11h - Rent strikes and rent controls

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  • Massive rent hikes during the Great War in Glasgow lead to first modern British rent strikes and subsequent rent controls.
  • Many strong economies have comprehensive rent controls - the UK has some of the weakest tenants rights in the west.

songs, poems, quotes and stories

  • 'Hey Ho Cook and Rowe' by Peggy Seeger (lyrics and music on main website [here)
  • 'Mrs Barbour's Army' by Alistair Hulett

washing line

  • 1915 Rent strikes - The Glasgow Women’s Housing Association led by Mary Barbour - November 1915 as many as 20,000 tenants were on rent strike and rent strike activity was spreading beyond Glasgow to rest of the country... led to Rent Act 1915
  • Beginning of rent controls - Countries such as Germany balance a large and decent private rental sector with limits on rent increases and long term stability for tenants.
  • Agitation in 1930s led to 1933 Rent Act
  • 1959/60 St Pancras council tenant rent strike
  • Tenant Unions
  • Last rent controls repealed by Thatcher in 80s

Sample Text

So, next thing we move onto is rent strikes. We've already heard how the Irish managed to organise boycotts and win rights around land. The first time modern day rent strikes arrived in the United Kingdom was during the first world war in Glasgow. Glasgow, a big industrial centre. Most men were away fighting, whilst women were flooded into the city in the First World War because there was a lot of demand for their labour. That meant that there was a lot of demand for places to live. So unscrupulous landlords massively hiked up their rents, and the women came together led by Mary Barbour, and as many as 20,000 of them went on a rent strike and this was so significant its effect spread across the whole country and led to the passing of the first rent control legislation in this country.

It's worth noting that rent control is something we could badly do with now, our rental market is totally out of control. The argument against is normally along the lines of 'That will stifle our growth" or "that will ruin our economy." which is codswallop. Some of the most economically successful countries in the world have very comprehensive rent controls and lots of legislation to protect tenants in the rental market. In our country, we have the least amount of protection of almost any 'developed' country, which is an utter disgrace.

looking forward we have a few more rent acts and rent strikes in the 1930s, the 1950s and the 1960s. But the last rent controls were repealed by Thatcher in the 1980s.