By Workers World Today Partners
The best way to bring the slum-like conditions to the attention of your landlord is by forming a tenants association. Why it works? The landlord feels the pressure when a large portion of its rental income threatens action. With an association, tenants can demand repairs and may be entitled to an abatement or a decrease in rent, when there is a decrease in services. Not only can a tenants association demand repairs and maintenance, they can prevent harassment and illegal evictions and encourage cooperation among the occupants of a building.
If a lawsuit is brought, tenants can ask the court to appoint an administrator to manage the property in place of the owner. According to the New York City Housing Court, at least one-third of the tenants of a building can bring an Article 7A proceeding when for at least 5 days, dangerous conditions exist, such as rodent infestation and the lack of heat or hot water.
Although it is not mandatory, it is necessary to elect a governing body and to create and abide by the by-laws for the tenants association. This way, a select few can meet with a landlord-tenant attorney, appear at court hearings, and sign on behalf of the tenants association.
Tenants associations, with the help of a landlord-tenant attorney can take advantage of the Tenant Interim Lease program (TIL), which offers low-income tenant associations the opportunity to purchase their apartments as cooperatives. According to NYC HPD, through this program, tenants living in city-owned buildings can purchase their apartments for an affordable price. Tenants will have to abide by the laws of forming a cooperative, by the requirements of the program, and they will have to be organized for the program to work well.
Tenant associations can also be involved in Article 78 proceedings. When appealing an administrative decision, such as removal from the TIL program, tenant associations, with the help of a landlord-tenant attorney, can seek a favorable outcome.
For tenants in city-owned buildings, funding is available for tenant associations through the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Tenant Participation Activity program. According to the NYCHA, funding is geared toward the benefit of NYCHA residents for activities like skills training, family days, and to get office supplies for the association.
Funding for the tenants association can come from member dues, individual donors, fundraisers, or non-profit organizations. Consult a landlord-tenant attorney for more information about forming a tenant association or whether you need further advice for the benefit of your community.
The Workers World Today is a free publication that empowers all workers, regardless of their social or political affiliations. Distributed throughout New York City, our paper has a mission to educate workers and provide them with relevant information pertinent to the workforce such as workers’ compensation, discrimination on the job, workers’ rights, and more.