Protect Our Rights—Stop the Mobbing

What is mobbing? You will recognize it when tenants say, “They don’t belong here. Let’s get rid of them.”

When a tenant group tries to evict people, where will it end? Do we really want to live like that? Tenants have no right to judge the suitability of another tenant for residency. Under current law, only the landlord (including all their agents such as managers, staff, and service coordinators) has the authority to maintain order and protect the rights of all tenants to be free of bullying and to have “quiet enjoyment.” It is the duty of the landlord to mitigate and prevent bullying. Mobbing is a symptom of landlord and system failure.

Mobbing is different from bullying among individuals or between groups of tenants. It is almost identical to hostile environment harassment, unwelcome conduct creating a situation that makes it difficult or impossible for victims to have the peaceful enjoyment of their residency. Mobbing often results when tenants and landlords have not agreed on how people can live together with mutual respect and consideration of differences. We need an agreement that is backed by a fair and just procedure for setting limits.

Bullying is a component of mobbing and hostile environment harassment. Bullying is any mode of action or communication used by one or more perpetrators to hurt, demean, or inhibit the target in an effort to wield inappropriate control over the victim. Bullying tactics include aggressive psychological and/or social methods to threaten the target, as well as actual or threatened harm to the person of the target or their property.

In the absence of a system for setting limits and resolving problems, people tend to band together for control over their environment. Within such a group, people love each other and hate members of other groups.

Resolving these conflicts, at least on the scale of housing development, is much more simple and direct than the reams of housing rules and regulations. Most of us learned how to get along with others in kindergarten. To solve the problem in housing, either we have to create a new national framework to provide housing for everyone as a right, or we have to patch the existing system.

The essential remedy is to assure that landlords are held accountable. We propose to create an ombuds office that will protect tenants from bullying, and where mobbing is found, hold the landlord to account. We seek a statewide tenant protective services ombuds program for elderly and disabled tenants in public and subsidized housing to implement the principle stated by the Attorney General—it is unlawful to prevent others from enjoying their rights as citizens and tenants. Otherwise, we are doomed to fight each other for control of our homes.