Sunday, July 29, 2007

Petition to Support the DC "Right of Tenants to Organize" Law

Show your support for the tenants at the Norwood in the face of lanlord intimidation tactics. There is already a law protecting tenants rights in the District, we are demanding that it be enforced. Leave a comment and we will deliver it to Mayor Fenty with the petition.

July 29, 2007
Dear Mayor Fenty:

The “Right of Tenants to Organize” law became effective on September 19, 2006. This law gives tenants the right to organize, meet in common lobby areas, and post information regarding tenant rights and general tenant association activities.

I support this law, and oppose the illegal and abusive actions of landlords to intimidate, harass, evict, and prevent tenants from organizing. Please enforce the law and support the Norwood tenants by defending their right to organize.
29 de julio de 2007
Estimado Alcalde Fenty:

La ley “Derechos de los inquilinos para organizarse” entro en vigencia el 19 de septiembre de 2006. Esta ley de otorga el derecho as los inquilinos para que se organicen, reunirse en el edificio y compartir información sobre los derechos de inquilinos y asuntos de la asociación de inquilinos.

Yo apoyo esta ley
, y me opongo a la intimidación y acciones ilegales abusivas departe de los dueños contra los inquilinos incluyendo, molestar, y desalojar a los inquilinos porque se están organizando. Por favor haga que se cumpla con la ley y apoye a los inquilinos del edificio Norwood prestando su apoyo defendiendo sus derechos para organizarse.

Tenants Hold Marathon 24-Hour Meeting to Exercise Their Rights

For Immediate Release: July 29, 2007

Norwood Owners Again Threaten Tenants With Eviction

Norwood tenant association organizers are again being threatened with eviction, after a lemonade sit-in protesting a month-long broken elevator. In response, the association is holding a twenty-four hour marathon meeting in the building lobby from Sunday, July 29 at 4p.m. until Monday July 30 at 4p.m., to educate tenants of their rights to organize without fear of intimidation or eviction threats from property owners.

The City's 2006 Tenants Right to Organize Act, sponsored by Councilmember Jim Graham, gives tenants the right to organize for their common welfare, to meet in building common areas, and to distribute literature. Building owners are subject to a $10,000 civil fine for each instance of interference with their rights to organize.

Despite this, on July 24, selected Norwood tenants received thirty-day eviction notices from owner's attorney Kevin Kane, demanding that tenants stop "loitering" and refrain from using the lobby for any organizing purposes.

"We are holding this twenty-four hour marathon meeting to demonstrate District tenants’ rights, and to tell the owners these rights cannot be violated,” notes board member Randy Green. Affordable rental housing continues to be a dwindling commodity in D.C. as landlords are on a condominium conversion binge, threatening both safe and habitable housing while ignoring their legal obligations to maintain buildings. The Norwood is a prime example. After The Tenacity Group proposed condo conversion in January 2007, tenants rejected the offer, and building conditions have markedly deteriorated.

As is their legal right, Norwood tenants want a safe and decent place to live, such as a working elevator and an end to grave vermin infestation problems. The association says NO to intimidation, YES to lemonade in the lobby, and YES to tenant organization.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

After lemonade: Norwood Owners Try to Evict Tenants

On Tuesday, July 24th, two Norwood Tenants Association board members were served with a quit or vacate letter from the owner's attorney, Kevin Kane..

Norwood Tenants Say "We're Not Leaving"

The letter states that tenants were in violation of their lease and demands that tenants stop "loitering in common areas of the building including the lobby" and "utilizing [the lobby] for anything other than entering and exiting the building." The letter went on to say that the tenants in question were "harassing other tenants in the building," a claim that is patently false and baseless. According to the letter, tenants will be evicted after 30 days if they do not "cure the violations by...refraining from loitering ... not setting-up any table, display or other object in the lobby of the Building."

As a duly registered tenants association protected by the DC Right of Tenants to Organize Amendment Act of 2006 (DC ST § 42-3505.06), tenants have the right to organize and join, meet, or assist for the purpose of mutual aid and protection. The law states that no owner or agent shall interfere with the right of a tenant to conduct the activities related to the establishment or operation of a tenant organization including distributing literature in common areas or such as the lobby, and holding meetings in common areas. Such violations are subject to a $10,000 fine.

By threatening tenant association board members with eviction, the building owner is engaging in intimidation and harassment tactics to discourage tenants from organizing. Our goal as a tenants association is to ensure a safe and decent place to live. This includes a working elevator and no more building-wide bed bug, roach and mice infestations. We have no intention to give in to such intimidation will continue to serve lemonade and organize. Our extensive tenant petition (lawsuit) details many other landlord intimidation tactics and deplorable conditions that are allowed to fester in the building. This notice to quit or vacate follows a pattern of continual landlord and management harassment of tenants, and we again demand that it cease.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please respond to this post.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Norwood Tenants Say "We're Not Leaving"

Hold Lemonade Sit-In, to Protest Broken Elevator in Sweltering Heat
For Immediate Release: July 11, 2007

Norwood Tenants Say "We're Not Leaving"; Hold Lemonade Sit-In, to Protest Broken Elevator in Sweltering Heat

At the Norwood Apartments in Northwest DC , the elevator has been out of service for one month, the hottest of the year. Many tenants have been without air conditioning for even longer. Making the best out of a difficult situation, starting today July 11, 2007, the Norwood Tenants Association will hold a lemonade-sit-in at the building lobby to greet fatigued residents from 3pm to 7pm, every day until the elevator is fixed. Residents will be greeted with a cold refreshment before they venture up the stairs in the nearly 100 degree heat.

Tenants have been forced to lug strollers, bikes, groceries and laundry up seven stories of stairs since June 14, 2007, when a resident was trapped in the elevator. Shortly after, the DCRA cited the building owner for numerous elevator safety violations. Despite tenant complaints and mounting fines, management has moved at a snails pace in making repairs.

The Norwood Apartments is an 84 unit rent-controlled building in the Logan Circle area, which was the subject of a condo-conversion pitch in January 2007. The tenants refused to discuss condo conversion until building maintenance problems were fixed.

In addition to the elevator woes, many tenants are battling bedbugs, mice, mold, no heat or air conditioning, persistent gas leaks, and security problems, with little or no help from management. We tenants are expressing our absolute right to stay in our homes, and calling on the landlord to make repairs.

The reductions in service at the Norwood can be seen as de facto eviction tactics aimed at longstanding residents. "We are holding this lemonade-sit-in to show the landlord that we won't be bullied into leaving," said Norwood Tenant Association board member, David Fabian. Affordable rental housing is a dwindling commodity in DC, and for some landlords, the urge to convert to condos blinds them from their duty to provide safe and habitable housing. The tenants at the Norwood Apartments stand in solidarity in saying 'We're Not Leaving!' (¡No nos vamos!)

TENAC strongly supports the Norwood and their tenants’ association, in their long and valiant struggle, and salutes their excellent leadership.

P.O. BOX 7237 WASHINGTON, DC 20044 (202) 628-3688
WEBSITE: E-MAIL: tenacdc (at)