Portland is demanding an immediate rent suspension until the COVID-19 threat passes. Residents throughout Portland, and Oregon as a whole, are experiencing loss of jobs and wages. Our vulnerable and homeless and houseless communities are facing a severely heightened health risk. Our disabled community is facing higher medical costs. Everyone has been affected by this.
We cannot afford to pay our rent on April 1st. We will not be able to afford to pay it retroactively. Portland is made of hard-working residents who can barely afford their rent under normal circumstances, let alone in this crisis.
However, the Government is ignoring our need for a rent suspension. As a result, we are escalating to a rent strike. Strike with us, keep your rent on April 1st!
This site is a resource for those participating or considering participating in the rent strike. Below are Frequently Asked Questions about rent strikes, mortgage strikes, the eviction moratorium and the need for a rent suspension. There are also templates available for you to send a letter to your landlord about why you will not be paying rent this month. There is a table of contents in the sidebar or menu.
What about the Eviction Moratorium?
According to this update, Mayor Wheeler received the demands and dismissed them. A rent suspension was needed, but an eviction moratorium was provided.
The Eviction Moratorium prevents evictions throughout this state of emergency, and only throughout it, which could be as little as three months. Any unpaid rent must be paid back within 6 months, and rent continues to accrue on top of that. It also requires renters to prove that a loss of work is due to the virus, which landlords are able to contest.
In contrast, a rent suspension would prevent evictions caused by the virus long-term, and renters would only owe rent when this crisis has passed. It would benefit our entire community, which includes undocumented workers and sex workers. There are some who will be impacted in ways that haven't or can't be accounted for. A rent suspension takes the burden off all renters, and saves them time and effort having to bear the burden of proof. Renters would also not be forced into working due to financial struggles during a time when public health officials recommend that everyone stay home.
Therefore, we are escalating to a rent strike.
What if I'm not out of work?
What if I can afford my rent?
Even if you're not out of work, you have savings, or you can otherwise afford your rent, you can and should still participate in the rent strike. A rent strike only works in numbers, so everyone who can needs to participate.
It shows landlords, property management companies and the government that we will not allow anyone in our community to struggle or be burdened by rent-related financial difficulties during this crisis.
Solidarity is the key to surivivng this crisis.
What if it's not safe or too risky for me to strike?
Not paying rent may be more dangerous to some members of our community than others. This is precisely why solidarity is important. Solidarity and numbers not only provide additional safety to members of our community who are more at risk, but also helps to strengthen our numbers and relieve the burden on those who can't.
It's important to acknolwedge that some people may not be able to participate, and to respect that fact. At the same time, if you are in a position to choose, please choose to strike with us.
What if I own my home?
If you own your own home, and have a mortgage, we encourage you join us with a mortgage strike. This would be a strike against the banks - banks who should absolutely not own people's home in the first place.
What if I am houseless?
Houseless people are encouraged to occupy empty houses and buildings that are owned by greedy banks, landlords and corporations. Why do these people deserve empty buildings while leaving you at risk at all, let alone during this public health crisis? Take it back from them and help to ensure your survival and that of those around you.
Shouldn't we wait for the government to formally issue a rent suspension?
The government might eventually issue a rent suspension, they might not. By striking, we are autonomously deciding to ensure our own and our families' safety. Rent day is rapidly approaching, and we can make this decision now, without putting ourselves in further financial jeopardy while waiting for the government to make a decision they may not make.
A rent strike will put pressure not only on landlords, banks and property management companies, but also on the government itself. It makes a stronger and more direct statement than any petition or letter can make.
What about my landlord?
Won't this hurt them?
Landlords have resources that will allow them to withstand this crisis better than any of us. We have to ensure our own survival, that our families and those we care about. As with anything, your most important duty is to yourself.
The government and others have a number of options available for some businesses and mortgage moratoriums are being considered and fought for. If landlords would like relief during this pandemic, it's up to them to fight for that, but that's not your problem.
What do I do with the money for rent?
Can I spend it? Should I save it?
One of the points of a rent strike is that rent is unaffordable, and that this money is needed for to ensure our safety and survival. Groceries, health services, medication, supplies, security and more are essential during this time. It's up to you if you want to spend it or save it. What that money goes toward is your choice.
