RENT STRIKE 2020

A RESOURCE LIST

image by imp kerr

Last updated April 3, 2020

Here, we share what we hope will be a frequently updated list of rent strike resources and information from the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia.

Q: What’s the difference between the stress and anxiety of just not being able to pay your rent, and a rent strike?
A: Organizing with other people!

In a time of pandemic and massive economic crisis, when we are being asked to stay home, having a home to stay in must be a right, not an expensive privilege. The same goes for essential care and delivery workers who are risking their lives and shouldn’t have to worry about rent and mortgage payments right now.

A call has been circulating internationally for an initial rent and mortgage strike day of April 1st. This is happening alongside political efforts to bring in rent cancellations for everyone via emergency legislation (suspensions and other measures, while welcome, could leave tenants with unrealistic back pay obligations and vulnerable to eviction later on).

Landlords and situations vary; for some people, negotiations with landlords will succeed, and for many they will fail or be impossible. Whatever happens on an individual level, it seems very likely that disorganized mass non-payment of rent and mortgages will grow over the coming months as more and more people get laid off and lose income for health or economic reasons.

If you’re concerned about this, act now to protect yourself. If you have a local tenants union, contact them. If you don’t have a tenants’ union near you, start one (how-to below). Rent strikes are not currently legally protected, but working together with fellow tenants who have promised to have each other’s backs, will make a huge difference to your safety and wellbeing.

There are also national, international and city-wide petitions and online discussions and so on to help you connect with the wider struggle and share ideas on strategy and demands.

I have done my best to vet these to an extent, but if you have any more resources/info to contribute, or see anything that you think shouldn’t be on here, or have any other constructive feedback, please email.

Contents:
1. How to form a tenants union
2. Tenants unions
3. Example letters to landlords
4. Active rent strikes and direct action on housing
5. Petitions
6. Demands
7. Organizing resources

1. HOW TO FORM A TENANTS UNION

From an experienced tenants organizer

1. Find five people in your building or area willing to support future action
2. Hold a call with those five people, and plan a next call that you announce very publicly
3. Announce the call and say, “Here’s our email, we are forming a tenants union, we are going to support you, and we want to hear from you”
4. Build and organize with the people who contact you
5. Contact local mutual aid organizations—everyone involved in mutual aid should also be joining tenants unions

Autonomous Tenants Union tenant organizing toolkit

(More under Organizing Resources)

2. TENANTS UNIONS

• • USA • •

CALIFORNIA

– Executive order to halt evictions for renters and homeowners, slow foreclosures, and protect against utility shutoffs is in place till end of May; no rent suspension or cancellation as yet

Drop Rent SC (Santa Cruz, CA)
Organizing toward a rent strike in Santa Cruz
droprentsc.com
instagram.com/droprentsc

LA Tenants Union (Los Angeles, CA)

Broad program of goals/demands including a “rent holiday” (initially two months but to be extended), anti-harassment measures to protect tenants against landlords, no evictions of houseless people’s encampments, free utilities and suspension of ICE enforcement
latenantsunion.org/en/
COVID demands

Pasadena Tenants Union
Calling for a full eviction moratorium and rent suspension; basically in line with LA Tenants Union demands
pasadenatenantsunion.org/



Tenants and Neighbors Council (TANC) (Bay Area, CA) 

Two main demands: rent suspension and rent forgiveness. Website has a contact form to get in touch explaining your circumstances, plus a really clear organizing guide
baytanc.com/suspendrent/

Tenants Together, CA
Statewide organization working on movement building and advocacy for tenants’ rights
tenantstogether.org
twitter.com/TenantsTogether

FLORIDA

– The governor is “considering” an eviction moratorium

Miami Tenants Union
Working with renters in the Miami Dade community, helping tenants build their own power
twitter.com/miatenants
Facebook.com/MIATenantsUnion
Their GoFundMe campaign

Palm Beach County Tenants Union
Supporting nationwide rent strike, rent cancellation and eviction protection. Couldn’t find anything covid-specific in a quick browse of their website but they have an active Twitter account with pandemic-related campaigns etc, both links here
pbctu.org
twitter.com/PBCTenantsUnion

ILLINOIS

– Evictions paused statewide till April 5 and in Chicago till April 15


Autonomous Tenants Union (Chicago, IL)
They are calling for an indefinite freeze on collection of all rent, mortgage, and utility payments throughout the pandemic, with the endorsement of multiple community groups. Hotline number in Twitter bio and the petition link has a list of more local organizations (I also list a couple below)
twitter.com/AutonomousUnion
Rent freeze petition

Chicago Rent Strike
Google form and statement by Tenants United Hyde Park. Currently gathering information and contact info


Tenants United Hyde Park (Chicago, IL)
Based in Hyde Park & Chicago’s South Side, currently organizing a rent strike for Mac tenants
twitter.com/TenantsUnitedHP
facebook.com/tenantsunited1
Mac tenants rent strike pledge form

