Do Tenants Have The Legal Right To Organize In New York State?
Lately, we've heard a lot lately about workers at Starbucks and Amazon organizing, but what about tenants. Do residents of a rental building or community have the legal right to organize meetings to discuss their shared issues with landlords? The New York Attorney General Letitia James has issued guidance to law enforcement officers around the state about tenants' rights.
The Office of the Attorney General sent a memo to law enforcement about how to handle landlords, superintendents, or other individuals managing rental properties when it comes to the residents holding organized meetings in a building or on a property's common grounds.
The Attorney General made it clear that any law enforcement officer who shows up to a tenants' meeting must have knowledge of Real Property Law § 230.
Landlords are prohibited from interfering with the right of a tenant to form, join, or participate in the lawful activities of any organization formed to protect the rights of tenants.
Also, landlords cannot punish or otherwise retaliate against tenants who organize. Tenants can reach out to other tenants with information about organizing. Tenants can also utilize an attorney or other organizer to set up meetings on their behalf.
As New Yorkers grapple with unprecedented rent increases and an increasingly difficult rental market, we are seeing some landlords use concerning tactics. We have seen reports of landlords calling the police on tenants for gathering and organizing in their own buildings — actions that are well within the parameters of the law. Every tenant should feel comfortable exercising their right to organize without fear of legal retaliation. Landlords cannot use our law enforcement officers as tools to bully and threaten tenants, and my office will work to ensure that local sheriffs and law enforcement departments understand the rights of tenants across the state.
You can find more information here.