We went to the day of action to support our friends in Dorchester Court who have been treated dreadfully by their landlord Manaquel. Tenants spoke out about how they have been served Section 21 eviction notices and told they would be kicked out of the homes they’d lived in for years within three months if they didn’t accept rent increases of over £400 a month. We were also told that the landlord’s refusal to carry out maintenance and repairs meant that tenants had put in huge amounts of energy and money to make their homes habitable and then many had been evicted with all the benefits from this work going to Manaquel. Other tenants told us that Manaquel had demanded that the building management tell them who were the “ringleaders” of the tenants organisation so that they could evict them. Tenants told us that these were their homes and their community but Manaquel only saw them as a means of raking up money.
Whilst lots of tenants came out to join in the day of action, some others stayed indoors, which given the level of intimidation from Manquel and private tenants’ lack of security is not surprising. It was, however, inspirational to see many tenants’ bravery in resisting Manquel’s abusive and exploitative treatment of them despite the very real threat of retaliatory eviction and the development of solidarity between them.
More generally, the brave actions by Dorchester Court tenants show that there is a real capacity for tenants on estates or in blocks who all have the same landlords to resist and exercise collective power regardless of the scant legal protections that private tenants have. We have seen tenants in Chapman House in Tower Hamlets organise against evictions and only this week SOAS students living in cockroach infested halls have gone on rent strike. As one of the Dorchester Court tenants said, if the tenants act together they can defeat Manaquel and resist evictions and rent rises and get vital repairs done.