t have a written contract and is one of the issues HTU could help with. He said: “Rather than providing a service to tenants, HTU is a self-organised group that is run on a voluntary basis by the tenants themselves, giving individuals the confidence to deal with rogue landlords by working together with other people in the same situation to resolve problems with repairs, lost deposits and threats of eviction. The group takes a common sense approach, sharing experience and legal knowledge.”

Mr O’Warne said many tenants who completed the on-line survey struggled to get landlords to deal with damp, leaks or put a lock on the door, adding: “Everyone’s got a story to tell and it dawned on me that many renters have experienced problems and maybe if we stick together we could probably enforce action. We hope that HTU will make a long overdue improvement in the standard of the rented housing sector.”

Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd has been working with landlords and says it is encouraging that they agree that they can deliver better quality properties in Hastings, adding: “Our private rental sector is a vital asset and it is completely fair and reasonable that we root out the minority of rogue landlords who give it a bad name.”

The launch of HTU is at Southwater Community Centre, Wednesday, February 25, 7.30pm. Email: Hastings.Tenants.Union@gmail.com.