How we organise member solidarity

This is a guide for our members who are engaged in Member Solidarity work or who are looking to familiarise themselves with the principles and process that we use to build collective power around our member's housing disputes.

1. Our organising principles

The London Renters Union is about renters supporting renters to stand up to the landlords and estate agents that control our housing and building the power we need to secure our right to live with dignity through collective organising and action. What does this actually mean, though?

Solidarity not charity

We organise and campaign alongside one another as equal members of a community of renters who care for each other. We’re powerful when we act collectively. Members with a housing issue are asked to take the lead in solving their issue and to get involved with the union. We look out for each other and we’re careful to stay within our capacity.

Participation and skills

If we’re going to win, we need to get as many people involved as possible in our member solidarity organising, especially people who are hardest hit by the housing crisis or who aren’t already politically active. We share knowledge and skills with each other because the more of us that are confident to take on landlords, the more powerful we are.

Building the power of the union

Member solidarity organising is a way we build a community of care that provides practical and emotional support to each other. Winning disputes with each other builds our confidence and the relationships between us and shows other renters that collective action works. Each dispute is an opportunity to show how our housing system is rigged in favour of landlords and needs to be transformed.

Fight for yourself and others

Getting involved in the LRU doesn’t guarantee that your problem will be solved, but you are making it more likely it will be. We’ll give you the tools and support to stand up to your landlord and you’ll be able to fight alongside others too.

Action, escalation and negotiation

We take action in public to disrupt the activities of landlords and estate agents and show them that there’s a price to pay for not meeting our demands.

By strategically escalating the pressure on the landlord using a mix of tactics, we can show the power-holder that we’re not going away until they give in.

When the power holder is ready to talk, we prepare our negotiation thoroughly so we can win a deal that works for the member involved.


2. Our 5 stage member solidarity process

We are standing together against landlords – and this is how we do it!!

Every housing dispute that we organise around is different and we’re constantly learning about how to organise and win together. These steps are a rough guide to the kind of stages that our disputes go through if we take a decision that we are well placed and have the capacity to organise around a housing dispute.


  • 1. Initial Contact

    When a member gets in touch with an issue a member of one of our ‘Member Solidarity teams’ will call or email them back with some information about their issue and information about how to get involved with their local branch.

  • 2. Peer support at collective space +  suggesting possible next steps member

    If the member comes to their local branch they will get the chance to speak more about their issue and get more information about how to tackle it. The branch members will also discuss a possible next step the member might want to take.

  • 3. Member Solidarity team makes decision

    If it seems as though the member’s issue might need some longer term support beyond peer support, the Member Solidarity team in the branch will discuss it at their monthly meeting. They will discuss what capacity they have and think through what sort of issue the member might have.
    Could the member’s issue become a public ‘dispute’ the branch takes on?
    Is LRU not the right organisation to work on this and instead we should signpost onto another organisation?
    Is there collective case to do on this member’s issue?

  • 4. Launching dispute /  Starting collective casework / Signposting on

    This is where the work really happens!
    If a dispute was launched, the member will start working with the team first to ‘power map’ the decision-maker and then to plan and undertake a public dispute, including taking action. If collective casework begun, the member may start drafting an email with members of the branch team or they may begin a referral to a legal organisation. And, if signposting was decided the team would start to send details of other organisations onto the member.

  • 5. Evaluation and next steps

    The Member Solidarity team and member with the issue will continue to work together, reflecting and evaluating before taking the next step until the progress – or a win! – on the members’ issue.


3. Different forms of Member Solidarity

There are 4 different ways in which we work with members and apply our member solidarity principles. 

Peer Support

In branch meetings and in smaller collective spaces, we can: 

  • Fill in the new issue form
  • Listen and provide emotional support
  • Share what we know about renters rights 
  • Discuss next steps the member can take themselves


What? When LRU provides details of an external organisation that we’re encouraging a member to get support from.

When & Why? When we are not experts in that area – for example mental health; domestic violence; immigration; debt & money. Especially important when safety at risk.  


Collective casework

What? Having an ongoing conversations with a member to help them stand up to their landlord; helping to draft and send letters; securing legal support. 

When & Why? When the best route to keep that member in their home safely is through bureaucratic engagement and it isn’t safe or possible to be taking public action. 


A public dispute 

What? A dispute is when an LRU branch takes on a landlord/estate agent through taking public action.

When & Why?

  • We think it can build the union’s power 
  • We are confident there is capacity to see it through to a win
  • There is a clear power holder who can give us what we want.
  • The member is able to lead and help guide the dispute, active in the union and are happy for their situation to be public and publicised

4. How we organise together on member solidarity

Being honest about our own capacity

The union doesn’t aim to or have the capacity to replace existing advice services and we believe that we need to transform the housing system so that everyone has a decent home.

It’s not normally possible for a branch to collectively organise around more than 3-5 housing at once.

