Bristol students to take part in socially distanced march on Bristol landlord

Students will hand deliver a letter to the directors of a Bristol-based property company

Students at The University of Bristol will take part in the UK’s first socially distanced march, as part of a day of action calling for a local property company to show greater leniency to tenants at this time of uncertainty.

The march is part of wider action during which students are being urged to pepper First Step Homes with calls and emails between 13:00-1500.

The event has been organised by prolific student activist group Bristol, Cut the Rent (BCTR) who six months ago won £130,000 worth of rent cuts in halls.

Landlords and property companies have taken different approaches during the coronavirus outbreak.

Digs wrote to tenants reminding them that the next instalment of rent was due and should be paid in full, while Penlane slashed their rent by 50 per cent.

The SU also drafted a letter for students to use to call for landlords to show leniency and provide rent cuts and contract releases due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Today’s march will involve hand delivering a letter to the directors of First Step Homes, the property development company who get Digs to manage their properties. They have no contact with their tenants, nor have anything to do with maintaining the properties.

All participants will be strictly adhering to government guidance on social distancing.

The event information explains that the company “hold £16 million pounds in investment properties, have £600,000 in the bank and carried forward profits of over £8 million last year.

“Despite this they are claiming that their company ‘cannot afford’ to negotiate contract releases or rent cuts for student tenants who have been forced to leave their properties and are unable to use them due to Covid-19.”

It continues: “The government advice is now that student tenants and landlords should be negotiating no-penalty contract releases; but First Step Homes are refusing to budge.”

BCTR have also provided a phone script and email template which students can use when calling the First Step Homes Directors.

The phone script concludes:

We are all in this together. It is time to show kindness towards one another, so I urge you to do the socially responsible thing and start negotiating with your tenants- many of whom are scarcely older than teenagers- in allowing rent reductions and contract releases. Other landlords across the UK are doing this- please follow suit.

-Hang up-