and Topic Discussions
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- absentee landlord - any landlord who lives in a different neighborhood, or locale than the applicable units he rents out. Absentee landlordism is the norm in today's commercialized, often conglomerated, incorporated rental housing market. While inner cities typically offer the highest density of rental housing units, landlords usually live in nicer neighborhoods with less traffic, more back yards, lawns, offstreet parking and fresh air. Thus essentially the absentee landlord does not identify with tenant struggles, tenant rights or the concept of affordable housing. Equally bad, absentee landlords extract millions of dollars from any sizable inner city neighborhood each month, and do most of their personal shopping outside of tenant neighborhoods where small rent-paying shopkeepers struggle to survive. In most cases, absentee landlords insulate themselves from direct tenant feedback by hiring building managers
- asbestos - a potentially dangerous mineral product previously installed in older homes and buildings, for the purpose of fire protection and insulation. It's presence is typically regarded as immediately dangerous to human health when it has or may become disturbed or airborne. Asbestos comes in many forms and is no longer installed in any new building or remodeling within the United States. But asbestos still exists in many buildings. In some cases it may pose a significant long term respiratory risk to occupants and may have been disturbed much more than anyone might notice. Although regulations regarding asbestos removal and handling are strict, regulation enforcement may be inadequate in forcing property owners to encapsulate or remove preexisting asbestos, particularly in old lofts and converted industrial buildings. Typically asbestos related lung diseases take many years to develop after a continued period of high level exposure. The actual harmfulness of asbestos is highly debated. Nonetheless, exposure to asbestos can absolutely assure unintended early mortality. It is recommended that any tenant having possible asbestos problems should obtain detailed general info on asbestos from the Internet and government health departments especially at the state and federal levels. Local departments are less likely to provide as much scientific reference or helpful concern. You may wish to consult with an attorney specializing in asbestos litigation before you consider reporting your landlord for any potential violations, since that could stir up a legitimate eviction for safety concerns or could poison your landlord-tenant relationship. In any case, whether you have a good landlord or a bad one, you should be vigilant regarding asbestos and be sure to ducument its presence and condition chronologically and photographically if it has you at all concerned. In many cases, asbestos that appears previously undisturbed, such as the kind covering old steam pipes, can be safely encapsulated with rolls of plastic and duct tape without removal, providing you are intensely careful to use appropriate respiratory gear, bright lighting and heed caution to avoid distubing deteriorating asbestos and its dust. Be warned, that even static electricity from plastic can make asbestos dust go airborne. Thus even a benign situation can be deceptively dangerous. It is noteworthy that some old warehouse buildings may have huge amounts of asbestos clinging to bricks and inside cracks. Old building that have been exposed to wind and weather through broken windows where pigeons have entered, may be of particilar concern. Asbestos dust that has been in contact with rain, drifting snow or water misuse, may become distributed further by evaporation and air flow. Any prior presence of pigeons may complicate asbestos problems because pigeons sometimes peck the material incessantly. As a tenant, it is imperative that you take every appropriate caution regarding asbestos. Some dismiss asbestos as a joke while others compare it to plutonium. Regardless, it's not worth losing even one year of life for lack of caution. And in most cases it will take you ten to thirty years before you know if any exposure has harmed your health. You may choose to have specific airborne asbestos testing done. Be cautioned that some types of tests are more exact than others. Be sure to consult the most reputable and certified testing agents through your Better Business Bureau and phone book.