Metropolitan Tenants Organization
Group of tenants and community members. Link provides “renters’ resources” on eviction moratoriums, benefits and HUD during the pandemic, in the Chicago area
tenants-rights.org/renters-resources-during-covid-19/

IOWA

Iowa City Tenants Union
Calling for a 60-day moratorium on rent strikes
facebook.com/IowaCityTenantsUnion

MICHIGAN

Lansing Tenants Union
Recently established and actively organizing, not much Twitter activity yet but DM them
twitter.com/LansingTenants

MINNESOTA

Twin Cities
Worker and tenant defense – phone number and email in Facebook profile image
facebook.com/tcsolnet

NEBRASKA

Omaha Tenants United
Radical tenants organization building tenant power in the Omaha metro area
twitter.com/omahatenant
facebook.com/OmahaTenantsUnited

NEW YORK

– Three-month eviction moratorium
– Mortgage payment suspension for people out of work for over 90 days

Bushwick Housing Independence Project
Bed Stuy, Brownsville and Bushwick. Working on a rent/utilities freeze, alongside all of the NY organizations mentioned here. Website not working but they seem active on social media (if you can’t get hold of them, try Housing Justice For All, below)
twitter.com/BhipBrooklyn
facebook.com/pg/bhipnyc


Chinatown Tenants Union/CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities (Manhattan, New York)

Organizing locally on tenants’ rights, repairs and basic habitability; they have endorsed the Housing Justice 4 All rent suspension petition
caaav.org/our-work/programs/chinatown-tenants-union
twitter.com/caaav



Flatbush
For support with a rent strike email 2574bedfordtenants at gmail dot com

Ridgewood Tenants Union (Queens, New York)

Supporting local tenants, currently seem to be gathering information on how the pandemic is impacting people (see survey link below) and they endorsed the NY rent suspension petition
ridgewoodtenantsunion.org
twitter.com/RidgewdTenantsU
Public survey for tenants in Queens

Housing Justice For All (New York)
Statewide. They are the umbrella organization leading the rent suspension petition and should (if not too busy!) be able to direct people to local organizing
housingjusticeforall.org/
Rent/mortgage suspension petition

OHIO

Columbus Tenants Union
Pushing for rent freeze, rent forgiveness and tenant protections
twitter.com/UnionColumbus

OREGON

Portland Tenants Union
Calling for an April rent amnesty
pdxtu.org

PENNSYLVANIA

– Evictions on pause through April 3

Philadelphia Tenants’ Union
Currently working on total moratoriums on rent payments, evictions, utility shut-offs, foreclosures and residential tax liens for the duration of the pandemic (including back pay). They will support “any tenant fighting back”
phillytenantsunion.org
PTU guide to organizing skills and collective negotiation with landlords

TEXAS

– Eviction moratorium initially till April 20th

Houston Tenants Union
Demands: fully freeze filings, extend the current moratorium to 60 days, waive all late fees, and a rent freeze now
houstontenantsunion.org
twitter.com/HoustonTenants

WASHINGTON

– Evictions and utility shut-offs suspended during state of emergency


DC Tenants Union
Current demands: rent freeze; two-year freeze on rent increases; doubling budget for Emergency Rental Assistance Program; passing all the policies recommended by the Reclaim Rent Control coalition (link also below) 
dctenantsunion.org
twitter.com/DCTenantsUnion
Reclaim Rent Control

Sound Tenants (Seattle & King County)
Email contact at soundtenants dot org to get in touch about organizing locally

Stomp Out Slumlords
Metro DC DSA anti-eviction and tenant organizing campaign; working with DC Tenants Union as of mid-March
stompoutslumlords.org

WISCONSIN

Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union
Tenants’ collective demanding moratoriums on evictions and arrests, housing for all and free healthcare
matunion.org/

• • ENGLAND
 • •

– paused evictions
– increased housing benefit
– 90 day mortgage suspension


London Renters Union (London)
The most radical of the UK tenants’ organizations as far as I can tell. Calling for rent suspension; contact them via their website to explain your circumstances and join in planning what to do next
londonrentersunion.org

• • 
SCOTLAND • •


Living Rent (Edinburgh and Glasgow; looking to set up branches elsewhere)
Currently campaigning for an eviction suspension
livingrent.org

• • 
CANADA • •



Parkdale Organize (Toronto)
Working-class people organizing for neighborhood power in Parkdale, Toronto: calling for April 1 rent strike
parkdaleorganize.ca

Vancouver Tenants Union (Vancouver) 

Going hard for an April 1 rent strike
vancouvertenantsunion.ca


3. EXAMPLE LETTERS TO LANDLORDS
I have noted the location these come from but most can be adapted to your specific circumstances and location

California, USA
link to Google doc

Los Angeles, CA, USA
link to Google doc

New York, NY, USA
link to Google doc

Portland, OR, USA
link to Google doc

London, UK
link to PDF


4. ACTIVE RENT STRIKES AND DIRECT ACTION ON HOUSING

1234 Pacific Street Tenants Union, Brooklyn, NYC
“On strike to cancel rent and reclaim our homes”
twitter.com/1234PacificPowr



Australia (nationwide)
Pledge to withhold rent and mortgage payments; campaign led by IWW Kulin Nations (Melbourne), who are connecting people locally using the database created by the pledges. They are working on a rent strike with tenants of big real estate management companies, but advising tenants of small-scale private landlords to negotiate
Google doc here



Mac Properties, Chicago, IL
Lots of ways to join and support listed at the link below
FB Event: Demand Mac Properties Cancel Rent Due to Coronavirus!

