ACCORDING to insurance firm CIA Landlord, Brighton is the most profitable city in the UK for landlords.

The company calculated landowners make an average profit of £669 in the city.

But many tenants feel that increased profit does not translate into increased support.

Elsie Bradley-Middle began renting in Brighton as a student.

“The day we moved in we were told by our letting agent some work had to be carried out,” the 21-year-old said.

“We went in and one of the walls had been totally re-plastered and left to dry.

“They said it would take a week.”

A month later, the plaster was still wet.

“It was a horrible room to live in,” Elsie said.

“We concluded the flat had a problem with damp, so we contacted the lettings agency.

“That started off a chain of emails that lasted for four months.”

After recruiting renters’ union Acorn to help, Elsie and her room-mates were contacted by their landlord and the problem was solved.

“The biggest problem is there’s no regulation with landlords and lettings agencies so there’s no standards,” she said.

“When something goes wrong with your flat you never expect anything to be done about it.”

Another experienced renter, Megan, had an even worse experience.

“The third property I rented in Brighton was a total disaster,” she said.

“I stepped onto the balcony which gave way and I fell straight through the floor onto a concrete balcony below.

“I was incredibly lucky with the extent of my injuries but I’m still in therapy for trauma.”

Acorn believes issues like these could be prevented if landlords across the city are licensed by Brighton and Hove City Council.

This would mean the council would set up list of approved “fit and proper” landlords who would pay for licences.

The idea is controversial with some landowners, who see it as as a money maker for councils.

But the last time the city council tried to bring this measure in two years ago, the Southern Landlords Association successfully sued the Government to prevent the scheme’s approval.

The association, now known as iHowz, did not respond to The Argus’s request for comment.

The city council now plans to license landlords in less than 20 per cent of the city to avoid legal trouble.

But Acorn chairman Sam Dunnett and activist Leila Erin-Jenkins believe the council can go further with the support of renters.

“The landlords’ association organised themselves to defeat landlord licensing in court,” Sam said.

“Now we want to show the strength of organised renters.

“We want the council to know we will support them to introduce licensing. We don’t have much money but we have people.”

Acorn is known to be direct with its methods, protesting outside letting agents’ offices.

Last month the group stormed into Property Plus and played Monopoly, demanding a Section 21 notice be revoked.

But chairman Sam said Acorn now wants to tackle renters’ problems at the root.

It has proposed a Better Renting for Brighton programme calling for licensing, extra funds for housing law enforcement, and an end to Section 21 notices.

The union also wants all landlords to sign an “ethical landlord charter” and legal recognition for Acorn as a renters’ union.

“If we’re recognised as a union, we can have a seat at the table in discussions,” chairman Sam said.

“Workers have a right to union representation, so renters should have that too.”

Acorn activist Leila said “good landlords” would have nothing to worry about if the measures are introduced.

“Renting can be an intimidating and isolating experience,” she said. “These are people’s homes. For landlords they’re just an investment.”

Multiple councillors have pledged support for Acorn’s programme.

Though the city council is insistent city-wide licensing cannot be introduced legally, housing chief Councillor Gill Williams is open to Acorn’s ideas. “We are committed to doing all we can to drive up conditions and standards in private rented accommodation in our city,” she said. “We’re certainly open to the suggestion of an ethical landlord charter.”