Organize Your Building
We support Black and Brown communities in Oakland through Know Your Rights workshops, anchored in a Serve The People Model. Through this model tenants are encouraged to organize and take action against illegal evictions, harassment, rent increases and enforcing repairs. We know that protections for tenants expand when we are self determined and proactive in fighting to stay in our homes. By learning about existing tenant laws and protections, as well as fighting collectively with our neighbors, we move power back in our communities in face of displacement here in Oakland.
Learn more about the powerful Serve the People Model that we use to support tenants with their housing issues while continuing to build tenant power.
When we fight, we win!
Tenants knowing and exercising their rights together allows them collective power. A lot of the times, many of the issues you’re having with your landlord are similar to issues that other tenants are having with the landlord. If you live in a property with working class people, people of color, and families this is more true. If there’s an opportunity to collectively exercise your rights together, the first step is to build relationships with your neighbors.
Do tenants in your building share the same problem? Working together with your neighbors can maximize impact. Talk to your neighbors about their experiences. Establish a goal (what issues do you want resolved?) Invite your neighbors to a meeting to talk about your experiences, issues that need to be resolved, and get to know each other.
Attend a tenant rights workshop to get more information about your rights and how to organize with your neighbors.
You can also check out this amazing organizing guide put together by a range of folks in the Homes for All campaign in the Right to the City alliance we are a part of!
Collective action, or organizing, is when you combine your efforts with your neighbors, family or friends, for a common set of goals. All of the information in this booklet can be used by individuals to enforce their rights as tenants. However, you can also take these actions collectively as a way to build greater power while protecting your home.
Working with your neighbors helps you improve your situation in a number of ways. Working together with other tenants makes you a stronger force when standing up to your landlord and getting your needs met. Organizing into a group can give you greater protection from retaliation.
Attend one of our tenant rights workshops to get more info and help with your case.
- Set up your first meeting and invite all interested neighbors. You can make flyers to stick under doors or in common spaces. However, beware that the landlord could find out what is happening before the meeting occurs.
- Don’t invite your landlord to the meeting, or the building manager. It’s best for tenants to get to know each other without the pressure of a building manager present.
- Make sure your meetings have a clear goal and a facilitator or someone else who can guide the group towards that goal.
- Write down the main decisions you made in the meeting, and send them out to everyone. It’s often easiest to have someone take notes on these while the meeting is happening so you don’t forget.
- Be aware of group dynamics.
- Bring some snacks and take time before or after the meeting to chat with your neighbors a bit. Folks who know each other better get along better and are more resilient in the face of backlash from the landlord.
- Handle all conflict openly, immediately and with respect.
- For example, if one person talks the whole time at the meeting, it can be a big turn off for others. You can solve this by having people raise their hands while the facilitator calls on them if it is a big group.
- Decide when to organize publicly and when to exercise secrecy. The sooner your landlord knows you are organizing, the sooner they can retaliate against you. That being said, if you can prove your landlord is retaliating against you for organizing you may be able to defend yourself using California Civil Code 1942.5.
Directly pressure your landlord into meeting your demands:
Deliver collective letter in person with people to support you.
Have other tenants, friends, and family call your landlord and ask to meet the demands (phone blasts).