When buildings are in bad shape, landlords regularly cast themselves as innocent victims who would make repairs but whose hands are tied by either low-paying, barbaric tenants or excessive city regulations. Recently, we’ve seen landlords go so far as to blame mold, fallen ceilings, and failed plumbing on tenants’ bad parenting. The fact that a landlord can, with a straight face, blame tenants for such pervasive problems is so insulting it is laughable.
Recently, our allies at CASA saw landlord Chestnut Holdings strike back in a different way. When the community group brought tenants to protest the major Bronx landlord, Chestnut held a competing rally across the street. The crowd at the pro-landlord rally included managers and contractors for the company, i.e., many people who are on the landlord’s payroll.
Thankfully, it has been difficult for the major Bronx landlord to beat organized tenants at their own game. Earlier this month, a CASA-led coalition delivered a petition. The petition was signed by over 300 tenants from all over the Bronx and demanded consistent heat and hot water, quality repair work, regular extermination, better security, and an end to fees and rent hikes. Chestnut, in turn, distributed a petition naming organizers as “intimidators and rabble-rousers.” Just 28 people signed it.
While landlord antics may be amusing, tactics like this are an all too common means of pitting tenant-against-tenant or tenant-against-HPD in order to weaken organizing efforts and divide and conquer. Beware! The tenants that we work with recognize that these antics as petty and refuse to withstand such divisive measures. We will continue to fight to elucidate these unscrupulous practices and uphold tenants’ rights!