Can a tenants’ association help you with your rent and do they have any legal rights?
Some renters struggling to pay rent are banding together. They hope by forming a tenants’ association they can protect themselves.
A tenants’ association is a group of renters who come together to try and collectively negotiate issues or concerns with management.
But before forming one, there are a few things to consider.
Mariah Roller believes there’s power in numbers; that’s why she formed her own tenants’ association when she and neighbors couldn’t reach property management.
“We were having our emails ignored and we weren’t finding any solutions,” she said.
While she’s still earning a paycheck, that’s not the case for everyone.
“I do have three roommates here. Two of them have lost 100% of their income, so they’re completely without right now,” Roller said.
While she’s happy management is now offering payment plans, she says it’s not enough for the people going without.
“If they have zero dollars, you can’t make a payment plan off of zero dollars; your payment plan is zero,” she said.
Attorney Carmen Dellutri says these associations can be very effective if they approach it the right way.
“In other words, if the tenant community gets up and says we’re not gonna pay our rent and there’s nothing you can do to make it happen, bad approach,” he said. “A great negotiation works when I give a little more than I wanted, you give a little more than you wanted, but together we work out a plan.”
As far as a legal leg is concerned, Dellutri says the association doesn’t have any standing in the lease.
“The contract is between the individual tenant and the management company, it’s not with the tenant association. So the tenant association can’t just insert itself into that contact,” he said.
As for what’s next, Dullutri says, “I hope they continue to respond. I hope they take a more active role in working with us, but so far, we’re making a little bit of progress.”