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Tenant Rights

Oakland, CA: Tenants Demand Repairs, Declare Rent Strike

Oakland, California - Tenants of 180-unit Oakland apartment building Merritt on 3rd are collectively refusing rent Sept. 1 until the landlord meets demands related to chronic habitability issues. The Merritt on 3rd Tenant Council and Tenant and Neighborhood Councils (TANC) present speakers and banners at a rally at the 1130 3rd Ave. building on Tues., Aug 30, 6pm. The Merritt on 3rd Tenant Council formed in June, 2022 to address building deterioration, mismanagement, and high rent imposed by landlord Kennedy Wilson and FPI Management. Habitability issues resulting from the landlord’s neglect include a rat infestation evident up to the 11th floor; hot water and elevator outages; code-deficient fire safety; mold and sewage leaks.

New Resource: The Tenant Power Toolkit

Helping each of us fight eviction and debt as individuals in the court system is crucial. But that is only the first part of what we can do together. Filing an answer to Unlawful Detainer or responding to a small claims lawsuit helps us respond to the system, but how can we change an unfair system? How can we change a system that evicts tenants who cannot file complicated legal papers within 5 days, but gives landlords online tools to evict from home? How can we change a system that allows landlords to ruin our credit over missed rent? With consent, we also want to connect users to tenant organizing across California, and eventually, connect users to others in their situation - neighbors; those who share landlords; those on rent strike. Why? Because if I am facing eviction or debt alone, my landlord has power over me.

Renters Are Being Fleeced With Huge Rent Hikes And Evictions

Gerardo Vidal, who has lived in the same apartment in Queens, New York, with his family for 9 years, recently received a $900-a-month rent increase this year. “It means having to uproot my entire family, given the fact we’re still having a difficult time earning money due to the pandemic and loss of jobs,” said Vidal. “It’s unfair that we are being basically forced out of places we lived in for nine years and that landlords can get away with this.” Vidal is one of thousands of tenants in New York and countless others around the US who are currently experiencing drastic rent increases—a trend that has been decades in the making but, combined with an inflation squeeze and systemic shortage of affordable housing, is causing havoc for renters. These rent hikes are effectively serving as evictions by landlords who know full well that tenants will likely have to move as a result, enabling the landlords to rent out units to new tenants at greater rates.

Tampa’s Housing Crisis And The Fight For Rent Control

Tampa, Florida - The Tampa community has struggled for an end to the housing crisis since the eviction moratoriums ended last year. With this year’s midterm elections approaching, Tampa activists demand a rent control ordinance to stop the rise in rent prices. Enough public support can push the Tampa city council to address the housing emergency. Tampa is among the cities facing the worst of the national housing crisis. Tampa ranks ninth worst in the world for decrease in housing affordability. Renters in the city spend 42% of their income on housing, a 6% increase from 2017 during a time of rising inflation and stagnant wages. In 2022, affordable housing listings decreased by 46% while housing prices increased by 26%. More people in Tampa are at risk of losing their housing.

A New Effort In San Francisco Aims To Debate Rent At The Bargaining Table

San Francisco, California - On April 11, tenant representatives from the Veritas Tenants Association gathered at the mailbox at 150 Larkin St. across the lawn from San Francisco City Hall. They dropped 15 letters to their landlord, Veritas Investments, the largest landlord in San Francisco and the subject of lawsuits alleging tenant harassment, into the mailbox. “We will show what it means to unionize the biggest private landlord in S.F.,” tenant Madelyn McMillian said. “We will be bargaining on a full range of issues affecting our lives.” The letters presented majority approval of tenant associations in 15 Veritas buildings and asked that Veritas formally acknowledge the unions under a new San Francisco “Right to Organize” ordinance, which went into effect April 11.

TANC Organizing Committee On San Francisco’s ‘Right To Organize’

In February, San Francisco officials amended administrative code to “require residential landlords to allow tenant organizing activities to occur in common areas of the building; require certain residential landlords to recognize duly-established tenant associations, confer in good faith with said associations, and attend some of their meetings upon request; and provide that a landlord’s failure to allow organizing activities or comply with their obligations as to tenant associations may support a petition for a rent reduction.” They call it the “right to organize.” While the media and some tenant organizations hailed the legislation as an unprecedented expansion of tenant rights, in key ways the legislation limits its nominal goal and solidifies conditions that undermine mass tenant power.

Tenants Call For Public Housing Boss To Be Bounced

New York City - “Get Russ out!” public-housing tenants from around the city chanted outside the New York City Housing Authority headquarters in Lower Manhattan June 9, demanding the ouster of Gregory Russ, who was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to head NYCHA in 2019. Russ, who previously headed public-housing authorities in Minneapolis and Cambridge, Massachusetts, has come under fire from tenants for his advocacy of bringing in private investors and managers to finance and run the city’s public housing, which has been plagued by underfunding and a years-long backlog of repairs. “He’s more considered to us as a hit man,” says Ronald Topping, president of the tenant association at the Adams Houses in the South Bronx. “We saw it coming before he got here.”

