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Activist group must pay £100,000 damages to landlord

Local media in Sheffield are reporting that the activist group Acorn must pay just under £100,000 in costs and damages to a landlord, to settle a legal case for harassment, defamation and breach of data rights.

Acorn - formally called the Association of Community Organisations for Reform Now - waged what the landlord’s legal defence called “a campaign of harassment” 

It reportedly included filming and confronting the landlord at her home, holding placards bearing defamatory statements, blogging and posting abusive statements on social media, threatening her using a loud hailer, approaching her in public, and holding a ‘public meeting’ about her outside Sheffield town hall.


Neighbours received leaflets calling the landlord “dodgy”.

Yet the dispute between the landlord and her tenant - said to be an Acorn member - was over just £300.

JMW Solicitors, which represented the landlord, said the campaign went on for four months, and involved “noisy demonstrations involving scores of people as well as highly defamatory and incorrect posts on social media”.

The Sheffield Star quotes the landlord as saying: “The last two years have been unbearable and frightening. I’m relieved and pleased the case has been resolved in my favour and now the harassment will stop. I also wanted to prevent this from happening to other business owners.”

A spokesman for JMW Solicitors tells the Sheffield Star: “We are delighted to have successfully acted for [landlord] Mrs Rafique in this case and to have brought it to a close in her favour and Century One’s favour. Unfortunately, despite being in the wrong in their allegations against Mrs Rafique, the tenant and ACORN embarked upon a campaign of harassment against her. Clearly, there is a place for legal and legitimate campaigning, but the tenant’s and ACORN’s conduct seriously crossed the line.”

As part of the settlement, ACORN, which advocates for social change for low and moderate income households, paid just under £100,000 in costs and damages to m the landlord and Century One Estates, made written apologies and agreed not to repeat the conduct again.

Head organiser for the group, Nick Ballard, says: “We can't comment on the specifics of this case but ACORN remains committed to its mission of winning justice for and protecting its members and advancing the cause of low income people and communities across the country. Nothing will deter us from this.”

Acorn is a prominent part of the Renters Reform Coalition, which advocates radical changes to private renting.

You can see the full story reported by the Sheffield Star here.

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    Good. Harassment in any form in either the direction of Landlord or Tenant is a bad thing. Perhaps learning to sit down and have a grown up discussion rather than shouting at people with loud hailers in the street is the way forward.

  • James B

    Maybe they will think twice about their lawless attitude, quite hypocritical when they claim to be upholding the law for tenants. If these clowns are the face of tenants god help them

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    I remember this story, and was disgusted at the time with the actions of the activists being that it was over a holding deposit, for which the tenant didn’t end up starting the tenancy. So it was thoroughly reasonable to keep the holding deposit which was taken for that exact circumstance. In fact the landlord lost significantly more than the holding deposit because it resulted in a void for an extra couple of weeks that would have otherwise been filled by another renter.

    Great to read a story of activists (well an organisation sadly, rather than individuals) being held responsible for their actions for once. They are few and far between but hopefully it will inspire other landlords to take action if harassed by activists, and also act as a shot across the bow to these organisations that they are not above the law, and if they do choose to bully, harass and intimidate someone for imposing a contractual obligation, then they can meet the full force of the law for their violent actions.

    Hopefully there will be more of these to follow given the comment from the head of ACORN who was clearly unprepared to accept any fault for their actions, or express any regret or sympathy for the hell they put a family through over just £300.

  • Matthew Payne

    I bet all the donors listed on their Legal Fund, Go Fund Me page have got a warm fuzzy feeling about how their hard earned cash has been spent fighting for a fairer deal for their communities....

  • icon

    Bullies get their comeuppance,what's not to like

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    Mathew, these activists are businesses !


    Yes and it's great to see their balance sheet £100k poorer!

    Just a pity the CEO didn't gain a criminal record for encouraging or enabling such criminal behaviour.

  • icon

    Ha!!!! Brilliant! Let’s hope it deters them from this moronically juvenile behaviour in future. Shame they’re not getting bankrupted over it. Still, it’s typically socialistic of them: spending other people’s money on fruitless causes until it’s all gone. Tee-hee.

  • icon

    A good news story for a change in terms of Landlords !

  • Andrew Adnell

    Great outcome for Mrs Rafique. As for holier than thou Acorn lot who must shell out £100,000 over a £300 matter, revenge is sweet I say. Nasty lot.

  • jeremy clarke

    Absolutely great news, at last this bunch of unwashed hooligans have been brought to boot over their terrible behaviour. Let's hope they will learn from this and just go away or learn to become civilised adults.


    You can hope but I don't expect.

  • jeremy clarke

    Absolutely great news, at last this bunch of unwashed hooligans have been brought to boot over their terrible behaviour. Let's hope they will learn from this and just go away or learn to become civilised adults.

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    There should be jail sentences as well as paying costs and damages.
    Bunch of Morons, I would like to know how many of them actually contribute anything to Society, Taxes etc, probably very few.


    The little darlings do not have time to contribute anything to society - they are too busy demonstrating.


    I suspect most scrounge from society

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Who, exactly paid for Acorns £100 k ?


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