Living Rent

31 October 2018

“We believe that everyone deserves a good standard of living, but we know that isn’t always the case.”

“Through our project, we support residents on low incomes in Edinburgh to develop their knowledge and awareness of their rights as private tenants, and increase their confidence to campaign on issues that affect them. We have recently had a focus on high-rise blocks of flats in northern Edinburgh, where many people are facing a lot of issues with damp and repairs not being carried out.

Although it is a low-income area, you can pay a huge amount for rent and, because a lot are ex-council flats, some tenants are paying triple what their next-door neighbours are paying because they are still council flats.

Often, you can feel a bit lonely, especially as a private tenant. All the power is with the agency as the rental market is so tight. It’s very difficult for a tenant to find a new home but it’s easy for an agency to find a new tenant.

We are finding that people are really benefitting by getting together, sharing experiences and supporting each other.

“It’s only since Living Rent came on the scene and we have been actually going round knocking on doors that it’s brought to light to everybody that there’s so many of us that have the same problems. The idea is to bring tenants together. That’s what’s been happening in our community meetings.”

- Mike Valance, resident and project member

Campaigners from Living Rent

One example is that a woman and her family had been waiting for ten days to have their toilet repaired – they couldn’t use it because it didn’t have a flush and the letting agent said to just use a bucket of water to flush the toilet!

We stood together, outside the office, and hand-delivered a letter to the letting agent. Now, they are getting their toilet repaired and a refund on their rent for the time they had to wait for repairs.

Together we are putting power back in local people’s hands and it is incredibly empowering to see that you can take action and be successful.

We bring together activists, knock on doors, have tables in the city centre to talk to members of the public, draw up proposals and even lobby the Scottish Government to make positive changes to the private rental sector.

Currently, we are lobbying the City Council to introduce a rent pressure zone (RPZ), which would help relieve the pressure that some people are under. It doesn’t go as far as we want, but it is a start and members are very passionate about it. The Council has given us a commitment that they will investigate what it will take to implement the RPZ – the report is due soon.

We know that a fair and decent standard of living is vital for positive physical and mental health, and we will keep campaigning until we are no longer needed.”

Jonathon Black, project lead and resident


Living Rent were awarded £17,709 for their ‘Healthy Homes’ project, which is funded through the Trust’s Active Communities programme with money raised through The Health Lottery in Scotland.

This case study was produced as part of People's Health Trust's 2018 Annual Review. To read it in full, click here.

To find out about more projects funded by the Trust, click here.

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