After years of advocacy by NAHT, in 2000 HUD adopted strong regulations affirming tenants’ right to organize free from management harassment or intimidation, in privately-owned, HUD subsidized apartment complexes. These 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 regulations also establish the right of tenants 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 Public Housing, owned by local housing agencies, which are governed by different regulations). For comprehensive information on forming a tenant association, please visit the Forming a Tenant Group section of our website.
NAHT also persuaded HUD to incorporate by reference the Right to Organize regulations in the standard Model Lease which every HUD tenant signs with their landlord.
HUD has also published the Management Agent Handbook. In Chapter 4, titled “Working with Residents” The handbook defines what actions taken by management against tenants is considered harassment. Both the regulations and the handbook require owners & managers to recognize legitimate tenant unions, as defined in the regulations.
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. Although in principle HUD could fine owners who violate tenants rights, to date this has never occurred, and no owner has been sanctioned under the Notice.