Stuart Katz


A rent strike, if taken seriously by its proponents and not used solely to attract the attention of sympathetic politicos, can be an extremely powerful weapon. It is a strategy of economic pressure, forcing landlords to accede to specific demands through the only language they understand: the loss of profits and the inability to meet financial commitments. Since January, 1969, tenants in Ann Arbor, Michigan, have, through the Ann Arbor Tenants Union, been conducting a rent strike against several major private property owners and managers. The strike is one of the largest ever organized in the United States-at one point last spring, 1200 strikers had paid more than $140,000 into an escrow fund. The role that law played in the strike is one of the important, and perhaps unique, contributions that the Ann Arbor experience has made io the fast-growing tenants' rights movement and to other major social reform movements as well. My purpose here is to explore that role.

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