Since the housing bubble burst at the end of 2007, many hard working men and women were faced with uncertain futures as they helplessly watched their homes foreclose. The housing credit bust also caused America’s economy to plummet into a harsh recession, further complicating matters for low-income residents. Renters are estimated to make up about 40 percent of those who have faced eviction due to a foreclosed property. While the United States government has taken measures to ensure that tenants’ rights are not violated, several support systems have arisen to represent the growing number of evicted families.
Groups Against Eviction
Local communities have turned to “neighborhood watch” style gatherings to discuss and combat the eviction crisis. One such group, Eviction Free San Francisco, has met success through diplomacy and protests of unjust eviction practice. The group presents itself out of a need for “direct action against displacement” and “for housing justice and the city we love,” according to its mission statement.
In August of 2014, the San Francisco group protested the alleged unjust displacement of 20 families, including children and non-English speaking residents. According to their website, it’s just one of many situations where landlords get away with unreasonable evictions by hiding behind “shady property managers” and “walls of obfuscation.”
Tenants Rights Groups
Private and government sponsored information groups have arisen to help keep tenants informed of their rights before things turn sour. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has set up a portal site to direct users to state and local laws and regulations regarding tenant rights.
The Cleveland Tenant Organization is one example of a non-government funded resource for renters, offering advice and Money Tips, as well as advocating for the homeless and displaced. The organization has also worked to resolve tenant-landlord disputes and combating discrimination in housing in one of the areas hit hardest by the housing meltdown.
Legal advice for tenants is available online at large aggregate sites such as NOLO.com and Avvo.com, and also from local and state sites like the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and OhioLegalServices.org. Furthermore, many attorneys offer a free consultation for legal advice about tenant laws.
Other groups, such as the National Housing Law Project, have existed well before the housing crisis and provide additional resources to the evicted. The NHLP was established in 1968 and was formed to help poor and needy families obtain affordable housing and improve existing housing conditions. Their website also acts as a portal for important legal news and the latest developments.
One of the easiest ways to get involved with tenants rights is to write to a local congressman. Laws such as the 2009 Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act were enacted through lobbying from the ground up, including written petitions. After the PTFA was passed, state laws such as the Disclosure of Foreclosure to Prospective Tenants Act were enacted to further enhance tenant rights, thanks to the actions of involved citizens and local lawmakers.