Nora Grace-Flood, NH Independent Sept. 8, 2023
A megalandlord has walked back on threats to evict 16 tenants and agreed to negotiate on lease security, rent stability and living conditions — after members of the city’s first legally recognized tenants union used public and legal pressure to hang on to their homes.
Ocean Management, one of New Haven’s largest property management-landlord-real estate investment outfits, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Blake St. Tenants Union that rescinds those 16 notices to quit in exchange for the withdrawal of a lawsuit and fair rent complaint filed against the business by union members.
That all comes after the union fired back against the landlord’s attempt to kick out a quarter of residents at the Elizabeth Apartments complex at 311 Blake St. in late August, claiming that the lapse-of-time eviction notices — which stated that tenants had to move out because their leases had expired and the landlord did not want to renew — were actually an act of retaliation against tenants for organizing to push back against a potential rent hike.
Since Ocean first began distributing those notices to quit in residents’ doorways on Aug. 19, the tenants union delivered a petition opposing the eviction filings to their landlord, held a press conference, filed for injunctive relief, filed a lawsuit, and organized a protest with over 300 tenants rights activists and local labor organizers. On Sept. 1, Ocean drafted and signed a memorandum of understanding withdrawing those notices and promising not to pursue any more lapse-of-time evictions for at least three months.
Many Blake St. tenants were kept on month-to-month leases after Ocean purchased the property two years ago, meaning that every 30 days their landlord could choose to let that lease expire … [CT Tenants Union VP Luke] Melonakos-Harrison said he hopes the union’s win will also mean “more and more people will come to understand how unfair these types of evictions are and why we need universal no-cause eviction protections in Connecticut.”