Activists are calling on tenants to withhold their payments to landlords, in an attempt to generalise a growing rent strike movement.
The campaign, headed by the London Renters Union (LRU), aims to encourage people to pledge online to withhold their rent amid the Coronavirus crisis.
Amina Gichinga from the LRU said: “The London Renters Union has demanded that the government suspends rent, cancels rent debt, makes the eviction ban permanent and puts an end to racist policies that deny migrants benefits. But we’ve been ignored.
“So renters are now taking matters into their own hands. People who’ve signed up to our campaign at www.cantpaywontpay.uk are sharing skills in how to tell their landlords that they can't, and won't, pay rent - and in how to resist eviction if it comes to that.”
The LRU in March released a template letter for renters to send to their landlords if they are struggling with rent during the coronavirus crisis.
Danny Hayward of the LRU commented: “We have absolutely tons of members who are losing work right now, either because they’re sick or just because their contracts have been cancelled or workplaces shut down.”
He added: “Things aren’t going to work out well for people who are renting if ultimately they need to rely on the goodwill of individual landlords. The government needs to take action to suspend all rents for the duration of this period, as right now we are in a completely unprecedented situation.
“The spread of this crisis worldwide means that it is possible to see what can be done by means of quick government action where the will exists, and that is what we’re pushing for.”
Here is the full text of the template letter:
We hope you're keeping well in these really strange and fast-changing circumstances! We're watching developments about COVID-19 very closely and are, as you might imagine, really concerned. We work in ________ and live paycheck to paycheck each month. We’re going to be earning much less over the coming months. We rarely have more than one month’s rent available at any one moment.
[add more details about your situation - make it as personal as you feel comfortable to]
For these reasons, we kindly request a suspension of payments until the situation improves.
Many renters across the country are in a similar situation. As you might have heard, the government has announced a three month mortgage holiday for all landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus. The government and the National Residential Landlords Association are asking landlords to show compassion.
We hope, for ourselves and for everyone's sake, that life becomes more stable as soon as possible. Until then, it seems all we can do is be pragmatic, avoid panic, and support each other as best we can. We hope you can consider this. Do let us know if speaking on the phone would be helpful.
Looking forward to hearing your response.
Best wishes from us all
Get in touch and get involved with collective action by filling out this form: https://londonrentersunion.org/c19rentcrisis/