The Chicago Tenants Bill of Rights only goes so far in protecting the rights of individual tenants. In some cases, the law does not offer simple ways for tenants to resolve their housing problems. When faced with a difficult landlord or situation, building organizing can broaden an individual tenant’s influence and power. Tenants acting together are more capable of asserting their rights. For instance, city officials are more likely to respond to a group of tenants demanding that the city attorney takes their landlord to court for code violations, than a lone tenant with the same demand.
Tenant associations have successfully won concessions from both the courts and landlords. The Warranty of Habitability, the court precedence that paved the way for the passage of a tenant’s right to use rent withholding, was won by a tenant association. Other tenant associations have achieved rent reductions or in a few cases, have even been able to purchase the building from the landlord with the help of outside funding sources. Tenant associations have a long history of leading the way to better circumstances for all renters.
Besides being better able to assert tenant rights, tenant associations can help improve the quality of renters lives in other ways. Tenants have organized food buying clubs, exchanged day care, obtained group legal assistance or reduced criminal activity around the building. Working with other people facing similar problems offers the best hope for changing the world in which we live and improving our lives and the lives of those around us.
Learn more about how to Organize Your Building today.
Learn more about the Affordable Housing Preservation Program.
Read some of our recent Building Success Stories.