HOW TENANTS CAN ORGANIZE
Is your landlord or building owner violating any housing acts? If you think so, here are tips on what you can do to fight back, legally and efficiently. 1- Build a team. Talk to other tenants who are equally fed up. Gather a list of leaders inside the building. 2- Do it quietly. Some managers and landlords will attempt to evict tenants who complain and disrupt any attempt to organize. Set a meeting. 3- Think of a test. Ask landlords to repair something that is a basic living right, like working bathrooms, leaks or elevators. Check the New York City Department of Housing Preservation Web site for a list of what landlords must do to keep up to code. nyc.gov/hpd 4- Approach the building manager. Set a formal meeting with building management to document the request for repairs. Get all facts together and a list of demands. Make sure you role play the meeting in advance so that you are prepared. Give them a strict but fair deadline to complete repairs. 5- Evaluate. Monitor their work. On the day of the deadline, assess the repairs to determine if the demands have been met. If they have, rejoice and ask for more. If they haven’t, get tougher. 6- Involve potential allies. Contact HPD or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. Certain regulators inside these organizations are there to ensure landlords maintain proper building codes and services. 7- Don’t give up. If things appear slow, remember, you’ve come this far. 8- Decide whether the best course of action is court or letting the city or federal government help. If the landlord has met requirements but things are still in disrepair and living conditions below standards, tenants need to decide if they want to take the landlord to court. Keep holding meetings to hold them accountable. 9- Let the landlord know you’re not going away. Any communication with the landlord that firmly states you know your rights as tenants could lead to quicker repairs. 10- Keep the faith. Stay organized, and keep pressing for change. As Melendez says, “The battle never ends.” Solidify a working relationship with the landlord. Keep requesting things until there’s nothing left to request. Then relax. Have a party. Ask the landlord to pay.