- background check - any verifiable histories such as those done on prospective tenants by prospective landlords, to determine suitability for renting. Unfortunately, a large and powerful computerized background check industry has recently evolved to the degree that landlords are no longer merely weeding out prospects with bad credentials, they are actually in fact using background checks to avail housing only to the most elite and shining prospects who have neither criminal records nor poverty nor bad genes. Essentially, in most communities, it is the absolute legal right of landlords to pick and choose the ideal tenant based on any criteria except race, creed, or national origin. The rich come before the poor. The one with the perfect credit history, the Gold card and Mercedes, comes before the one with the old Volkswagen. If you have any criminal record you might just never again have any home ever again. Anyone who has ever been evicted anywhere, regardless of how brutal or unwarranted the eviction are marked for life. There is great tragedy in these background checks even for the middle class do-gooder. In tight housing markets, landlords have become brutally snobbish in their quest to collect an elite collection of rent payers. This has occurred in New York, San Francisco, San Jose and many other cities where government has ruthlessly promoted new tech industry while shamefully neglecting the need for a rise in corresponding affordable housing. Newspaper reports have sited competitions between tenants arriving at rare vacancies trying to one-up each other in order to win the grand prize of a place to stay. Background checks have the potential to serve as a fair means to disclose where tenants are notoriously destructive or deadbeat in matters of rental history. But today's society gives massive legal preference to landlords who are catered to by a largely unfair and dangerously reckless data-mining industry. This is probably in direct violation of the equal protection clause of the American constitution, or it should be. Essentially there are no fair nor consistent standards for credibility in the faulting of evicted tenants. Evictions and other legal actions against tenants are civil matters placing the burden of proof upon tenants, who are defendants. Tenants, by nature are virtually never as skilled nor resourceful as landlords in these matters. Each time a tenant fails to meet his burden of proof in these matters and suffers an eviction, he is thrown to the winds where his record is concerned. Furthermore, the level of data mined on tenants is brutally intrusive. It is repulsive that one's financial affairs must be disclosed at all let alone that you cannot keep your social security number private, thus inviting ongoing intrusive data mining. Visrtaully all landlords will disaggree with me and cite the value of being able to know everything about you, the prospective tenant. But background checks in their current form are profoundly antithetic to democracy. To wit, show me a state where landlords are required to sublit their social security numbers, cridit histories, criminal backgrounds, and eviction activity histores to prospective tenants. Such histories are not required because there has never been any united tenant movement to make them a legal mandate. The landlord will tell you that you must be a perfect no-risk tenant. He need not disclose to you if he may have launched dozens of bad-faith evictions, or if he routinely fails to fix fire alarms, or if he routinely steals deposits under false pretexts. He is investing his space as your home. You are investing you life, your safety, your hope for privacy, your personal security and your entire financial future and tenant reputation in dealing with him. Background checks in their current form are a rising form of increasing data abuse defying even the most rudimentary concepts of fairness. It is thus urgent that today's new rising tenant rights movement must give strong focus to mandating new legislation that will recognize a deeper recognition of rights to housing and open choice thereof as a fundamental civil liberty with preference over all but the most relevant and fairly gathered background. The tenant rights movement must likewise build its own data gathering industry against landlords where no such industry exists. This can be done through the formation of nonprofit organizations funded publicly.
- block grant -
- buffet -
- building codes -
- commune - a living arrangement whereby a specific building, collection of buildings or area of land is used in common by a collective of people who take interactive responsibility for its upkeep and share its benefits in some intended egalitarian fashion. A commune may exist in any of a variety of settings including public wilderness, rented property or on property owned collectively by commune members. Although communes have existed for thousands of years in hundreds of variations, their notoriety stems largely from periods of political and social rebellion wherein commune residents have sought alternatives to insurmountable rents and difficulties in becoming individual land owners. We tend to recall the Paris commune revolt of the Victorian industrial epoch. We also recall many hippy communes of the 1960s and 70s. Communes frequently represent a rejection of conventional modes of land ownership by embracing a more polyeconomic concept wherein anyone can theoretically co-own land or escape the external capitalization of landlords. Communers may pay rent or provide personal service as rent. However such rents would typically remain within the commune economy if the commune is a nonprofit organization or for-profit with profits being shared. Communes are ideally managed by giving a roughly equivalent control authority to all members subject to a charter by the founding members. Such charter may give deference to long-standing members or members who have invested personal time, labors or money more heavily. Although communal concepts often suggest or represent utopian ideals, no commune is perfect. Nor is the rank of authority ever perfectly egalitarian. A commune wherein long-standing members have a deeply altruistic concern for the happiness and well being of other members and care for them as human beings will inevitably have a head start over one that might be authoritarian. The archtypical commune is one wherein people gather to live and produce effectively, while enjoying fullest personal and social liberties with special focus upon escaping the enslavement of conventional economic schemes, landlordism, excessive capitalism, and overbearing government.
- communism - For purposes of discussing land reform and tenant rights, there are essentially two types of "communism", one, uncapitalized, being a common practice of communing, the other, with a capital 'C" being a specific Marxist doctrine and form of revolution and government. The widely attempted system of government known as "Communism" was essentially based on prior commune concepts as observed by the British born Karl Marx, who was partly correct, partly wrong, in his pivotal condemnation of capitalism. The implementation of Communism, notably by the egotist V. Lenin decades later, rendered ongoing Communist revolutions that succeeded only in defeating human freedom and the will to productivity. Communism was correct in challenging the typical modus operandi of capitalism, but in practice lacked the altruism and intellectual integrity to challenge it properly. It was so dead set upon punishing and robbing robber barons and achieving the glory of their defeat that it attracted imbecile megalomaniac revolutionaries such as foaming-at-the-mouth Lenin, and created its own internal den of social thieves and tyrants. Thus Marxism, was a sort of a warped "Jesus with machine guns" that usually found fertile ground only where dictators could be overthrown with distasteful violence and alternative oppression. Communism with a capitol "C", thus stands as a widely failed and disproven form of government repulsive to most capitalists, socialists and progressives of almost every variety. It is important to note that commune practice has existed before and after Marxism without forced collectivism or any of the other egregious violations of natural, social and individual will inherent in Communism. Generic "communists" are rarely if ever Marxist in principle, yet may share Karl's perspective regarding the repulsive greed and destructiveness of capitalism where it is not balanced by some form of socialism. In practice, communers are wise in choosing to largely avoid the generic term "communism" for fear that will be confused with the political form of Communism based on Marx and his "das Kapital."
