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Tenant Associations

A tenant association (or tenant organization) may be made up of tenants who live in a certain building or development, or membership may be on a larger scale -- i.e. renters in a city who belong to a county or citywide local tenants' association. These groups are formed and maintained with a number of goals in mind, including:

  • Informing tenants of their rights under local, state, and federal law.
  • Organizing and lobbying on behalf of tenants and tenants' rights, especially at city and county levels of government.
  • Improving tenant-landlord relationships, building conditions, and services for tenants under a "strength in numbers" model.
  • Encouraging regular communication and community awareness among tenants.

Tenant Associations: The Right to Organize

Tenant associations usually hold periodic meetings in order to encourage active tenant participation, and to promote tenants' awareness of the association's role and available services.

Just as most employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees who have joined a labor union, federal and state fair housing laws dictate that landlords cannot take any negative action based solely on a tenants' participation or membership in a tenant association or similar organization. Examples of prohibited landlord conduct include:

  • Arbitrary rent increases;
  • Refusal to make necessary repairs; and
  • Threats of eviction.

In addition, a landlord may not prevent a tenant association from meeting in a common area on the building's premises if other groups are allowed to do so, as long as the circumstances of the meeting (i.e. time, place, noise level) are reasonable.   

Getting Involved:

If you are a tenant in a large residential building or development, or if you rent your home in a mid- to large-size city, you may have the opportunity to get involved in a tenant association or organization. To find out more, contact your city's housing department.  Some examples of tenant organizations include:

Next Steps
Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help you
navigate any landlord-tenant issues.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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