Bristol City Council looks set to become the first Local Authority in the country to introduce an ‘ethical lettings charter’ when the matter is discussed at a Bristol City Council Cabinet meeting tonight. The Mayor is set to make a final decision on the matter, following months of campaigning from community based union ACORN, who are fighting to protect the rights for those who rent across Bristol.
The voluntary scheme, which enables participating landlords and agents to achieve a bronze, silver or gold charter mark, is hoping to gain official endorsement from the Council. Councillors have already pledged their support for the scheme, unanimously voting for it at a Full Council meeting in March after a motion was submitted by the Green group of councillors.
‘The Ethical Lettings Charter is a great opportunity for Bristol to establish itself as a city leading the way in its support for private tenants’ said Community Organiser from ACORN, Nick Ballard. ‘The Charter is the product of hundreds of hours of community consultation and activism by ACORN members and crucially, stands as a grassroots response to Bristol’s housing crisis from those most affected’ he continued.
Housing campaigner and Green Councillor, Anna McMullen, will be asking the Mayor tonight to ensure that the scheme is not just approved, but also properly publicised and supported. ‘It’s absolutely right that those who rent should be able to check whether future landlords provide a good service and well maintained properties’ she said. ‘To transform the rights of those renting, we also need to make sure the scheme is well rolled out and publicised’ she continued. ‘That is why I am asking the Mayor to write to all letting agencies and landlords to promote the standard as well as just endorsing it.’
‘The ethical lettings charter is an important first step towards improving housing rights and provision for Bristol residents’ added Daniella Radice, Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods. ‘We know that more and more people have to live in the private rented sector with high rents and poor quality accommodation’ she continued. ‘This is why we also fully endorse the suggestion in Bristol’s Housing strategy that the council should establish its own private rented sector company or trust to provide good quality accommodation. This has been successfully demonstrated in Birmingham’.
ACORN’s Community Organiser, Nick Ballard, concluded, ‘The housing crisis is national in scope and any attempt to tackle it must place tenant organisations at the forefront. ACORN is leading the way in providing grassroots and tenant-led action on this issue. An increasing numbers of letting agents and landlords already want to sign up. With interest coming in from around the country, we expect the Mayor to take full advantage of this opportunity to put Bristol on the map and to encourage other Local Authorities to replicate what has been achieved here.’
For more information on ACORNs work and the ethical lettings charter see: http://www.acorncommunities.org.uk/