Right To Organize

 

In 2002, after years of advocacy, HUD adopted strong Right to Organize regulations, affirming and protecting the rights of tenants in HUD-assisted multifamily housing to organize their neighbors and collectively address issues in their buildings free from management harassment or intimidation. HUD tenants also persuaded HUD to incorporate by reference the Right to Organize regulations in the standard Model Lease that every HUD tenant signs with their landlord.

Legitimate Tenant Associations and Protected Activities

The Right to Organize regulations define a “legitimate” tenants association, which must be a group that “meets regularly, operates democratically, is representative of all tenants in the development, and completely independent of owners and their agents”.

The Right to Organize regulations also provide a list of activities that HUD tenants have the right to perform in order to establish, promote, participate in and operate a tenant organization. Examples of these activities include the right to meet without management present, to leaflet, door knock, post flyers, and invite in outside organizers and attorneys to help tenants organize and assert their rights.

These regulations do not apply to tenants in Public Housing, which is owned by local housing authorities and governed by different regulations. Tenants in Public Housing that has been converted to private ownership through the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) also have similar yet slightly different organizing protections from those which govern HUD-assisted multifamily housing. Click here to view the RAD tenant organizing rights.

Enforcing the Right to Organize

As outlined in the Management Agent Handbook, it is illegal for building owners and property managers to violate the organizing rights of HUD tenants. Both the Right to Organize regulations and the handbook require owners and managers to recognize legitimate tenant associations, as defined in the regulations.

In Chapter 4, titled “Working with Residents”, the handbook defines what actions taken by management against tenants is considered harassment. Examples of these prohibited actions include: 

  • Denying an accessible meeting place for tenant meetings
  • Sending management representatives to tenant meetings when tenants have not invited them
  • Penalizing tenants for utilizing their organizing rights through eviction, the threat of eviction, or withholding other entitlements
  • Attempting to influence the decisions of tenant organization leaders through bribes or preferential treatment
  • Forming a competing tenant organization under the control of the owner or property manager
  • Sexual harassment of tenants by owners or property managers

Getting HUD to enforce these regulations has been another story. Recently, HUD published a Notice to owners and their managers highlighting the Right to Organize regulations and Management Agent Handbook requirement, and spelling out sanctions for owners that violate tenants’ rights. The Notice also establishes a procedure for tenants to file complaints about violations with their local HUD office.

  • Debra Ross
    commented 2021-07-15 14:11:55 -0400
    Do these rules for Oakland housing authority

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