What a day has this been!
Yesterday, lots of us got follow up letters regarding the ongoing rent strike and Sanctuary’s response. In the last few days, Sanctuary Students sent out letters to those who haven’t paid rent stating that people are in rent arrears and that future actions such as legal proceedings and third party agencies may be undertaken in order for them to get the money which they believe that they are owed. This is a difficult letter to read, it’s threatening, it’s scary and makes us all concerned about the future of the strike. We share the feelings you may be having at the moment.
However, everybody on the rent strike organising team (mostly students!) agreed in our weekly meeting today that it’s a move on their part which is intimidating and uncomfortable to receive. It’s purpose is clear, it shows how frustrated Sanctuary are with the situation and that they are willing to jeopardize an already deeply broken relationship with vulnerable students just for financial gain. We now want to reassure you more than ever that we are here for you and will continue to fight for you. We are receiving legal advice on the situation and have been told on several occasions that we are on strong footing in this case. Therefore, it still remains true that if Sanctuary continued to target students in this unfair way it would be a PR disaster for them, and we know that their attempts to guilt-trip by stating that their practices as a charity make them different from the rest of the sector is just a weak argument to confuse us and please their investors.
In the meantime, as the main campaigning team (which you can join at any time!), we are putting together some further information and resources for you that we will get to you by the end of this week. Some of the things we are focusing on at the moment are:
Seeking legal advice on the current situation, both from renters unions and housing law lawyers - We have now confirmed with a very reputable legal firm that they are willing to represent us for free should the campaign need legal support
Drafting a template letter for you to respond to that email/letter
Putting together a letter for SOAS & Other unis to step in and protect its students
Sending further official communications to Sanctuary Students demanding solutions
Thinking about media strategies to create further PR damage to Sanctuary
Looking into ways to further raise formal complaints about them with the CMA, the national codes of practice for private providers, the National Housing Federation and the Charity Commission.
Creative campaigning and network building ideas such as pub quizzes, in person (with safe distance!) meetings in halls and others!