Red Clydeside: A history of the labour movement in Glasgow 1910-1932


The Rent Strikes: what the commission may do, 23 Oct 1915

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The first major statutory interventions in the contractual relationship between landlord and tenant occurred during the First World War and centred on events on Clydeside. Shortages of urban housing in key munitions districts enabled landlords to increase rents significantly. While this might have been an economically logical response to the demand for housing, it created severe political problems for the war-time government of Lloyd-George.

Women began to organise Tenants Strike Committees in munitions areas where landlords had increased rents. These strike committees, inspired by a strong sense of injustice, helped organise a campaign of non-payment of rents and brought the issue of fair rents into the national political arena.

With the threat of strike action by munitions workers and with no alternative sources of social housing available, and no scheme for providing public subsidies to assist meeting housing costs, the Government's only practical option was to introduce legislation to restrict the right of landlords to set or alter rent levels.