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Housing activists attacked: Landlord's family prevents union members from blocking 'no-fault' eviction

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ACORN members outside Donna's house. Photo by ACORN Sheffield.

The family of a landlord have attacked activists trying to prevent the eviction of a Sheffield tenant with nowhere else to stay.

30 members of the ACORN renters' union attempted to stop the eviction of fellow member Donna and her eighteen-year-old son from a house in Wybourn.

A livestream of the action appeared to show neighbours arriving and verbally abusing the tenant. ACORN members say they were sprayed with a garden hose by a neighbour.

The video shows a woman identified by activists as a member of the landlord's family snatching a phone from an ACORN member's hand and smashing it on the ground.

ACORN members are on the frontline of the housing crisis

The landlord had issued Donna with a 'no-fault' eviction, which requires tenants to leave without a reason. Despite her having nowhere else to go, the attempted eviction was within the law.

A family member is heard on the livestream suggesting to ACORN members that Donna "go to the homeless shelter."

"Donna's case shows the ways that the law is stacked against tenants and the lengths landlords will go to in order to keep tenants in line," ACORN's Jamie Sims told Now Then.

"ACORN members are on the frontline of the housing crisis, taking direct action to defend our interests and facing down intimidation through solidarity and collective action."

As she was on a priority list for council housing, activists had asked the landlord to allow Donna and her son to stay for a few more weeks before they could move into a new home.

During the action, the family members verbally abused activists and broke placards saying 'HOMES FOR ALL - NO EVICTIONS'. ACORN Sheffield livestreamed the entire action online.

The landlord later called the police, who couldn't take any action against the activists because evictions are a civil rather than a criminal matter.

The police took no action against the landlord's family members or neighbours, but activists say they were threatened with arrest for breach of the peace.

A bailiff also turned up, but couldn't evict the tenant due to the number of union members. Due to the intimidation directed at her, however, Donna decided to leave the house that night.

After contact from ACORN members, Sheffield City Council confirmed to Donna that they'll house her in the next few days.

Until then, Donna and her son are staying on her mum's sofa. If her case hadn't been expedited, they would have been homeless for several more weeks.

Donna joins 320,000 other people that are homeless in the run up to Christmas

During the action, ACORN members sang: "Oh the bailiff outside is frightful, but the tenant is so delightful. And since she's no place to go, we won't go, we won't go, we won't go."

"Donna joins 320,000 other people that are homeless in the run up to Christmas," said Jonny Butcher.

"Most of these are a direct consequence of 'no-fault' Section 21 evictions. All the main parties have pledged to end this type of eviction."

Sam Gregory

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ACORN members outside Donna's house. Photo by ACORN Sheffield.
by Sam Gregory (he/him)

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