We can't promise that you will never have to pay this rent. The aim is to organize and come together and ensure everyone has access to what they need during this time. We need to support each other in doing this, and be prepared to support each other if landlords fight back.
If you qualify under the eviction moratorium that was recently announced, then you have six months to pay back any 'deferred' rent. With this in mind, most of us can't afford to, and shouldn't have to.
With that in mind, the immediate health and safety of you and your family is the first priority right now.
My landlord is offering me a payment plan, rent deferral or similar program.
In many cases, large housing companies and corporations will do this in an attempt to undermine a rent strike and our collective unity. In the long term, these plans and programs will not benefit you as a tenant, and it weakens the collective strength of a rent strike.
Won't I be evicted?
What if I can't prove loss of income?
Won't I be evicted after the moratorium?
First: the eviction moratorium. Let's be clear: the current evicition moratorium only protects those who can prove a loss of income. If you can, you must notify your landlord that you will not be paying rent prior to April 1st to be protected. Start collecting evidence now. A note from your employer, pay stubs, notice of termination. Your landlord may try to take you to court, but if you have taken these steps, you should be able to win. You can get in touch with the PDX Rent Strike Facebook page, who can connect you to a tenants rights lawyer. If you do qualify under the eviction moratorium, you have 6 months to pay back any deferred rent, however you shouldn't have to!
Next: if you can't prove a loss of income, don't qualify under the moratorium, or fail to notify your landlord before April 1st due to your circumstances (or weren't aware you had to) - you won't be protected under the current moratorium, and would be at risk of eviction. There is an Eviction Response Network being organized who can mobilize in defense of people facing eviction, and you can get in touch with the PDX Rent Strike Facebook page who can connect you with a tenant's rights lawyer.
If we strike in numbers, the government will notice. We live in a city where the homeless and houseless situation has already been labeled a state of emergency. The threat of evicting large numbers of people who would otherwise have gone on to work and pay rent will be even more damaging. The government can't ignore us if we stand togther in unity.
I'm convinced. What do I do?
First, perhaps obviously, is not pay your rent. Cancel your automatic payements, void any checks you've written, whatever you need to do to make sure that money does not leave your bank account.
Second, send a letter to your landlord explaining why you're not paying. Take a look at this section for some templates. If you are protected by the evicition moratoirum, you must notify your landlord before April 1st. Even if you're not, sending this letter shows that we stand together as a community on this issue.
Third, get others involved! Start organizing in your building, in your community, with your neigbors. We have some resources to help with this!
(Click to enlarge; image credit: Chronically Creative)
- General rent strike templates
- pdxrentstrike.info's general rent strike template: This template was prepared by the creators of this site for you to let your landlord know that you are taking part in the strike, and won't be paying rent. It attempts to be accessible and easy to understand or edit.
- Templates for people who can't afford to pay their rent, but who don't qualify (or can't prove they do) under the eviction moratorium
- pdxrentstrike.info's 'I can't afford to pay my rent' template: This template was prepared by the creators of this site for you to let your landlord know that you can't afford your rent, and will be striking. It attempts to be accessible and easy to understand or edit.
- Templates for people who qualify under the eviction moratorium
- Oregon Legal Aid's Eviction Moratorium Letter: If you qualify under the eviction moratorium, you should use this letter to inform your landlord that you will not be paying rent. This way you are protected while participating in the strike, but are protected from eviction and are given 6 months rent deferral should a rent suspension not happen. When the eviction ends, you can join the strike by following up with your landlord using one of our other letter templates.
How can I help organize?
Organizing in your building, in your community, with your neighbors and with your friends is a great way to spread the word. With us all being housebound, this is a little trickier than it might be in other circumstances. Check out Rent Strike Guide: Love In The Time of Corona for a helpful guide to organizing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have questions about the strike, want to get involved or need some general support, you can email us at [email protected].
If you would like assistance or support organizing your building or block, contact Portland General Defense Committee. Email them at [email protected] or call them on 503.442.0866. They can connect you with someone who can help with the organizing process, or just be there to listen.