Renters in Berlin have a radical plan to seize apartments from landlords

Like many cities around the world, rents in the German capital of Berlin have soared in recent years, doubling in the last decade alone. But unlike many other cities, the people of Berlin are actually doing something about it. First residents persuaded the local authorities to bring in a rent cap that instructed landlords to freeze rents at 2019 levels. However, that was overturned by Germany's federal court in April, which ruled the measures unconstitutional. Now local campaigners are planning something even more radical: a bid to nationalize thousands of privately owned apartments in the city. Specifically, campaigners want the government to take apartments from real estate firms that own more than 3,000 apartments, place them into public ownership, and rent them out at more affordable rates.

Berlin: Protests Against End Of ‘Rent Cap’ And Real Estate Swindlers

The repeal of the Berlin “rent cap” by the Supreme Court means massive rent increases, arrears payments and poverty for hundreds of thousands of people. The ruling, which exacerbates homelessness amid the coronavirus crisis, has a signal effect for the whole of Germany and is emblematic of the inhuman enrichment policies of the ruling elites in Germany and Europe. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, spoke on Twitter on Thursday of a “deeply disturbing judgment” and, referring to the pandemic, warned, “The German government still has an international legal obligation to respect the right to housing vis-à-vis tenants.” Despite the threat posed by COVID-19, more than 10,000 people took part in spontaneously organised protests that same day.

There’s Only One State Where Falling Behind On Rent Could Mean Jail Time

Arkansas state Rep. Nicole Clowney, D-Fayetteville, introduced a bill Thursday that would repeal the state’s criminal “failure to vacate” statute. First enacted in 1901, the law allows landlords to seek criminal charges, which can result in jail time, for tenants who fall even a single day behind on rent and do not vacate a property within 10 days. Everywhere else in the U.S., evictions are exclusively a civil matter. The legislation comes after a ProPublica and Arkansas Nonprofit News Network article in October revealed how criminal charges brought under the statute can snowball into arrest warrants and jail time for tenants. A deputy county prosecutor who criticized the law, saying it essentially criminalizes poverty, was fired for his remarks.

Housing Justice Group Puts Power Back In Tenants’ Hands

Brandy Granados’s road to activism began in November 2018 when the heater in her Kansas City, Missouri, apartment exploded. She went without heat for two months during a winter that included multiple blizzards. She continued to pay rent, she said, but in response her landlord didn’t fix the heater; instead he tried to evict her and her children.  Desperate for help, she was connected with Tara Raghuveer, an area native who had returned after graduating from college with the goal of solving residents’ housing insecurity. “I figured I could either just sit there and be mad about my situation, or I could do something about it,” Granados said.  She was able to fight off the first eviction attempt in court, but the landlord removed her to retake possession of the house. She ended up in a homeless shelter for three months. The loss of her home has left her son suffering from anxiety and trauma.

Tenants Take On The ‘City’s Worst Landlord’ With Rent Strike

Standing outside the four-story brick apartment building in Crown Heights she calls home, Jemiah Johnson took her turn with the black megaphone. “This building is literally killing us!” the 26-year-old mother shouted to the small crowd of neighbors waving homemade signs scrawled with phrases like DEFEND RENT STRIKERS and TENANT POWER. “My child is waking up three or four times in the middle of the night struggling to breathe.” At the November rally, she and her fellow mask-clad tenants described a long-standing pattern of neglect and shoddy repairs: crumbling ceilings, leaky pipes, walls caked with mold, repeated desultory work that never truly fixes anything.

Emergency Urbanism

Los Angeles is on the brink of one of the largest mass displacements in the history of the region. As eviction courts reopen, nearly half a million renter households, concentrated in Black and Latinx neighborhoods, are at risk of expulsion through unlawful detainers, or eviction filings—UD Day is here. In a deal struck with the landlord and banker lobbies, the California legislature has put forward tenant protections that postpone some evictions, keeping tenants in a state of permanent displaceability. In a cruel hoax, such protections convert unpaid rent into debt, turning the small-claims court into yet another arena of violence against working-class communities of color.

Nearly 1,000 Homeless People Died In LA In 2020 As 93,000 Homes Sit Vacant

In many major metropolitan areas across the United States, there are far more vacant homes than people experiencing homelessness. This is true in New York City, it’s true in the Bay Area, and as our new report shows, it’s true in Los Angeles. Here, there are 93,000 vacant homes compared to just over 41,000 unhoused people. Our report, the product of a collaboration between UCLA School of Law and the community-based nonprofits Strategic Actions for a Just Economy and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, is perhaps the most detailed look yet at the characteristics of residential vacancies situated in the broader speculative housing market in any city in the United States.

Tenants Take On Philadelphia Gentrifier

Philadelphia–A new and rapidly growing association of residential and commercial tenants of OCF Realty was formed to demand that OCF meet the needs of its tenants during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Since the inception of Tenants of OCF several weeks ago, members have faced a high level of harassment, intimidation and retaliation from OCF and its owner, one of Philadelphia’s top gentrifiers, Ori Feibush. A household of four tenants, who wish to remain anonymous for fear of further retaliation, reported that an OCF employee attempted to enter their home twice without notice, violating Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order while increasing the tenants’ risk of exposure to COVID-19. In one instance, an OCF employee successfully entered the house while only one tenant was home and showering.
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