‘We won't stand by and watch our members kicked out onto the street’ - community union ACORN vows to help tenants ‘resist’ evictions

Research suggests that hundreds of thousands of people have already been served notices or threatened with eviction

'We won't stand by and watch our members kicked out onto the street’ - union vows to help tenants ‘resist’ evictions (Photo: Abdul Shakoor/Shutterstock)
'We won't stand by and watch our members kicked out onto the street’ - union vows to help tenants ‘resist’ evictions (Photo: Abdul Shakoor/Shutterstock)

A union has said it will “resist evictions where necessary” following the end to the ban on evictions which comes into effect today (1 June) in England

Many experts, including leading charities in the sector, have expressed concern that withdrawing these protections from tenants who are still financially struggling could lead to a rise in destitution and homelessness.

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ACORN, a community union which has branches all over the UK, says it has been preparing to defend against evictions for more than a year, with members going through “eviction resistance training”.

Speaking to NationalWorld, a spokesperson for the union said they “won’t stand by and watch our members be kicked out onto the street”.

They said: “ACORN groups and branches are preparing to stand up for our members and communities and are ready to resist evictions where necessary, as we have done throughout the pandemic.

“We have spent much of the last 15 months or so expanding our eviction resistance training to ensure that as many members and non-members alike are trained up in eviction resistance.

“We have also built Community Protection teams in many areas across the country that consist of local people ready to resist evictions in their community.

“Eviction resistance has been our bread and butter since ACORN was formed and we won't stand by and watch our members be kicked out onto the street."

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‘No two eviction resistance actions are the same’

ACORN is part of a growing movement of grassroots organisations using direct action protest to help support their members, or members of their communities, in various disputes over labour issues like wage-theft or housing-related problems.

In the past, ACORN members have protested outside the homes of landlords who’ve treated members unlawfully, and carried out “communications blockades” on at-fault letting agents, blocking up their phone lines with calls to try and win compensation or deposits back for members.

They have also carried out eviction defences, sometimes barring bailiffs from entering properties through peaceful protest.

A spokesperson for the union told NationalWorld that “no two eviction resistance actions are the same and a successful resistance requires flexibility, but also structure”.

They said: “Successful eviction resistance actions can often be very last minute due to the necessity of having to respond quickly to eviction attempts - being able to mobilise rapidly while also ensuring all vital roles on the day (such as police liaison, landlord liaison, documenter etc) are fulfilled requires confident and trained up members.”

“This is why ACORN's eviction resistance training over the last 15 months or so will be so important in resisting evictions going forward.

They added: “On the day, these eviction resistance actions can vary between extremely quick events which essentially serve to demonstrate to landlords that their tenant is not alone and often this is enough to deter them, to all-day actions that become long standoffs - it is important to be prepared for both."

End to the eviction ban

The ban on eviction in England came into effect last March as the pandemic began, and while the ban was weakened at the start of the year with some evictions going ahead, the vast majority of tenants were protected until today (1 June).

Up to 400,000 people have already been served eviction notices or threatened with eviction, according to the JRF think tank.

Research carried out by YouGov on behalf of JRF also found that more than 1.5 million renters are concerned about paying their rent over the next three months.

They also found that, compared with homeowners, renters are three times more likely to be in arrears with housing costs or bills, and twice as likely to be worried about housing costs or potentially losing their homes.

Campaigners say it is unfair that this form of support is being withdrawn for renters while support measures for homeowners such as the Stamp Duty holiday are still in place, even though renters are struggling more.