Letslivehere responds to ACORN Communities pressure campaign

In case you were not aware, a protest was staged outside our office last Saturday. Attended by a handful of people from a pressure group called Acorn Communities, this was the latest step in their attempts to get us to sign the Ethical Lettings Charter.

We had been warned this protest would take place if we did not commit to the Charter by that date, and it duly went ahead. We were told the protest would be the latest step in their pressure campaign against us, which had previously seen Acorn members leave a series of identical negative reviews on our Facebook page, reducing our rating from 5 stars to 3.8 stars.

The protest itself lasted for about 45 minutes and saw a small number of people waving plaquards, playing music, sticking posters up around our property and stopping people who were coming into or passing by our office. We are pleased to report it caused us no disruption and it was very much business as usual throughout the day for the Letslivehere team.

We hear from social media this is the first of a series of events Acorn Communities have planned to attempt to make us sign up to the Charter. Despite telling Acorn Communities on previous occasions we will not be signing and explaining our reasons why, the campaign against us looks set to continue. This is very upsetting for a small family-run business like ours, but we are committed to ensuring this does not compromise the outstanding service and standards we are known to provide to our landlords and tenants.

To be clear – the Ethical Lettings Charter adds nothing extra to the standards we already conform to; in fact, we actually exceed the standards specified within the Charter. We are already a member of the National Landlords Association (NLA), the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) – an independent body to give tenants and landlords alike protection and reassurance – and have had membership of the Property Ombudsman for six years, so are governed by the recognised legal regulatory bodies. We lodge deposits with the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), giving tenants financial peace of mind. Furthermore, we have a strong relationship with Newcastle City Council and their environmental health department, with whom we work closely.

Importantly, the NLA, NALS and the Council have all agreed with our decision not to sign up to the Charter.

We have been made aware that Acorn Communities are planning to target other letting agents in Newcastle. We know that some have already signed up, having been put under mounting pressure to do so, but despite the threat of escalating tactics, Letslivehere will not become members of the Charter.

Acorn Communities have contacted us since Saturday to request a meeting, but as we have stated to them previously, we do not conduct business in this way. We will not be pressured into signing a Charter we feel adds nothing to what Letslivehere already offers.

As ever, we are immensely grateful for the support and understanding we have received from our landlords and tenants over this unfortunate matter.