Montreal rent strike
Not sure how this is being organized—will add more info on this as I get it, or please send!
mtlcounterinfo.org/montreal-rent-strike-beginning-april-1-2020/

Olympia rent strike, WA
Organizing for April 1 rent strike. Form letters for tenants and homeowners available, plus pledge form, at the link
form.jotform.com/200807589589169

Reclaiming Our Homes
Acquiring unused, empty houses in Los Angeles for houseless families
twitter.com/ReclaimingHomes
reclaimingourhomes.org
Donate here

Station 40, San Francisco, CA, USA
Anti-authoritarian collective living and organizing space, on rent strike since March 17
Instagram post
Interview

Covid 19 London rent strike
Pledge to rent strike in London, organized by anarchist groups
https://www.change.org/p/all-london-landlords-covid-19-rent-strike-london
Solidarity group on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/530146277674135/ 





5. PETITIONS

• • 

USA 

• •

NYC
Petition demanding rent and mortgage suspension immediately (this is backed by local organizers so has more teeth than other petitions)
actionnetwork.org/petitions/reclaim-our-homes-rent-suspension-now/

VERMONT
Petition to postpone evictions and rent

NATIONAL

Rent Strike 2020
NB many organizers are frustrated by this petition and say it doesn’t have sufficient local capacity to actually support people. It’s led by Socialist Alternative, the Rose Caucus, and Youth Climate Strike and calling on state governors to suspend rent, residential mortgage and utility payments for two months. Find local organizations instead if you can, as they are better placed to support you
rentstrike2020.org
twitter.com/RentStrike2020

• • UK • •

Petition to the government to freeze rent, utility and mortgage payments
petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302256

London Renters’ Union rent freeze petition
you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/suspend-all-rent-payments-no-coronavirus-evictions


6. DEMANDS

Los Angeles, CA, USA
medium.com/@LATenantsUnion/declaracion-sobre-el-covid-19-demands-in-response-to-the-covid-19-crisis-f7353925d298

New York, NY, USA
Very comprehensive list of demands by Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, calling for a rent and mortgage freeze, housing the houseless, utility reductions, universal paid sick leave, etc

Portland, OR, USA
medium.com/@ptu/covid-19-state-of-emergency-housing-security-package-portland-tenants-united-f2939daadc7c

Rapid City, South Dakota, USA
actionnetwork.org/petitions/rapid-city-pennington-county-protect-human-rights-in-covid-19-response


7. ORGANIZING RESOURCES

Philadelphia Tenants Union Covid-19 Organizing Guide
Link to Google doc

LATU Rent Forgiveness Guide

bit.ly/FOODNOTRENT

5 Demands global rent strike hotline
Directs callers to local mutual aid networks, rent strike groups, and tenant unions
5demands.global/hotline


TANC Pandemic Organizing Guide
From TANC, an experienced tenants union in the Bay Area, CA (more info above under Tenants Unions)
Google doc here

Why and how to go on a rent strike
Resource from Montreal, Quebec
libcom.org/library/why-how-go-rent-strike

NY Rent Strike Toolkit
Produced by Housing Justice For All and Right to Counsel NYC
bit.ly/RentStrikeNY

Telegram Rent Strike chat
Join the nation-wide Rent Strike Chat, and coordinate regionally. Use the link below or search “U.S. Rent Strike 2020” on Telegram (you can download from the app store)
t.me/rentstrike2020

US legal measures list
Ongoing updated list of which US cities and states have passed eviction moratoriums, tenant protections etc
fool.com/millionacres/real-estate-market/articles/cities-and-states-that-have-paused-evictions-due-to-covid-19/

FAQs on eviction moratoriums and rent nonpayment (NYC)
By Housing Justice For All
housingjusticeforall.org/faqs

Keep Your Rent (Toronto)
Rent strike resources and tools from Parkdale Organize
keepyourrent.com

Seattle Rent Strike
Seattle rent and mortgage strike resource with advice and templates; they are collecting nationwide rent strike declarations
rentstrike.noblogs.org

Stomp Out Slumlords (DSA) thoughts on rent strikes
Interesting perspective from Metro DC DSA
Stomp Out Slumlords | March 20 update [PDF]