The head of a lettings agency has refused to sign a pledge document put to him by a protest group - and as a result, his agency office was the scene of a demonstration on Saturday.
The Acorn tenants’ campaign group has been active in Bristol for some years, and was this time targeting the offices of the Lets Rent and Liv n Let agency.
As reported on Letting Agent Today several times, the Acorn group has held protests outside different agency offices in Bristol in the past.
Local media reports cite a tenant - who is not named - as saying the agency “simply ignored his complaints that the property needed improving.”
However the agency owner, Adil Ayab, has denied the accusations and has issued this statement to the local media:
"It had been bought to my attention that Acorn had raised some concerns. As a responsible business owner I contacted the organisation proactively and finally managed to arrange a meeting so that we can discuss these.
“Eventually the meeting was agreed, when I met eight of their members to discuss their concerns. After 20 minutes into the meeting it was then established that Acorn did not have any specific concerns that they wanted to bring to my attention other than testimonials and supposed claims. I realised that the purpose of this meeting wasn’t in fact to raise any specific concerns but to get me to sign an agreement or else a series of protests will be launched against my organisation.
"I was demanded to sign the agreement before I had left the meeting. I insisted that I’d be given a week in order to go over the agreement so that we can have our governing bodies and also a legal representative have a look at this.
“After being pressured to why I couldn’t sign it now, I raised some concerns with the contents of the agreement which Acorn then said they are happy to make immediate amendments or at least by the following morning.
"After raising my points, they deliberated and then said we will give 48 hours to sign the demands instead of me to sign it now. We live in a country which has its own law of the land, we already follow a code of practice and housing is already policed by the local authorities.
“I was more than happy to open dialogue with the organisation and even agreed that as a responsible letting agent I feel some suggestions can in fact be incorporated to the way we do business.
“It’s a shame that they decided to use hardhanded tactics. Prior to hearing of this organisation Lets Rent already had in place a 24/7 repair reporting system in 52 different languages which also provides specific timeframes for urgent and non urgent repairs. We have always welcomed any organisation's views and opinions ultimately our priorities lie in engaging directly with our tenants and landlords."
Local press outlets quote an Acorn spokesperson as saying: “We presented our demands that the companies improve their practices, fix outstanding repairs, issue inventories as standard and compensate Acorn members who have experienced poor conditions and unsatisfactory waiting times for repairs.
“The director would not sign our demands on the spot, but has said he will consider them and speak to other decision makers.”
You can see a video of the protest on this local media report from Bristol.