Friday, June 3, 2011

Learning to Fight Back

As a member of 9to5 Atlanta I have learned a variety of skills including how to organize, research, and fight for my rights and also how to engage in advocacy lobbying. When my landlord refused to respond to my request to bring the housing I was staying in up to code I was forced to use the skills and knowledge I acquired from attending 9to5 trainings and workshops.

Citizens of every community have the right to fair, safe and sanitary housing. Some owners of rental properties in low-income neighborhoods are providing sub-standard housing conditions and neglecting sometimes numerous housing code violations. It seems they think that a tenant will not complain or exercise their legal rights due to his or her current financial situation.

My personal experience was a housing code violation of standing sewage on the outside of the property. The owner continues to ignore the problem. I decided to take action and organize. I contacted the neighborhood association, city code enforcement, the county health department and eventually the city council.

Pending multiple violations and legal notices, the owner fixed the problem and we settled the issue out of court.  A retaliatory eviction is when an owner evicts a tenant who has exercised his or her legal rights; this is an unlawful eviction.  Many tenants feel as though they have to subject themselves to these unsafe conditions for fear of reprisal. There are powerful resources to help those whose rights have been violated. Landlord tenant laws protect both parties.  I will continue to use the knowledge and trainings I gained from 9to5 to fight for my rights.

-Rochelle Payton, 9to5 Atlanta member

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