Are you a tenant in Shire Dorset facing eviction? Are you just a tenant and roundly pissed off with the vast expense and personal trauma it involves with basically fuck all protection of your tenure? 

A new group called Acorn the Union – Dorset has formed in Dorset that aims to help those in shit and for those who aren’t yet, get boots on the ground to support all of us. 

I can’t – we can

An old saying about human nature is ‘I can’t – we can!’ We’re a tribal species. We work better together than we do solo. Yes, ‘no man is an island’ – a sexist term as no person of any other gender is either. Collectively we as a species work better when we have mates who care and help us out. I found that helping my ex build our daughter’s bunkbed the other week – her brains were at least as useful as my brawn!

Where it comes to renting the law is a fucking minefield. A complete bog where you would be up to your neck in shit one moment and on solid ground the next with no real idea where the pits are and the ankle deep muck is. This is where getting in a group of fellow renters can help – different people will have different experiences and knowledge and can give each other tips as to how to deal with it. 

Evictions and COVID

One of the few mainstream media newspapers I actually bother reading is the Independent. The other week it reported that there are to be no evictions of tenants until 20th September. You may be aware of that but if you’re an ordinary woman or man with rent arrears there’s going to be a bit longer than that to wait before the bailiffs come into your house and turf you out. 

The Indy reported“the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, said: “I know this year has been challenging and all of us are still living with the effects of Covid-19. That is why today I am announcing a further four-week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for six months. 

“I am also increasing protections for renters – six-month notice periods must be given to tenants, supporting renters over winter.

“However, it is right that the most egregious cases, for example those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse perpetrators, begin to be heard in court again; and so when courts reopen, landlords will once again be able to progress these priority cases.”

If you haven’t been beating your spouse or kids or been using your home as a crack den then you should be ok, and the courts won’t be prioritising your case until the backlog of hard cases has been dealt with. And yes, even if you are a ‘hard case’ we won’t turn you away.

What does this mean? It could be three months before the court even hears your case then cannot chuck you out for six months after that. That takes you into next summer to sort your act out. If you’ve been very naughty and the court isn’t happy with you then you could be out a lot quicker. 

What you can do immediately

In researching this article I hit on a brilliant set of web pages on the Citizens Advice website. It’s clear – to a point. 

What it told me is that tenancy law is like playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey, blindfolded and naked in a minefield. Luck as much as judgement will get you through intact. 

At every stage of the eviction process the Citizens Advice website states for you to get in touch with them. The old saying, ‘he who represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer’. The CAB are brilliant and I’d not disagree with that advice at all. They are overloaded just now as the Tories have done everything in their decade of despotism to fuck up the poor person’s ability to defend themselves against the ruling classes. There is no doubt they will be overloaded even more in the coming months. 

Another important lot to get in touch with is the housing charity Shelter

As a final move you can join the Acorn Tenants Support Group on Facebook. Union membership not essential. 

My advice as someone who’s had not a few fights for survival? Get as many decent people on your team as you can and then use their skills to rip throats out!

How can Acorn the Union help?

We are not housing advisors. 

We are campaigners

Acorn the Union in Shire Dorset are a bunch of renters and people who care about tenancy law and the situation that renters face. There are a few of us (myself included) who are part of the lefty movement and can throw together an effective campaign in a few hours that can cause the ruling classes bowel problems in just a few weeks. 

That doesn’t have to be you, and if honest us hardcore brick throwers don’t actually want to end up running the organisation – we want you lot to run it and to just reach out to us to advise you as to how best to hit those bourgeoise/kulak landlords so hard in the bollocks they can’t speak at a lower tone than Kate Bush’s high note for the next six months. We want to be a fly in their haemorrhoids ointment. 

At our last meeting we threw around some ideas as to how we can make a mess of things:• Rent strikes. If no private tenant in Weymouth or Bridport or Dorchester (or all three) refused to pay their rent for six months the bastards couldn’t exactly evict 40% of the towns could they?• Bailiff support teams. In Luton I knew a bunch who turned up to any bailiffs eviction and ganged up on the bailiffs. It worked too. The police rarely had the resources to sort it out. • Mass meetings and shared education. Yes, the less informed you are the easier it is to evict you or mess with you – the better informed you are the harder it is for the kulaks/ruling classes to beat you. • Soft campaigns like lobbying, petitions and recruiting to the union. • And yes, ultimately when we reach some decent numbers, shared knowledge and passive housing advice to avoid the stress of eviction in the first place. 

You may have other ideas too, and as a democratic organisation as long as it doesn’t involve sitting on our arses debating what biscuits to have at the next meeting we’d love to hear from you!

Unions are useless?

Oh yes, this crap about unions being useless Orwellian pigs who do nothing that will rock the boat?

During lockdown my union gave a New York client the hairdryer treatment and got $1,000 in unpaid invoices out of them. I survived a personal financial disaster thanks to the economy imploding as a result of the pandemic. I think they should give Pamela Moreton a sainthood. 

There are crap unions. There are people in their leaderships who have forgotten who they represent and like much of the Labour Party head office have forgotten they are there to represent anyone but themselves. 

Acorn’s not like that. We’re closer to Extinction Rebellion than we are to some dinosaur union that does fuck all for its members. Ultimately, as we get our numbers up over 100 (the minimum to become a branch) we will be more useful than a turd on your shoe. We’ll help you throw that turded shoe at the landlord so they stink not you!

OK, so where we sign up?

Your first step will be to sign up to Acorn the Union – Dorset on Facebook. It only takes a Like and a Follow – easy enough!

We want you to join the national union via their website here

I have gone a bit off script here – we are however a pretty good bunch who fight like mad dogs for tenants’ rights and the welfare of our members. Call your membership fee an insurance policy!

See you at the barricades – or preferably at the next Zoom meeting so we can have your input as to where to erect those barricades and share advice as to handle the tear gas!!!

Richard Shrubb

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