- condemnation - the process wherein a government in jurisdiction deems a building or property unfit for use and may order specific remedies such as razing or rehabilitating a structure or requiring that it be sold or subject to new management. Most condemnations are brought about as a result of alleged safety problems such as major fire code violations, structural deterioration, environmental or health hazards, or persistent criminal activities such as crack cocaine dealing.
- condominium - a housing unit that is a portion of a building, typically like an apartment or loft, with the exception that the unit is purchased outright. Other units in the same building are usually owned by different people. There is no landlord since the residents are owners. However, there is usually an association of sorts composed of the owners, who may share rights and responsibilities.
- condomization - (slang) the process of dividing or remodeling any house or building for the purpose of creating condominiums.
- couch surfing - the practice of sleeping in the homes of acquaintances or other helpful people on a rotating basis, from home to home. Couch surfing is typically done by a person who is either traveling or homeless for the time being. The couch surfer may be temporarily unsettled or homeless for a long time, and is young, more often than not.
- damage deposit - (See: "security deposit".)
- developer - a person, business group or organization that increases the usefulness or improves the appearance of any land or real estate property for any ultimate goal, which in most cases, amounts to the goal of personal gain and self enrichment. In addition to the ubiquitous real estate speculator-developer, there are also rare nonprofit developers, philanthropists, and developers with social vision, usually working in the fringes to exercise altruistic visions where greed has somehow failed to get there first.
- domestic violence - any physical abuse or threat or pattern thereof, between intimately involved partners, roommates, or family members. Domestic violence and other domestic friction is a significant contributor to homelessness and general domestic upheaval.. Although most domestic violence victims are ostensibly women, some social recognition is beginning to manifest for male domestic violence victims as well.
- domestic violence shelter - any residential place suited to providing emergency shelter to victims of demostic violence. Typically these victims may have to leave their homes quickly and without proper plans, in order to escape episodes of severe or escalating abuse. Domestic violence shelters became common around the 1980s
- dot commies - the technologically proficient entrepeneurs and laborers working for Internet and computer companies. In San Fransisco where the term was probably invented, dot commies have become a hated class of people for their mass invasion and competition for precious little rental housing. The already sky high rents of San Fransisco, as a result, went celestial by the turn of the new millennium. TenantRight.Net takes the position that excess newcomers are a huge problem but are not to blame. The blame lies on government and industry. (See: "Problems" section for analysis.)
- economic cleansing - any trend or area-wide process of filtering out, removing, and shedding off lower wage earning tenants in favor of higher paying tenants, for the purpose of increasing profits, equities, recapitalization and real estate turnover. The phrase "economic cleansing" began to surface from the mouths of tenant rights activists as it became apparent that America's economic boom has been a bane to low wage earning tenants. The phrase was clearly modeled after the contemporary term "ethnic cleansing" derived from the recent practice of genocide against so-called "inferior" races in the Balkans of Europe. Voila! Economic cleansing essentially involves practices of increasing the rigidity of qualifications a tenant must provide to accept the sacred blessing of tenancy. Tenants must not only pay higher rents in this process, but must also establish documentation such as credit performance and job history as well as giving up social security number (the standard of the day). This is no problem for tenants Economic cleansing is often invisible to waves of young incoming new tenants drawn by explosive tech commerce jobs. Poop and lower wage earning tenants are typically shoved out en masse to poorer suburbs or distant cities. An example of this is Denver's Capitol Hill where expensive condos began popping up like dandelions in an area that was once a very homogenous mix of poor and upper middle class tenants. Essentially, economic cleansing is the process of vigorously dispossessing all but the most qualified tenants and in some cases, converting rental properties to condomized ownership units. Economic cleansing is the dark immoral and ruthless side of capitalism. Economic cleansing and its evil twin "gentrification" are greatly to blame for homelessness. But on a much larger scale, the poor and working poor who manage to maintain tenancy, often have to suffer for inability to move to better digs or risk moving at all.
- efficiency -
- emergency -
- environmental tobacco smoke -
- eviction notice -
- feudalism -
- finder's fee -
- flat -
- flip - To buy and sell a real estate property quickly only for the sake of rapid profit.
- flipper - Someone who flips properties, a wheeler dealer in real estate.
