Economics/Class Relations

San Francisco renters are unionizing against Big Landlords

By Business Insider

Renters in one of the most expensive housing markets in the United States just scored a big win: the right to organize, and the right to be heard by their landlords.

Last week, San Francisco’s new “Right to Organize” ordinance went into effect, requiring landlords to recognize tenant associations within their properties, attend tenant meetings at least four times per year, and bargain with tenant unions “in good faith.” If landlords fail to comply with the ordinance, renters can apply for a rent reduction as a penalty. The law is the first of its kind in the country.

Aaron Peskin, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, drafted the ordinance after overseeing negotiations between Veritas Investments, the largest landlord in San Francisco, and its tenants. The tenants clamored for Veritas, which is also the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging tenant harassment, to cancel rent debt accumulated during the pandemic. In a statement to Insider, Veritas denied all claims.

“Tenants organized behind what is usually an individual source of shame — debt — and leveraged it as a group to win concessions from Veritas that would not otherwise have been possible,” Brad Hirn of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco told Capital and Main’s Jack Ross.

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