Keep proper journalism alive. It's time to Back the Cable
The Bristol Cable

“You think you can take on the landlords?!” We just did.

Bristol’s community union faces down violent threats from landlord to get the job done.

Ideas and Action

Bristol’s community union faces down violent threats from landlord to get the job done.

Words: Nick Ballard. Organiser, ACORN Bristol

There’s a wide spectrum of landlords in the private rented sector – from good to middling to bad and all points in between. Then there are ones like Sukchan ‘Tommy’ Singh. According to ACORN’s research Tommy as he likes to be known, has built himself quite the reputation for abuse and intimidation of tenants, with threats of beatings with baseball bats reported.

Following the recommendation of the Citizens Advice Bureau we were approached by Sue* who lives on Chelsea Road in Easton. We’ve seen some pretty dire properties in our time but the water pouring through the roof each time it rains set this one apart.

Whenever Sue asked for repairs Tommy responded with abuse and harassment such that the Police were involved. Things came to a head when the Council ordered works under Discretionary Licensing powers as despite safeguards against this, Sue was blamed for their intervention. Screaming at Council staff and Sue (she says he couldn’t stand being told what to do by three women) he has been determined to evict her ever since.

Following a letter from ACORN calling for the work to be done immediately rather than in the several months the Council allowed, our first conversation with Tommy consisted of threats of violence and general abuse. ‘Born and bred’ in Easton, he apparently ‘knows the score’ and would ‘sort us out personally.’

Despite this we negotiated in good faith and perhaps mistaking this for weakness Tommy saw an opportunity to act nice and string things out. Seems he couldn’t keep it up for long as after being told to cut the crap and begin the work he began threatening ACORN staff with extreme gang violence. While not always on this level, landlords angry at having their authority challenged is all in a day’s work for an ACORN organiser and better it be directed at us than vulnerable tenants such as Sue who has M.E. and is recovering from an operation.

So far Tommy’s threats have rung a bit hollow and it seems that he might have had second thoughts: the morning after his most vicious threats a roofer mysteriously appeared at Sue’s door and began work. We’ll be keeping an eye out and organising further action on this but for the time being the answer to Tommy’s challenge “You think you can take on the landlords?” has to be, where they exploit and abuse tenants YES, WE CAN!

*Name has been changed

Find out more and join ACORN here

 

Join 2,500 Cable members redefining local media

Your support will help the Cable grow, deepening our connections in the city and investigating the issues that matter most in our communities.

Join now

What makes us different?

Related content

Colston 4 judgment: ’The government is tearing up our protest rights’

The Colston Four were acquitted earlier this year after tearing down the Colston statue. But a Court of Appeal judgment means protesters will be less likely to receive similar protections in future.

5 key moments in history that led to the Police and Crime Act

Now the government has restricted peaceful protest, criminal defence solicitor Matt Foot explains the history of violent policing at protests and outlines how we got here.

‘It’s what God is asking of me’: Bristol reverend, 80, will risk arrest again to raise awareness of climate crisis

Supporters cheered as Reverend Sue Parfitt had a conviction overturned by a judge.

Andreas Malm: ‘Why climate activists should engage in acts of sabotage’

Environmental protesters need to rethink their tactics, argues a Swedish scholar of human ecology who came to Bristol this week.

Man charged with riot and arson says police escalated protest into violence

He is accused of trying to set police vehicles on fire during the Kill the Bill demo on 21 March, but blamed police for turning the protest violent.

Riot charges handed to Bristol Kill the Bill protesters are rare in recent history of unrest in Britain

Protesters face up to 10 years in prison after being charged with the most serious of public order offences. Lawyers comment on what this means and how recent riots and protests have been dealt with by the criminal justice system.

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning