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Your Rights


After years of advocacy by NAHT, in 2000 HUD adopted strong regulations affirming tenants’ Right to Organize free from management harassment or intimidation, in privately-owned, HUD subsidized apartment complexes. These regulations define a “legitimate” tenants association, which must be a group that “meets regularly, operates democratically, is representative of all tenants in the development, and completely independent of owners and their agents”. The regulations also establish the right of tenants to meet without management present, to leaflet, doorknock, post flyers, and invite in outside organizers and attorneys to help tenants organize and assert their rights. (These regulations do not apply to Public Housing, owned by local housing agencies, which are governed by different regulations). For comprehensive information on forming a tenant association, please visit the How To Form a Tenant Group section of our website.

NAHT also persuaded HUD to incorporate by reference the Right to Organize regulations in the standard Model Lease which every HUD tenant signs with their landlord.

HUD has also published the “Management Agent Handbook”. In Chapter 4, titled “Working with Residents” The handbook defines what actions taken by management against tenants is considered harrassment. Both the regulations and the handbook require owners & managers to recognize legitimate tenant unions, as defined in the regulations.

Getting HUD to enforce these regulations has been another story. Recently, HUD published a Notice to owners and their managers highlighting the Right to Organize regulations and Management Agent Handbook requirement, and spelling out sanctions for owners that violate tenants’ rights. The Notice also establishes a procedure for tenants to file complaints about violations with their local HUD office. Although in principle HUD could fine owners who violate tenants rights, to date this has never occurred, and no owner has been sanctioned under the Notice.

If you file a complaint, be sure to send the NAHT office a copy so we can keep track, and keep the heat on HUD!

Click here for the HUD Enforcement Notice.

Watch NAHT’s video on the Right to Organize!

Your Rights

You have the right to live in decent, sanitary housing; the right to have repairs done in a timely manner; the right to be notified in writing, of any non emergency inspection or other entry into your apartment; the right to fair and equal treatment and use of your building’s services and facilities without regard to race, color, religion, gender, disability, familial status (children under 18), national origin (ethnicity or language) or some circumstances, age.

HUD policy also clearly states that tenants in HUD Assisted Housing have the right to organize tenant groups.

Emily Coffey, a VISTA Affordable Housing Preservation Project Legal Fellow at the Sargent Shriver National Center of Poverty Law put together a very useful Powerpoint presentation, The Right to Organize in HUD Assisted Housing that has been used during NAHT Conference workshops and at NAHT Early Service Training workshops as well as used by Tenant Organizers around the country.  We are making it available here to better assist you in organizing tenant groups and to provide you with as much information as we can.


Please read the attached HUD Notice 2016-5 regarding the Legal Right to Organize in HUD Assisted Housing

HUD Notice 2016-5

 Rights & Responsibilities Brochure

NAHT helped HUD create a “Resident Rights & Responsibilities” Brochure, which HUD requires landlords to distribute to all HUD tenants each year. Get your copy here! We have them in nine languages.

Decent, Safe, & Sanitary Housing

You have a right to Decent, Safe and Sanitary Housing. You can read HUD’s Quality Standards. In this document, the highlighted portion is HUD’s definition of Decent, Safe, and Sanitary Housing.

The Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) is responsible for ensuring these quality standards. For more information about REAC, visit REAC’s web site.

REAC has also created a REAC Brochure explaining the inspection scoring process.

Rent Calculation

You also have the right to have your rent calculated properly. In February, 2002, HUD distributed the Rent calcuation Fact sheet. Included in the fact sheet is a detailed explanation of how your rent is determined.

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