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Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights

by john Thursday, Mar. 01, 2018 at 6:28 PM

A brief summary of the conclusion, from Curbed.

Elijah Chilland wrote in Curbed about the conclusion of the rent strike at 2nd St in Boyle Heights.

The terms of this historic agreement were a 42 month lease, with an option to renew at the end of the lease. The rent increase was 14% going forward, with a cap of 5% on annual increases.

In effect, this was a private contract for rent control. The normal RSO rent increases are usually 3%, and tied to the CPI and approved by a board.

The annual increase in CPI tends to be around 2.5%, so both of these increases allow for a growing rate of profit for the landlords.

The rent in the area has been rising up to 8% a year, and in this specific situation, people were getting 0 increases, which is nearly half the rent. The successful strike saves the tenants hundreds of dollars a year.

The goal of the huge rent increases was probably not to collect that rent, but to drive the tenants out. The property had been bought by BJ Turner, founder of Dunleer.

Dunleer's business model is to buy up properties in gentrifying areas, and then evict people. WIth the original, working class community displaced from the building, they could raise the rents higher. They had a brochure that called this "arbitrage".

The strike started with the strike itself, and a strong social media presence from LA Tenants Union, but over time, expanded, until a sustained period of negative press basically overwhelmed BJ Turner's public image.

The PDF expressing the business model is now hard to find via Google searches for Turner or Dunleer.

In big-media campaigns, the typical strategy of an organization fighting a large corporation is to go "up the ladder" and find the largest, best known name, and then attack that corporation.

In this social media campaign, an inverse strategy was used, to frequently name the individuals and low-profile companies related to the individual, so that anyone doing "due diligence" research before investing in a company like Dunleer would find numerous stories about the conflict between the tenants and the owner.

Generally, real estate investors do not want to be found, because there is limited sympathy (or none at all) for landlords. They use management companies to "run interference" and keep the owner's name anonymous. They use shell companies, like trusts, to buy up properties, so names don't go into the public record.

The struggle for the tenants was organized by LACCLA and LA Tenants Union, tweeted heavily by Defend Boyle Heigts, and supported by DSA and KNOCK LA.

http://www.dsa-la.org/action_protesting_bj_turner

https://knock-la.com/why-we-camped-out-at-developer-b-j-turners-house-3f1b997ca95d



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