The New Tenants' Rights Movement
An article by Jimmy Tobias finds no shortage of anecdotes to relate about renters who faced the brink of eviction or homelessness, not to mention other symptoms of a bad landlord, like vermin infestation, before becoming politicized for the cause of tenants' rights.
From Massachusetts and Minnesota to California and Colorado, renters are in revolt. They are organizing in individual cities from coast to coast to form tenants’ unions and push new rent regulations, including rent control, just-cause eviction and similar policies. They are working in state legislatures to overturn long-standing bans on commonsense tenant protections.
According to Tobias, in addition to a core set of policy demands, these tenants' rights organizations are unified by a national campaign called Homes for All.
For instance, the Colorado Homes for All chapter is rallying to support "a 'warranty of habitability' bill in the state legislature that effectively allows tenants to go on rent strike if their housing is infested with pests, in disrepair or otherwise fails to meet adequate standards." That goal is a step toward a bill in the state legislature that would allow rent control (Colorado, like many states, has a state law that bans rent control at the local level). "At least 27 states currently have laws on the books that explicitly bar city governments from establishing rent control and other forms of tenant protections," according to Tobias.
The article is of the feature-length variety, so there is a lot more storytelling and data to share. The article also addresses the elephant in the room: the landlord and real estate lobbies.