DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Housing

'I am scared of being homeless': Residents protest over doubling of rents

Property guardians from across London protested outside the offices of Dot Dot Dot over plans to hike rents by 113 per cent. But the social enterprise said it must put up fees to keep up with rent rises.

property guardians protest

Property guardians protested outside Dot Dot Dot's east London office on March 17. Image: London Renters Union

Property guardians have launched a protest against a social enterprise set up to tackle the housing crisis over plans to double fees.

Members of London Renters Union headed to the east London offices of Dot Dot Dot on Thursday to protest against the rises, which protesters claim will be as much as 113 per cent – and come amid the cost of living crisis.

Property guardians live in properties that would otherwise be left empty, with Dot Dot Dot set up in 2011 to provide housing for people who volunteer for good causes.

The social enterprise confirmed it has been undergoing a review of fees over the past quarter to bring them up to 50 to 70 per cent of local private rental prices.

But one of the protesters, Ashley Little, who lives in a property due for demolition in Abbey Wood, south-east London, said the rises make the temporary nature of property guardianship untenable. 

Little said: “Many of us choose property guardianship for the greater financial stability afforded by the lower rents.

“However, if you add near-market rents to the equation, you’re adding financial stress and precarity on top of a precarious housing situation.”

Protesters told The Big Issue they have been in discussions with Dot Dot Dot for weeks, asking for fee increases to be capped at five per cent.

property guardians protest
Protesters say putting up fees as the cost of living crisis hits will leave people at risk of homelessness but the social enterprise said it must keep up with the housing market to keep the business sustainable. Image: London Renters Union

They also called for the withdrawal of eviction notices allegedly served against property guardians who did not sign up to the new terms and an extension of notice periods from 28 days – as is common for private guardianships – to two months.

James Foulds, a guardian on Thamesmead Estate in Abbey Wood, said: “I’ve been in deep shock about these proposed increases. It’s not what I expect from an organisation that emphasises care for the community. They seem to have completely lost sight of their core values.”

Article continues below

Current vacancies...

Search jobs

Rosemary Tawiah, who also lives in Abbey Wood, added: “I am very frustrated and anxious about all that is going on. This issue is really draining me mentally; I can’t focus at work, I can’t sleep well nowadays, I can’t eat well and it’s affecting my health. I am scared of being homeless.”

In response to the protestors’ allegations, Dot Dot Dot told The Big Issue that without the fees review the “business will not be sustainable”.

The social enterprise said new fees range from £325 to £880 a month and that guardians have had 10 weeks’ notice of changes.

Dot Dot Dot added that a fees increase had been planned in early 2020 but was paused due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This meant that fees remained static for three years in many cases as rents have continued to rise at the fastest rate on record in the last year.

The lack of affordable housing in the UK is to blame, according to Dot Dot Dot’s founder Katharine Hibbert.

“In the context of the ongoing housing crisis, Dot Dot Dot is doing what we can to provide inexpensive housing to people who want to use their time to help others,” said Hibbert.

“We would love to see the government working seriously to address the lack of affordable housing in the UK. Until that happens we will continue our work to be a commercially sustainable social enterprise that provides homes for guardians.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Should we end Thatcher's Right to Buy? How scrapping scheme could help solve UK's housing crisis
Andy Burnham has differing views to Margaret Thatcher on Right to Buy
Right to Buy

Should we end Thatcher's Right to Buy? How scrapping scheme could help solve UK's housing crisis

'Next government must fix our broken rental system': Political leaders told to stand up for renters
renters are demanding the next government protects them from poverty
RENTING

'Next government must fix our broken rental system': Political leaders told to stand up for renters

Is there really a 'clear plan' to tackle UK's housing crisis? Five things we learned from Tory manifesto
Rishi Sunak ahead of the Conservative Manifesto launch
General election 2024

Is there really a 'clear plan' to tackle UK's housing crisis? Five things we learned from Tory manifesto

How shuttered airports could be brought back to life to tackle UK's housing crisis
Alma-nac's vision for Robin Hood Airport
Housing crisis

How shuttered airports could be brought back to life to tackle UK's housing crisis

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know