David Pay, the owner of Youngs estate agent in the Kemptown area of Brighton, assaulted a member of Brighton Solidarity Federation during a picket in support of a tenant facing a eviction because he asked his landlord to do repairs.
On Saturday 19th May we undertook a picket of Youngs estate agency in Kemptown, as part of our ongoing campaign in support of a tenant, Patrick, who is being evicted by one of their landlords because he asked for necessary repairs to his flat to be undertaken, and because he demanded payment, as agreed, for repair work he had already done.
Before the picket began, we entered the shop to inform the owner, David Pay, that the picket would be taking place, and to give him the opportunity to open negotiations toward a settlement of the dispute. Had he done so, we would have postponed the picket, as we explained to him. Instead of entering into dialogue, however, Mr Pay proceeded to physically assault one of our members, as can be seen in the video below. Mr Pay went on to attempt a second assault not long after this one.
From the outset of our campaign, we have been clear with Youngs and with Mr Pay that we would like to resolve this situation amicably. At the beginning of the campaign, we delivered a letter to Youngs, outlining the grievance of the tenant in question, describing the ways in which the situation could be remedied, inviting Youngs to open a dialogue with the tenant and ourselves toward such a resolution, and giving them two weeks to do so.
They chose not to, meaning that we commenced our campaign, informing the public about Youngs' mistreatment of this tenant. Since then, we have offered Youngs the opportunity to open negotiations after each public action we have taken. We have also provided extensive evidence in the form of emails, photos, and relevant legislation for our claims. Nonetheless, Youngs have refused to productively engage with the issue.
Recently, we also extended our campaign to Halls Estate Agents, whose owners are the landlords of Youngs' office in Kemptown. We are demanding that Halls either evict Youngs from their office because of their negligence, or pressure them to find a resolution to this situation. So far, Halls have declined to do either. We presented the video evidence of the assault to Youngs, Halls, and the landlord of the property in question earlier this week, and again invited them to open negotiations toward an amicable settlement to this dispute, explaining that we were concerned by this recent development and that the matter needs resolving as a matter of urgency. Nonetheless, all three have declined to enter into negotiations.
That David Pay is willing to assault someone supporting a tenant exercising his basic right to safe accommodation tells you everything you need to know about his and Youngs' attitude toward tenants. That Halls and the landlord are willing to support him does, too. However, ourselves and Patrick will not be bullied out of taking action to ensure that Patrick has safe and secure accommodation and that he is compensated for the work he has done. Solidarity amongst those in insecure housing is stronger than the petty despotism of an estate agent on the back foot.
If you're concerned by this incident, you can contact Youngs on 01273 626258, or by email at [email protected]. If you want to stay in touch with the campaign and support future actions, send an email to [email protected] to request to join our mailing list.
Originally posted on the Brighton Solfed Facebook page.
Thanks for the info about
Thanks for the info about these actions that Brighton Solfed are taking against landlords at the moment. I did wonder about a couple of things that are in this report. Hopefully these questions won’t come over as being too critical or negative.
It seems that you might be able to use the video clip of the assault to your advantage but I’m not sure of the positive benefits of showing one of your members on the back foot and being shoved into a chair. Is it really an image of resistance or one of victimisation?
Also, I was wondering about the practice of Solfed putting themselves in the position of negotiators and representatives? I don’t mean this question to be too critical, I just wanted to ask about how you see that tactic developing into a wider strategy? Would you also get involved in court cases with tenants against landlords for instance?
This recent account on their
This recent account on their website from someone who won back a deposit might help to answer the question about representation a bit:
This assault should be
This assault should be reported to the police.
rat wrote: Thanks for the
I can attempt to answer these in personal capacity, but I'm not personally involved in running these cases. So I'm answering stuff in general, rather than with regard to this specific case - for that reason I'm going to avoid the first question.
Solfed explicitly won't take on a case where the worker onr tenant isn't directly involved, and all cases are very much led by the person involved, so I think this avoids some of these problems. We will develop a strategy alongside the tenant in question, and go about the campaign alongside the worker - we don't enter into negotiations with the landlord - apart from them.
The demand us formulated alongside the tenant, and then collectively delivered to the landlord (or their agent), which makes it harder for the individual to be singled out or bullied. But what we don't do is represent the worker like a mainstream union would - so we won't make decisions without their involvement (and conversely, if they were not engaging we wouldnt do a campaign on their behalf, we are not a service).
Obviously there is a certain level of specialism that hardened members will develop over time, and it is something that needs to be kept in mind - I think there is often a natural tendency to fall into the trap of leaving stuff to the experts for "practical" reasons. This isn't something we're perfect at avoiding, but I think we've done a pretty good job in general. Lots of members were historically very influenced by stuff like LCAP and SeaSol, so the urge to avoid being a service organization runs very deep.
No, we are very clear from day 1 what our strategy is and why this doesn't fit in with it. Similarly, we don't do stuff like going to the ombudsman or disputes via Deposit Protection Schemes.
However, on occasions where people have wanted to go down this route, while we'd argue against it tactically, we've wished them luck and sign posted to the best of our ability how they'd go about these processes, and often individual members might give advice. But we're clear that we are an anarcho-syndicalist organisation, and that this isn't what we do.