- forcible eviction detainer (abbrev: FED) -
- gentrification - the trend and process of neighborhood renewal by way of widespread architectural upgrading, the so-called "rehabilitation" of substandard and average rental housing and commercial properties and infrastructure, and the general development of new buildings or expansion thereof. Gentrification is almost always promoted as improvement and modernization for the benefit of everyone. However, that is both a distortion and usually a boldface lie. In nearly all cases, the prime motivating factor for gentrification is not altruism but rather it is to increase profit at the expense of tenants. Gentrification typically occurs in rental housing neighborhoods, often within inner city neighborhoods where young people, old people, poor and blue collar people pay rent and struggle to survive. The central hidden motive of gentrification is almost always economic cleansing (which see above).
- growth control - any law or collection of laws or government practices designed to limit population influx and/or construction, ostensibly for the purpose of maintaining or improving quality of life for residents and for environmental preservation or rehabilitation. In actual practice growth control enriches property owners at the expense of tenants, of poor and of working classes, by artificially increasing the value of housing when demand far exceeds supply. Case in point is Boulder, Colorado in the late 1970s, where growth control was presented as an environmental and quality of life issue and thus received grass roots support from Boulder's environmentally minded upper middle class residents including both tenants en masse and landlords. But as a few years passed, waves of lower middle class, working poor and bohemian artists of old school Boulder had to leave. They were replaced by rich kids with deep pockets as rents skyrocketed. The town thereafter developed commercial themes that were a sucky plagiarism of upscale European consumerism. Boulder essentially preserved some physical quality of life in the form of slower traffic growth. But otherwise the town lost its identity and its real soul. It is a moral mandate that the number of affordable housing units should grow with the overall world population. It is also scientifically probable that if urbanization grows in one area in excess of population growth, then other urban areas may be subject to greening or condusive to renewal. The most urgent message is for tenants to take a long cold hard look into any growth control proposal, since it will most likely cause property values and rents to rise for lack of adequate units.
- HA - (abbreviation): housing authority. The US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses the abbreviation in reference to smaller government agencies who administer programs originating from HUD.
- historic - renown in history or of enduring significance to human events of the past. The term "historic" is one of the most abused and manipulated terms used by landlords to high-price rehabbed rental properties that are merely old and of impecunious historical note. The term "historic" is also often abused to obtain preservation status rights and subsequent financing at taxpayer expense. In truth many buildings have value for their splendid antiquity and may be part of neighborhoods where historic community changes occurred. But the fact that your condomized rental property was once the mansion of a horse merchant does not make it historic in any sense that matters. In some cases, it is prudent to preserve entire neighborhoods for their antiquity and community history. But often such neighborhoods are impacted with unbearable traffic, pollution and noise. Thus it is usually a falsehood to suggest that tenants benefit from historic surroundings. That benefit is typically inconsequential to renters but more of value to a particular city as a whole.
- homeless shelter -
- Hooverville -
- housing discrimination - the imposition of any human or administrative obstacle that deters or prevents tenancy or home purchase by anyone, based on such factors as race, religious affiliation, physical or mental disability or anything protected by civil rights laws or codes. There are assorted laws against housing discrimination, but such laws cannot be effectively enforced in many if not most cases, since motives for denial of housing can easily be disguised as legit reasons. It is imperative that tenants become increasingly informed of actual housing laws through online and published statutes as well as through tenant advocacy groups. In order to fight housing discrimination, tenants and inexperienced home buyers must also know how to show evidence and report such discrimination. TenantRights.Net will provide increasing resource listings for tenant and affordable housing advocacy. One good online resource for reading up on housing discrimination is The U.S. Dept of Housing <HUD.gov>. For others, see the "General Resources" section.
- landlord -
- land reform -
- lead based paint -
- lien -
- loft -
- management service -
- occupancy certificate -
- passive cigarette smoke -
- price per square foot -
- radon gas -
- real estate tax shelter -
- rehab -
- rent control -
- rental history -
- renter's insurance -
- safe house - a place where one may take refuge. The term is commonly used in reference to any temporary home or shelter intended for domestic violence victims, runaways or other persons either forced to leave home by unsafe situations or otherwise given refuge from the relative unsafety of homelessness on the streets..
- security building -
- securuty deposit -
- shanty -
- shanty town -
- sidewalk eviction -
- slumlord -
- smoke detector -
- squatter -
- tenant farmer -
- tenant insurance -
- tenement -
- tinderbox - a place or dwelling that is a high fire hazard due to construction materials, excess flammable storage items, blocked passages, lack of suitable alarms, or any significant fire code violations.
- treble damages -
- utilities - (metered vs unmetered, etc.)
- utopian community -
- vacancy rate -
- yuppie - (acronym) young urban professional. The term was coined in the early 1980s or prior partly out of class conflict and hatred of rising materialistic values especially within inner city areas.
- Yuptown - (slang) a neighborhood or town taken over by yuppies.
- zoning -
Much more to come here!
The glossary will evolve through research and suggestion. It will hopefully be of great use to all tenants.