Housing campaigners claim victory over banking giant through street protest 


Immediate victory for Living Rent: Santander admits error on high rent mortgage clause 

HOUSING JUSTICE CAMPAIGNERS have won an immediate victory by calling protests against corporate greed and high rents at Santander bank this weekend. (Saturday 18 February)

Activists from Living Rent in Scotland and Acorn in England planned simultaneous demos at Santander branches over a legal clause so landlords hiked “maximum” rents from cash strapped tenants. 

The pressure and growing negative publicity towards the bank has won an immediate victory – with Santander confirming to CommonSpace that the clause in question will now be removed from its mortgage contracts. 

Planned protests, in the context of sky-high rent increases, said the mortgage contract clause encourages extortionate costs to make mortgage payments – despite Santander announcing over six billion euros in profit for 2016

“Santander’s lust for profit above all else is making it harder for tenants to afford a home.” Acorn

Acorn originally called out the clause, announcing protests across England: “Buried deep in Santander’s buy-to-let mortgage contracts is a hidden term that forces landlords to ‘get written advice from a qualified valuer’ and ‘take all steps to ensure that [it] leads to the maximum increase in the rent which can reasonably be achieved’.

“With tenants facing a triple burden of insecurity, poor standards and already extortionate costs, Santander’s lust for profit above all else is making it harder for tenants to afford a home.”

Signatures grew on the group’s online petition, while Scottish housing justice group Living Rent announced solidarity demonstrations in Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

Santander has originally tried to justify the clause, and announced a review – but with the campaign set to grow the bank announced a full u-turn. 

Read more – Think tank and campaigners unveil proposals to establish a Scottish ‘living rent’

A spokesperson for Santander told CommonSpace: “We have never invoked the clause and having reviewed the wording, we are in the process of removing it from our terms and conditions.”
Rent costs have soared in hot-spots of the Scottish housing. The areas hardest hit by rent hikes over the past five years have been Aberdeenshire (36 per cent), Lothian (24.7 per cent) and Greater Glasgow (18.5 per cent), taken on the average cost of the most common two bedroom properties. 

The Living Rent Campaign, which is establishing itself as the country’s tenants’ membership organisation, wants the government and councils to go much further than current policy to establish a national system of rent controls, provide security of tenure, and improve the rights of tenants.

Picture courtesy of Mike Mozart

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