Over the past 3 weeks Nottingham Solidarity Network has been taking actions against a dodgy landlord, Mr Shakil, also known as “Shak”. The landlord collected rent from tenants whilst at the same time not paying the mortgage. This caused them to be evicted upon repossession of the house. The landlord also neglected to pay the £700 deposit into a deposit protection scheme as required by law, nor maintain the property.
We see this level of mendacity as stemming from the control landlords and bosses have over our lives and thus we created Nottingham Solidarity Network in order to fight back. J contacted us and together we have come up with ways of collectivizing the dispute in order to apply pressure to get the money back he’s owed.
On Saturday March 31st twenty or so friends of NSN met in Carrington to await a sighting of Mr Shakil in his new workplace; Nad’s takeaway owned by his brother in law. Once we spotted him getting into his car on the other side of the road we briskly made our way towards him. Whilst the group surrounded the car, J knocked on the open window and handed over a letter demanding the return of the £700. Mr Shakil accepted the letter, mumbled several unconvincing excuses and drove off at speed.
This action had the benefit of showed Mr Shakil that this was no longer merely an issue between ex-tenants and ex-landlord, but had become a collective action. The relationship between landlord and tenant is one which has an intrinsically uneven power balance, with the landlord the owner of the property collecting money from the tenant who has no other option but to pay or be made homeless. When the tenant pays rent, but is still evicted from their home this is an abuse of this power.
In order to redistribute this power we can respond collectively, ensuring that landlords and bosses in Nottingham are aware that their actions will elicit a response.
Having received no response from Mr Shakil we decided to again target his workplace in order to remind him that action will continue to escalate until the deposit is returned. To this end Nottingham Solidarity Network called out for as many people as possible to contact the takeaway from 6pm to 10pm on Saturday the 14th April via phone, and politely ask for the circumstances to be redressed.
Following a call out via numerous organisations, social media platforms and websites the subsequent phone blockade was hugely effective. We’d like to thank everyone who showed solidarity by taking the time to get involved.Scores of people reported ringing in, with calls frequently unable to connect and going to voicemail. Staff reactions included denying he worked there, resignation, intimidation and threats of violence.
Obviously perturbed, reports suggest that a member of staff called the police at around 7pm and some callers who weren’t shielding their number were then contacted from a local police station and told to desist or face repercussions. Despite these questionable attempts at intimidation the call out had already gone out and people continued to ring throughout the evening. There have been no further attempts to contact callers by the police that we know of, but if anyone has had contact please let us know.
Reports from takeaway staff indicated that takings were down 50% on a normal Saturday, one of the two busiest days of the week for them. This is a reminder of our power when we act collectively.
These actions have obviously caused Shak discomfort as he took this occasion to make his first proactive engagement with the NSN. Unfortunately this was to contact a fellow ex tenant unconnected to NSN and make a series of threats against his person, whilst simultaneously admitting fault and expressing a desire to pay if he had the means. He also contacted the NSN phone. We refuse to be intimidated and hope this marks the beginning of Mr Shakil’s engagement with us.
NSN will continue to take actions until Mr Shakil begins act in good faith and takes steps to begin to repay the outstanding deposit.