Frequently Asked Questions:
Who is a tenant?
Anyone who does not control their own housing, traditionally renters, but also unhoused tenants and incarcerated tenants. For the purposes of our organization, anyone who is not a landlord is a tenant and welcome in our union.
I received a "notice to vacate", is this an eviction?
No, you have not been evicted and are still entitled to due process. Your landlord is likely to pursue an eviction or may already have, however is trying to avoid that process which requires more time and money. You still have a right to a hearing in eviction court, which you will receive notice for after the “notice to vacate”. The timeline between this and eviction can be just a few weeks and usually less than a month in Houston.
I have not received a notice to vacate, eviction notice or any other official notice, but my landlord changed my locks, is this legal?
No, it is illegal and a matter of your stolen property inside the premises. You are entitled to an eviction process, and probably a lot more if they are doing this. Contact us.
My landlord is not doing repairs, should I withhold my rent?
Maybe, but not alone! Contact us.
Are you a legal resource?
No, we are not a form of legal aid. We do have members who are lawyers and helpful in this regard, but these are our regular members of our union. We do have legal protection in case you are evicted or otherwise retaliated against when organizing, but this is for people already seeking out a solution in direct action. We have come to find that courts are not a place we often find justice in. So, while we will go to court sometimes, we're not the best option if you are purely looking to resolve your issues in court and exclusively looking for legal counsel.
How are you funded?
We are predominantly member-funded with a very small overhead. We have no professional or paid staff.
How is your organization run?
By tenants. We aim for a living democracy made up of rank-and-file tenant unionists. We want to build up the leadership capacity of everyone collectively, and offer free public organizer training every 2-3 months, as well as by request for organizations. Follow our social media for details.
We believe in self-organization, meaning every tenant is free to organize their neighborhood and complex as they feel is needed. We aim for a city-wide multi-local structure where tenants are organized into locals by their neighborhoods and can meet directly with their most immediate neighbors. This strengthens our relationship with each other and provides support across the city, and gives us a strategic advantage. We want you to build the union you want to see and feel the freedom to do so.
When and where do you meet?
Houston Tenants Union has our city-wide General Meeting the first Thursday of every month at the Montrose Center 401 Branard St, Houston, TX 77006, 7 - 9 PM, in Room 114. This space is wheelchair accessible and ADA compliant.
In between our monthly general meetings, we have local meetings, committee meetings, trainings and regular conference calls.
I'm 5 minutes from Houston, is that Houston enough?
Yes. Houston is massive area-wise and has a number of geographical problems that can be hard to overcome, but yes, if you get TV/Radio from Houston, or you are from any part of the Greater Houston metropolitan area by most measures, we’ve got your back.
How can you help me get my problem solved?
In short, tenant power. We believe that tenants coming together is the best solution to the problems that tenants face today. We have an arsenal of tools that use people power to put pressure on your landlord to give into our demands. Sometimes this is complicated and the timeframe and results can vary, but we’ve seen our methods be tried and tested. We believe collective direct action by tenants makes a real difference in the lives of people facing landlord abuse and displacement.
What do you believe in? Are you political?
We are first and foremost independent of all other groups, especially the two big political parties. We do not endorse candidates, and we don’t view “politics” purely as the terrain of elected officials, but instead as people fighting back in their everyday lives.
We are against all the forms of discrimination which tenants face, including but not limited to racial and national oppression, xenophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, all forms of queerphobia, anti-semitism, and the oppression of disabled people. We acknowledge the property with which the landlord extracts rent from exists on stolen land of the Indigenous Karankawa people.
We are uncompromising in our belief that tenant power can win, that housing is a human right, and advocating for a world where we can live without landlords and rent. We don’t agree on everything, and can put aside a lot while we get to work against our landlords, but we think tenants uniting against their landlords is already political.