Brixton branch of Foxtons hires bouncers for rents protest

Written by on April 30, 2013 in Community, Housing, News, Uncategorized - 12 Comments
Protesters and security guards outside Foxtons

Protesters and security guards outside Foxtons

Estate agents Foxtons hired two security guards on Saturday as protestors in Brixton campaigned outside against high rents.

Private tenants and members of the campaign group ‘Let Down’ undertook a ‘Community Housing Inspection’ in Brixton, visiting Eden Harper, Foxtons and Haart to question their charges and practices as part of a London-wide day of action against high rents and letting agents’ fees.

While staff at Eden Harper were willing to answer the group’s questions, Brixton new-comers Foxtons had hired private security guards to prevent the campaigners entering their office.

When asked whether a member of Foxtons’ staff would come out to speak to the group, the protesters were told that no one from the lettings team was available, despite the group returning later in the afternoon. The protest ended with the protesters staging an ‘awards ceremony’ outside Foxtons, presenting them with a certificate for being ‘Brixton’s worst letting agent’, accused of ‘high fees, high rents, cowardly behaviour, and services to gentrification’, and ‘celebrating’ with party poppers, bubbly and a performance of a specially-written song.

Protesters present Foxtons with 'worst letting agent' certificate

Protesters present Foxtons with ‘worst letting agent’ certificate

Campaigner Daniel Oldfield said: “Despite the dismal state of our economy and the relentless cuts, rents keep rocketing up and letting agents are making things worse. They often actively advise landlords to put up rents and charge all kinds of fees, most of which have only emerged in the last few years in the so called ‘competitive’ marketplace.

“Short-term tenancies suit them because then people have to keep moving paying fees to renew them. This lack of security especially hurts families because children who move around a lot are more likely to struggle at school. Perhaps worst of all, hardly any privately rented rooms are available to young people on benefits, directly making more people homeless.”

The private tenancy sector has grown in the last few years, as chronic underinvestment in social housing, the poor economic climate and an overcrowded housing market have meant that fewer people are able to access social housing or buy a house, and the number of buy-to-let landlords has soared. In particular, the proportion of families with children renting privately has rapidly increased.

The day of action was part of a London-wide campaign, which demands lower rents, an end to fees for tenants (which are illegal in Scotland), proper regulation of letting agents, no discrimination against people on housing benefit, and longer and more secure tenancies.

About the Author

Tim Dickens is co-founder of Brixton Blog

12 Comments on "Brixton branch of Foxtons hires bouncers for rents protest"

  1. robert July 14, 2013 at 9:10 am · Reply

    Foxtons has a very simple business model when it comes to letting…attract the landlords, get the best property available and then rip tenants off. They do business in a simple way…screw people as much as possible and when the regulator steps in….pay the fine but who cares. no one likes them. everybody knows that they are ridiculous expensive but unfortunately….they have some decent properties.

  2. Ben Goodstein May 2, 2013 at 11:33 am · Reply

    What the letting agents can do, and absolutely should be regulated on, is the amount they charge tenants for checks, fees, renegotiations and contract renewals. I’ve seen them charge upwards of £200 to print off a new contract that’s unchanged apart from the dates. And they’ve managed to get that wrong. Being strangled by greedy landlords is one thing (I don’t suppose their mortgages are spiralling the same way) but being daylight robbed by these ridiculous charges is another.

  3. ExBrixtonite May 2, 2013 at 9:21 am · Reply

    As per usual another demonstration by people who don’t think about the wider picture and only care about what’s happening in their own little fifedom. Having worked for Foxtons (and other agents) I can genuinely say that they are probably the best of a bad bunch and actively encouarge staff to adhere to high standards of service. The problem here is not estate agents but the government. Imagine if all letting was controlled by government agencies rather than letting agents, nobody would ever get housing and those that did would surely complaing about the lack of quality of the housing.

    And let’s remember high letting rates are a an effect of a stuttering economy as people don’t have the confidence or expendible income to get out there and buy something. Blame those in power that caused this problem not those that do the best they can with a poor situation

  4. sw9ld May 1, 2013 at 9:31 pm · Reply

    Trying to hassle estate agents isn’t going to change anything as they’re not the ones to blame. If more homes aren’t built then rents and house prices are going to rise. It’s a simple reality. Lobby the government if you want to make a change.

  5. Stephen Thorpe May 1, 2013 at 7:28 pm · Reply

    yes it was Thatcher, who changed laws to allow rich people to rip poor people off. Thatcher loved rich people and detested the working class, she was a very bigotted woman, some idiot made a TV programme saying she was pro-working class…just shows how more wealthy people can rewrite history to confuse people. Best bet to lower rents, is to demand a reinstatement of a Fair Rent Act. Dont vote Tory or Lib Dem for a start. Hassle the Labour Party MP on the issue and get a National Demonstration going…lots of support out there

  6. I live up Brixton hill May 1, 2013 at 11:51 am · Reply

    This is wrong-headed. The way to get rents down in London, the south east—in Britain overall—is not by annoying estate agents in Brixton, but by building more houses. If you have a growing population and not enough houses, then those houses become more valuable. That’s precisely why rents are going up. Certainly, Foxtons and the others are pretty revolting, but blaming them, or yuppies, or gentrification or whatever for rising prices is just lazy. The problem is not caused by them, though they do profit from it.

    To recap then: Britain + lots of people + not enough houses = high prices.

  7. Who April 30, 2013 at 9:24 pm · Reply

    YUPPIES OUT!

  8. Pam Robinson April 30, 2013 at 7:52 pm · Reply

    The high rents ‘Marketable Rents’ are the result of the abolition of the Fair Rent Act in 1988 but the Tory Government led by Thatcher. Along with the buy to let scheme, housing associations, they started off with 50% government funding which was to be reduced to nil over years. Plus the right to buy scheme with money gained not being allowed to be used to replace the social housing lost as a result. A ‘Marketable Rents’ are led by the market in other words what landlords think/or can charge and get away with in any given area. It will also have been responsible for millions in housing benefit going to landlords which was previously controlled by the Fair Rent Act

  9. AreaCodes April 30, 2013 at 11:29 am · Reply

    Foxtons haven’t caused this problem of a housing shortage, but there’s something horribly arrogant about the way they do business. It leaves a bitter taste with so many people struggling.

Trackbacks for this post

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  3. Brixton branch of Foxtons hires bouncers for rents protest | Protest Watch

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