! HE MICHIGAN DAILY
Wednesday, August 27, 1969
flue I WC) I HE MICHIGAN DAILY Wednesday, August 27, 1969
t t uiu''d tl -r ( .fia d-
The primary thrmAu Ofland-
lord response carme in the
courts. Arbor Management was
hi' first realtor to bring r e n t
trikmg tenants to court.
But it has been in the courts
that strikers have won t h e i r
greatest victories thus far. In
the first two eviction cases, for
xampl"., the precedent was set
of allowing jury trials - a
ruling with rent strike steer-
IIg commiitee members felt was
"significant victory" because
ranting of a jury trial indi-
cates that there is a question of
In other words. the ruling al-
lowing jury trial gave tenants
the opportunity to show 1n
court that landlords were, in
part at least, responsible for the
withliolding of rent.
And in the first two cases
brought by Arbor Management,
the tenants did precisely that.
Arbor Management's E d w a n' d
Kloian had asked for $880 from
one group of tenants, but the
court reduced their back pay-
ments to only $400 after hear-
ing testimony of city health
and safety code violations, a
stoppage of heat and alleged
In addition to securing re-
duced rents during the trials';
many tenants were awarded
possession of their apartments.
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In effect, this barred the land-
lord from evicting them for the
duration of their lease.
Even if such tenants do not
make back rent payments as or-
dered by the court, the landlord
must still bring ,legal proceed-
ings for damages-not for evic-
Some landlords point to the
court decisions that order the
tenants to pay at least some of
the back rent and they claim
that the tenant has lost the
case. This is a matter of inter-
The Tenants Union claims
the decisions have been in its
favor. Although the jurys do
not say which evidence they be-
lieve is true, their decision to
reducesthe back rent and award
possession indicates a belief that
tenants do have legitimate con-
Although a tenant is ordered
to pay back rent-even if it is
not reduced-this does not take
him out of the strike. The un-
ion advises the tenant to pay
the rent because the court has
ordered him to do so, and then,
the next month, begin to with-
hold rent once more. Thus the
landlord must again take the
tenant to court and waste mon-
ey, lawyer's fees, court costs
The tenants who belong to
the union are defended by un-
ion lawyers. The lawyers, court
and operating expenses are paid
by a strike fund of nearly $10,-
000 representing individual strik-
er's antes of 10 per cent of a-
one-month rent payment and
contributions from outside citi-
zens and organizations.
But the legal committee of
the Tenants Union -including
many volunteer law students
and several paid lawyers-has
not stopped with merely defend-
ing eviction suits. Union law-
yers, in action separate from
the strike - have brought an
anti-trust suit against the man-
agers' association, charging the
realty firms with conspiring to
avoid competition in the hous-
Although the suit is filed in
the names of eight tenants, they
will take "class action." This
means they represent, as their
suit states, all tenants who are
living in Ann Arbor now, or
have lived here within the last
Seven landlords have also
filed a suit against "the so-called
Tenants Union," charging that
the rent strike involves a con-
spiracy to violate existing and
future leases and to obtain li-
belous articles in The Daily.
The suit charges that the ul-
timate goal of the rent strike is
an attack on the concept of pri-
vate property. Ninety-one de-
fendants are named: twelve are
charged with conspiracy.
The complaint also covers.
besides the 91 strikers, "all or-
ganizations they represent or
belong to, including the so-
called Tenants Union and any-
one involved in it, and all co-
conspirators whether named or
But the Tenants Union has
struck back with a one million
dollar countersuit against the
seven landlords. The union is
charging that the landlords have
violated leases and anti-trust
statutes. The landlords are
charged with "banding together.
in an unreasonable restraint of
trade," breaching leases through
"inadequate facilities," and
of the condition of their prop-
The landlords involved in the
two suits include: Apartments
Limited, Arbor Forest Apart-
ments, Charter Realty, Brady
Anderson, Charlotte Van Cur-
ler, William Van Fossen and
Robert L. Shipman. Both suits
will be tried in court at the
As this supplement goes to
press, a pre-trial hearing deci-
sion on the two conspiracy
cases still is pending. But even
if the Tenants Union is en-
joined, the rent strikers are al-
ready thinking about organizing
a new union in the fall.
