For more than a century, low-income tenants across cities in the United States have protested and organized together against unjust housing conditions. Yet landlords continue to evade accountability, leaving mold, pests, lead paint, unclean water, and innumerable other issues unaddressed. On top of habitability concerns, the past several decades of gentrification have displaced hundreds of thousands of Black and brown residents from their communities. To address these issues, legal reforms have focused on either housing-market regulation or individual rights devoid of effective enforcement mechanisms. These reforms fall short. Tenant power, not just tenant-focused housing reform, should be a concern of policymakers and legal scholars. This Note focuses specifically on rent strikes as an important organizing strategy that the law can and should better support. Legislation supporting rent strikes has the potential to offer tenants powerful tools as they organize for their communities and secure access to quality and affordable housing. This Note proposes a cluster of four legislative proposals that reflect tenants’ ongoing organizing strategies and, if enacted, would enhance tenants’ autonomy in their private bargaining with landlords.
Rent Strikes and Tenant Power: Supporting Rent Strikes in Residential Landlord-Tenant Law,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol120/iss5/4