All branches are looking to build capacity through training and development – however this is a long term goal (see 4.6)

To make sure our organising is sustainable and healthy we:

  • Regularly check-in about our capacity and try to work out whether a given branch has the capacity to take on new disputes. Where there isn’t, we refer/sign post people who we don’t have capacity to organise a dispute with, especially if they don’t live in a branch area.
  • Where there isn’t time in meetings to talk about everyone’s issues, we prioritise those who are existing members over those who have recently joined and seek to signpost to advice services.
  • In our /join/ pages on our website, we make clear that we have a limited amount of capacity, that support happens at branch meetings and that we cannot guarantee that we can support people at their first branch meeting.
  • Respect each others time, many people are not always on their phones/computers.

Practical support during branch meetings

During every branch meeting there is some time (at least 30 minutes) for anyone who has brought an issue to the meeting to discuss it with other members and to agree some next steps and for discussion of existing disputes the union has already started. This section of the meeting should be facilitated by the member solidarity team.

It should start with a clear explanation of our member solidarity principles. The meeting is then divided into 2 or 3 large groups (roughly 7-10 people per group) and each issue is discussed for an equal amount of time. Each group is facilitated by someone from the member solidarity team.

For new housing issues, during this section of the meeting members with a housing issue will:

  • Explain to other members what their issue is.
  • Get an idea of how the LRU organises collectively to tackle individual members’ housing issues.
  • Identify some next steps for tackling their housing issue.

All members together will:

  • Create an empathetic space and sense of solidarity and care.
  • Make sure the member with a housing issue understands we’re about collective action not case work.
    Ideally, from this first discussion we will understand the member’s legal situation and identify a demand that we can make and how we are going to make it.
  • Agree some next steps to start to tackle a member’s housing issue. For example:
    • Drafting a demand letter to the landlord.
    • Speaking to neighbours to see if they are facing similar issues.
    • Carrying out some repair work collectively. 
  • Consider contacting a specialist organisation who could better support/provide additional support to the member with their issue.
  • Pencil in a date for an action, if appropriate.
  • Agree who will be responsible for those next steps and when and where they will take place (e.g. setting up a WhatsApp group with the affected member and some others, inviting that member to attend a member support meeting, planning for a few people and the affected member to write a letter, make a banner, do some research etc.)
  • Collect key information and decide on roles using the form and make sure someone writes it up in the Google Doc template.

These group discussions make the member support process visible to everyone in the branch, so that all members have some experience of how the LRU organises collectively to tackle individual members’ housing issues. The discussions provide an opportunity for all members (not just those who are part of the member support team) to feed in ideas and offer support. By involving all members in these initial member support conversations, the discussions also give branches a space to start to develop local or London-wide campaigns that respond to individual members’ issues.

Additional branch member solidarity meetings

Rather than lots of people working individually on writing letters and doing research, branches may instead organise additional member support meetings in between branch meetings where we can chat and organise together. These additional meetings are only open to people who have first been to a branch meeting.

These meetings are also an opportunity to have a bit of a capacity check-in, make sure our database up to date and that we haven’t let anyone’s housing issue slip too much.

Branch member solidarity team

Branch member solidarity teams are responsible for making sure that branch members with housing issues receive support. The teams facilitate member solidarity discussions during branch meetings, as well as the separate member solidarity meetings. They support branches to move cases to action where appropriate, and ensure that we do member solidarity in a way that builds our power.

The team is responsible for running regular buddying training during branch meetings, as well as training around collective organising for those who want to get more involved with member solidarity.

The team is also responsible for keeping the database up to date, with support from union staff.

The role of communications in housing disputes

Every housing dispute is an opportunity to highlight that our housing system is rigged in favour of landlords and investors and publicise our actions, talk about how a housing dispute links to our broader demands and celebrate our successes. We use social media, videos and work with journalists to get our message out and give space to our members to talk about their experience.

Building collective capacity through trainings and evaluation

We skill one another up as members so we can support one another and take control of our housing. This means that we hold trainings about different aspects of how we organise around member support in our branch meetings and longer union-wide trainings.

Union-wide member solidarity working group

The member support working group is made up of people organising around housing disputes in different branches and elsewhere in the union. It meets every few months to pool experiences and develop our resources and ways of organising.

In addition, we chat between us about the disputes we’re organising around and get advice and support from each other. 

Member solidarity online response team

There is an Online Member Solidarity Responses team which is responsible for contacting people who have got in touch via our member support form or the LRU email account. This team coordinates phone banking to invite people to their nearest branch meeting as a first step to getting some support with their housing issue.

The exception is when a member is facing an eviction that they want support resisting, in which the team will contact the Member Solidarity Working Group, which is responsible for coordinating eviction resistance.


Tracking the disputes we enter in to, their outcome and what we learn as we go is really important to helping us raise money and develop our organising methods. Member solidarity teams in branches work to update our database with all relevant information about an ongoing housing dispute. This helps us to remember what we know about a dispute and the leverage we have, bring new people into the conversation and share information within the team.

Member solidarity and the wider union

Member solidarity is a core part of the union and it’s vital that it strongly informs other parts of our organising together, including our communications, our union strategy and our campaign demands.