Tenant Power Returns

In our new Under the Lens series—Tenant Power Returns—we’ll dive deep into the past, present, and future of tenant organizing. We’ll take a closer look at the components of what many organizers call a tenants bill of rights, and give you accessible ways to share them with others, plus lots more. This Under the Lens series launched in November 2022 and will run for several weeks. For more stories like this, sign up for our newsletter.

A view from below of the girders supporting a bridge.

Is a YIMBY/Tenant Activist Bridge Possible?

A culture war between housing justice advocates and YIMBYs began in 2014. While the groups have different priorities, they do have shared interests. Can they be allies or will the habitual quarreling keep them at odds?

How Organizers Won a Tenants Bill of Rights in Miami-Dade County

Responding to tenants’ top concerns, organizers pivoted from affordability issues to landlord accountability and won a package of new tenant protections.
A close-up view of two electronic doorbells on a brick wall. The bricks are painted red and blue in a pattern that the viewer is too close to to see. The doorbells, which are grubby-looking, have paper stickers next to them reading Apartment #1 or Apartment #2.

Is Everything in Your Lease Legal? Quite Possibly Not

Some leases plainly contradict state law or include questionable, punitive, or egregiously anti-tenant clauses.
A patchwork map of the continental U.S., with a different fabric for each state. Some fabrics are solids, some prints, tending toward stylized florals. The state lines have been embroidered with contrasting thread colors.

What Are Your Landlord’s Legal Obligations? Depends on Where You Live

Landlord-tenant relations are governed by a mix of laws at all levels of government and can vary a lot.
Two campaign signs stand together near the base of a monument in Portland, Maine. The sign at right reads "Say NO to Rent Control (Again)!" The sign on the left has a red arrow pointing to the other sign, and the text says: "Your (still) rising rents paid for that lawn sign!"

How Portland, Maine, Passed Rent Control

Organizers drew broad support with a multi-pronged campaign and found ways to get signatures in a pandemic to win rent stabilization and a slate of other progressive laws.
An ad for Shelterforce's webinar, "Fighting Back Against Corporate Landlords." We had four speakers.

Fighting Back Against Corporate Landlords—A Shelterforce Webinar

Shelterforce recently hosted a conversation about how to fight, and win, against corporate landlords and their extractive business models. Watch the video or read the transcript.
On a bulletin board or thick cardboard backing are taped 11 clippings of news headlines, cartoons, and newsletter covers, all about the tenant organizing movement of the 1970s and '80s.

The Rise and Fall of the National Tenants Union

The National Tenants Union fought for tenant rights in the 1970s and early 1980s. One of the union’s founders reflects on the organization and what we might learn from those times.
One man holds a microphone and raises his other hand while speaking outside, and behind him, a person holds a white and black sign.

Organized Tenants Are Baaaaack

After a lull in the 1990s, the tenants rights movement reemerged and has only gained strength. What caused the resurgence and what do tenants’ prospects look like?
An illustration highlighting the 6 policies tenants are fighting for, including good cause eviction, right to habitability, right to counsel, rent regulation, tenant opportunity to purchase, and right to organize.

Tenant Protections 101

Tenant advocates have long been pushing for a “tenants bill of rights” to codify rules that protect renters from landlords. Here’s a rundown of the top protections housing justice activists say need to be included.
A group of adults and children stand with colorful orange, yellow and blue signs. One sign reads, "Stop increasing our Rent."

Top 6 Tenant Protections Renters Are Fighting For

Tenants are organizing together with increased urgency to get legal protections passed in their towns, cities, and states. What are the top protections tenants are fighting for?
An illustration show tenants rallying on the streets. Some have signs that read "Rent is Too Damn High." The illustration is part of Shelterforce's series "Tenant Power Returns."

Tenants Rights: It’s Not a Moment, It’s a Movement

In "Tenant Power Returns," Shelterforce examines how the energy and focus in the housing world is returning to tenant organizing.