Tenants Organize to Stand Up to the OwnersJuly, 1976
Living and working under Fairfield Associates of Connecticut, Northgate’s first owners, was not easy. Resident complaints about needed repairs and maintenance were consistently ignored. Pro-tenant property managers like Lynn Witter (1979-82) wanted to do right by the tenants but found their hands tied by the owners’ indifference and outright illegal harassment. Fairfield Associates intimidated residents who complained by sending threats of eviction – up to 60 a month! Tenant Anne-Marie Dennis recounted the time when Fairfield employees were caught breaking into a home with the aim of hiding a potentially fatal code violation by replacing faulty fire extinguishers and smoke detectors after a kitchen fire.
Tenants realized they had to come together to defeat these tactics. They enlisted the help of Vermont Legal Aid (VLA), an organization with a strong history of advocating for tenant rights. With VLA’s support, Anne-Marie Dennis and other tenants organized their neighbors and were able to take the owners to court, bringing a series of lawsuits in the late 70s.