Updated: Jul 17, 2022
NORTH HOUSTON, TEXAS— North Houston tenants recover stolen security deposit through direct action after it was wrongfully withheld in September.
On March 29, with the end of his lease term approaching, tenant Jamie notified management at Better World Properties that he would be vacating his unit at Amir Apartments. He paid the remaining two months of rent, in order to fulfill his side of the contract. On April 28, Jamie and his partner Heidi received a notice that their security deposit would be withheld due to “insufficient move-out notice” and “re-letting fee from last month’s rent.” Jamie attempted to speak to property management about it, but they continued to make this false claim and refused to return the deposit. Therefore, on Saturday, September 4, 2021, Jamie, Heidi, and a dozen other HTU members delivered demands to the apartment management. Days later, on September 9, the complex apologized by email and repaid the deposit in full. Reflecting on this experience, Jaime said,
I would just say to people in the same situation; do not just walk away from what is yours, stand up for it!
It is not uncommon for landlords to attempt to keep part or all of their tenant’s security deposit citing property damage or lease violations. Tenants attempt to talk with their landlords to understand the reason behind their breach of contract, but most do not attain results. It is through the power of action and organizing that tenants are able to hold their landlord accountable to hold up their end of the lease contract.
Houston Tenants Union is an organization of tenants in Houston, Texas committed to collective direct action, independence and rank-and-file democracy. Houston Tenants Union launched in June 2019, initiated by tenant organizers who were previously a part of Southwest Defense Network, Third Ward Defense Network, 2100 Memorial Campaign, Industrial Workers of the World - General Defense Committee, and other housing/tenant and labor movement work.