"And if we win," says Dale
Berry, head of the legal com-
mittee, "it may prove decisive
for the rent strike."
This fall is considered as the
crucial point of the strike by
both landlords and the Tenants
Union. It will be then when the
union will really show just how
effective it can be and whether
the strike can force the land-
lords to answer their demands.
The Tenants Union says it
will pick up over 2,000 students
in the fall. Already over 1,000 of
last year's freshmen have signed
pledges that they would join the
The strikers are receiving more
and more support each day. City
councilmen and other officials
have publicly supported the.
strikers. Student Government
Council has asked that it be
named as a co-defendant in the
The strike has also a wide base
of support on the campus, win-
ning endorsements by campus
organizations of a wide range
of political beliefs.
These organizations include:
SGC, Graduate Assembly, So-
cial Work Students' Union, En-
gin Council. Young Lawyers
Guild. Black Law Student Alli-
ance. Law Students Civil Rights
Research Council. Northwood
Terrace Association, New Uni-
versity Conference, Citizens for
New Politics, AliceaLloyd Couse
Council, Bursley Mall Council,
Fraternity Representatives As-
sociation, and Interfraternity
Although the University ad-
ministration says it is remaining
neutral, the union has been giv-
en space in the Student Ac-
tivities Building for its offices
and is recognized by SGC as a
Not since the Brooklyn strike
of 1914 when 4,000 angry apart-
ment dwellers withheld rent has
there been such a large collec-
tive effort against a body of
But the Brooklyn strike ended
in failure when the landlords
held out longer than the strik-
"This strike will not end,"
says Katz, "until the union is
of ficially recognized. This is
non-negotiable as far as were
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By NADINE COHODAS
"All I want is a room somewhere - far
away from the cold night air," yearned
one young lady in an old broadway hit.
"Wouldn't it be loverly?" Eliza Doolittle
thought - "an apartment all to myself."
Many University students apparently
share Miss Doolittle's view, although just
how "loverly" apartment living is can be
For the most part, living in apartments
has advantages over other kinds of living
in Ann Arbor - notably eight-month resi-
dence in one of the University's dormitor-
There are several kinds of apartments
available to would-be tenants - new, mod-
ern-equipped buildings, furnished and un-
furnished; whole houses; old subdivided
houses that have been renovated: old sub-
divided houses that haven't been renovat-
ed; and small rooms with a bed, chair,
desk, closet, maybe a window, a n d the
bathroom down the hall.
Each of these different breeds accomo-
dates varying numbers of people. Some are
efficiencies for one person, others one bed-
room for two people, or two and three bed-
room places for up to five people.
Naturally each type of dwelling demands
a rent which varies with the presumed
quality, size and location of the apartment
in question - though not always in the
proportion one thinks most equitable.
Generally; however, one can find a place
within his own price range. A single room
without bathroom or kitchen facilities, for
example, costs $40 or $30 a month. Effi-
ciencies rent for $80-$260 a month (osten-
sibly the $160 spots are nicer than the
cheaper places); and two, three, four or
five man places rent for anywhere from
$150-$360 a month, or roughly $60-$85 per
Better food than dormitories and most
local restaurants is one sure advantage to
apartment living, even if rents are high.
But the drawback, of course, is the dishes
afterwards (unless you're a paper p1ate
user) and the money it takes to stock the
Campus food prices are notoriously ex-
pensive but if you can find a cheap way
out to a suburban shopping center, the
grocery bill can be substantially reduced.
Besides offering opportunities for better
food, apartments usually guarantee privacy
not easily obtained in t h e ready-made,
omni-present dormitory neighborhoods.
But apartment living need not lead to
isolation. In many of the larger apartment
buildings, the walls are thin enough so
your neighbor seems like he's in your living
room with you.
And ati places with thicker walls, you
needn't be destined to spend eight months
of lonely nights either. If you don't live
alone, there are always roommates on
hand and word gets around soon enough
in classes where you live so people c a n
drop by any time. (One advantage to the
University campus is that the physical lay-
out is small enough so that one is never
too far from anyone else.)
