6 Ways you can fight for lower rent and better halls at UCL

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Securing affordable accommodation requires commitment, and it can be done! Here are a few tips for getting what we want around halls:

1. Join the Campaign Meeting

The best way to meet others at UCL who are passionate and committed to making halls affordable is to go to the year’s first open meeting of the ‘UCL, Cut the Rent’ Campaign. The meeting will be on Wednesday 7 October at UCL and will give you lots of info and advice on what we can do together to force UCL to end their exploitative ways. Find all the details here: www.facebook.com/events/964826676907267/ (There will even be free food and drinks!)

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Meet others who share your belief in freedom, justice and fair rent. The Campaign meeting is a great place to start!

2. Take part in your local Halls Assembly

Halls Assemblies are meetings at your hall where residents get together to decide for themselves how they would like their halls to be run. This is real democracy in practice – students making decisions for themselves about what changes they’d like see. This is an opportunity to unite with others in your hall around common issues and agree on how to improve anything from cockroaches to the lack of halls parties. Halls Assemblies can also be for making decisions about collective action such as writing letters to management and protesting poor maintenance and high rent. Many of the rules and conditions that UCL enforces are unfair – Halls Assemblies are where you and everybody else in your halls decide what to do about them.

Keep an eye out for your first local assembly. Anybody can call an assembly, so if you can’t find one scheduled for your halls you can establish one! Contact your Union Halls Officers to find out more details or help to organise a meeting.

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A Halls Assembly meeting in the Max Rayne House common room. Residents decided to demand better furniture and kitchens, and set up a halls committee to organise parties and events!

3. Become a Halls Representative or join your halls committee Halls Election

Each hall at UCL should have a union halls rep and a residents’ committee. These are students who are elected to raise issues with UCL management, stay up to date with problems around your site and take on organising work for actions meeting, events and parties. Being a representative in the students union or on a committee is an important and rewarding job and a great way to meet and speak to others at your halls, find out what their problems are and meet with the bosses to demand that they get solved. UCL also gives a budget to halls that have a residents’ committee (£5 per resident, or between £1,000 to £4,500 per hall) – this money can be used for social events, parties, equipment for the common room or anything else residents decide. Union reps can also get the opportunity to bring issues faced by their constituents to meetings with other union officers, union general assemblies or meetings with UCL management. If you’re proactive and like getting involved and solving problems and issues for fairer halls, you should stand for election!

To join the election to be a union halls representative just follow this link: www.uclu.org/election/autumn-elections-2015 If you want to be part of your halls committee, write to the Union Halls Accommodation Officer and to your local site managers. Nominations for union representative close on Friday 9 October – so make sure to register on time!

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UCLU is our students union. Becoming a representative is simple, click the picture for more information.

4. Get organising for improvements

If you experience things in your flat that you think should be improved (Lower rent, no pests, better kitchens, or anything else), don’t keep it to yourself! Chances are that others in your flat, your block or your halls will be experiencing the same problem. Don’t feel that you’re not entitled to make complaints to UCL management or demand better. Talk to other people in your flats and in your halls, follow what’s going on on your halls facebook page or ask others if they’ve had the same problems. Find out what issues are around and decide how you’d like to see it fixed.  Nobody likes pests! Is your fridge too small? Would you like to spend less money on rent? – Don’t accept poor conditions, and if you stand up for your flatmates’ problems you can count on them standing up for you.

5. Send your demands to UCL

Make sure to let UCL know what you want. Also make sure that you’re not alone in proposing improvements; remember – unity is strength. The more people who’re demanding change the more likely it is that management will be forced to take you seriously. UCL are experts at ignoring individual complaints and often dismiss students who write to them with. But when we get together me can make them listen – it’s thanks to collective strength and bargaining power that the ‘Cut the Rent’ Campaign has been able to win concessions in the past. Remember that you can always turn individual issues into collective disputes. If one of your flatmates has a broken window, you can speak up on their behalf and vice versa. Set up petitions and collect names of everybody who wants to see better conditions and lower rent.

Know who to contact at UCL and report service failures (report issues here) as soon as possible. If you don’t get a satisfactory response from your local site managers, write to their bosses. Don’t hesitate to send complaints or petitions to the Director of Student Accommodation (w.wilson@ucl.ac.uk) or the Head of Property (c.plank@ucl.ac.uk). Always contact your Union Halls Officers for advice and assistance.

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A dirty dead rodent found in a kitchen in UCL’s Hawkridge House. Nobody should accept pests like this and at Hawkridge over 100 people signed a protest letter to management for better conditions.

6. Get your flatmates involved!

The more people are involved in the campaign for lower rent the more likely we are to succeed! Talk to your flatmates and others in your halls. Get them to come down to the next campaign meeting or Halls Assembly, and take part in a protest action. It’s our right to have decent and affordable homes – in a city beset by a housing crisis that’s hitting not only students, this is something that concerns everybody! Lower rent at UCL will help break the power of the landlords across London, but it will only happen if we get out mates to get on board too. Remember that this is a struggle we can win if we stand together.

Contact the ‘UCL, Cut the Rent’ Campaign here.

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