This group is open to any housing association tenant or resident who is withholding all or part of their rent or service charge payments. It also has resources for those who considering withholding payment.
SHAC supports tenants and residents who withhold payment in response to a dispute with their landlord, or because they are unable to pay. We have produced a report on the growth and collectivisation of the strike tactic amongst members. The report was published after a survey of our members and we thank all those who took part.
Adam and his neighbours organised and withheld payment over lift and other disrepairs. His story has been an inspiration to many.
- Read our members’ strike group stories here.
- Read our aims here.
- Read Why We Are Here
- Read The Legal Side
The Rent and Service Charge group was set up to:
- coordinate action across landlords;
- provide solidarity and peer support to those taking rent or service charge strikes;
- develop resources such as template letters that strikers can use; and
- focus a campaign raising awareness of the action.
Find Out More
Our video captures an introduction by SHAC on withholding rent or service charge payments.
Generally people withhold payments when all conventional approaches have failed. Attempts by participants to address the issues directly with their landlords, and in some cases through other routes have been futile. One member of the group commented:
“I am in despair as to how to stop these atrocious companies any other way. We’ve experienced diabolical rip-offs, incompetence and lies. They have damaged our lives for years and years. Many thousands of tenants across the sector experience endless failed attempts to get their problem sorted out. We are ground down.
“I honestly can’t see how anything other than withholding money is going to stop them. Even when the Social Housing White Paper is made law, I don’t believe that there is any other way to hold these massive, powerful corporations to account”Group Member
Our members have found that withholding payment is one of the most powerful ways of getting landlords to genuinely engage and resolve issues.
The Legal Side
Withholding payment can be in breach of a tenancy or lease agreement but there are sources of advice and guidance. On the other hand, if you are being asked to pay for goods or services you have not received, the charges are challengeable.
The Leasehold Advisory Service has information on leaseholder entitlements in relation to service charges here. You might also want to see the legislation in relation to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 Section 21 Right to service charge information.
There should be no need for withholding payment to lead to action as extreme as eviction, provided the tenant can pay the landlord what they owe.
For a start, legal action is a lengthy process. The timeframe would allow a tenant to decide whether they wanted to remove any grounds for eviction by paying up, or whether they wanted to make a stand with support from SHAC and other housing campaign groups.
Before going to court, there would need to be a series of letters threatening legal action against the tenant. The court process itself takes time. Even if a court orders repossession, there is another time gap while bailiffs are being instructed. Eviction is not an instant action that could catch anyone out.
Landlords can only take action after 8 weeks of arrears, so one option would be that the tenant would pay as much as needed to bring them under 8 weeks arrears. Another option would be to pay all the amount owed. Both would prevent the landlord taking legal action.
The second possibility is that the landlord threatens action, and the tenant decides they want to make a stand. This is one of the points of our group. The tenant wouldn’t be standing alone, but would have SHAC and the wider housing movement behind them. We would mount a massive campaign in support of any tenants facing a legal threat.
Another question is how likely it is that the landlord will take legal action. Interestingly, despite the enormous resources and power at the disposal of landlords, none have yet made a threat to do so. We assume that this is because landlords know that if they take a tenant to court, they would have to justify their behaviour. They clearly don’t want to have to do this.