Despite the better food, privacy and
neighbors when you want them, a disad-
vantage to any apartment, wherever and
however it is, is actually paying the rent
and most of the time paying utilities and
the telephone bill as well. Perhaps its only
plus point, is that this responsibility guar-
antees mail once a month and provides the
vehicle for getting to know your landlord
Although the University is on the tri-
mester system, most apartments are on the
yearly system and rent must be paid for
a full twelve months even if students are
here only eight. Consequently,- they either
stay here and fill out the lease or sublet
their respective places for the summer at a
cheaper cost than-vthe actual rent and pay
the difference themselves.
In addition, to the rent and utilities, Ann
Arbor tenants are required to pay the ill-
famed damage deposit - usually $50 or
$100 paid before arrival to cover any os-
tensible wreckage to the apartment that
might occur during their sojourn in the
Presumably if only "normal wear and
tear" is inflicted on the place, the money
will be returned. But many landlords ap-
parently think students are capable of be-
ing much more delicate than they are and
the damage deposit often is not refunded.
Recently some of Ann Arbor's most suc-
cessful landlords have come under severe
attack by their tenants for negligence in
meeting building codes - refusing to make
necessary repairs in older apartments es-
pecially - a n d for unnecessarily with-
holding damage deposits.
Despite these drawbacks, however, apart-
ment living has more advantages than oth-
er types of living on campus. The choice
of where to live, of course, is up to each
individual student. But should you decide
to join the ranks of Ann Arbor tenants,
there most certainly is a landlord out there
someplace, pen and lease in hand, ready
to sign you up.
And if you don't like what you've signed
yourself up for, you can always join the
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--- - -
............ . .. . . .
Many of you will be moving into apartments either this fall or next
year in the expectation of gaining more freedom and control over your
own lives. You will soon find that the price you must pay for this freedom
is enduring an oppressive living situation. There is, however, a large and
powerful movement which is confronting this issue .directly: The Ann
Arbor Tenants Union.
The Tenants Union is currently conducting one of the largest rent
strikes in the history of the United States. Instead of paying rent directly
to his landlord, each sriking tenant pays rent into an escrow fund set up
by the Tenants Union. This practice will continue until the major land-
lords formally recognize the T.U. and agree to bargain collectively on
all aspects of the rental situation in Ann Arbor.
In addition to exorbitant rents and the inconvenient and costly 12-
month leases, Ann Arbor tenants have also been plagued by poor
maintenance and handling of complaints, widespread housing code
violations, excessive and illegally withheld damage deposits, utilities
costs, and payment of exorbitant deposits in advance of moving in.
The strike itself expresses the culmination of years of helpless frus-
tration over this rental situation. This situation is due to the failure of
the University and the City to meet their proper responsibilities in pro-
viding moderate and low-cost housing for their citizens, thus leaving
the market open to the collusive action of a small group of wealthy
Because of this failure on the part of both the University and. the
t : i+% +, + -i ..im t :ir- k :. nk a mn--: n: ki+, mnc+ ..ti. %kl a
The Rent Strike has already gained widespread support: over 1,200
tenants have gone on strike, and the strike is supported by most campus
organizations, such as SGC, Graduate Assembly, IFC, and Engineering
Council. The Democratic Party of Ann Arbor and the United Auto Work-
ers support the strike as well. The Strike has won major victories in
court and will continue until its demands are realized.
The success of the rent strike has been built on personal organizing
and decentralized decision-making. The continued success of the strike
depends on organizing a significant portion of all tenants in Ann
Arbor. These new strikers will join the tenants who are already striking
from last year. The intricate process of presenting the rationale for the
strike, its organizational structure, the legal ramifications of withholding
rents, and the goals of the strike will be explained in organizers' work-
shops. Those interested in organizing for the Tenants Union or other-
wise assisting in this effort should call the office (763-3102) or fill out
a form and send it in.
PLEASE CHECK IF YOU WOULD
LIKE TO GET OUR NEWSLETTER
WORK ON THE STRIKE, IN THE FALL
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