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Activists urge renters to tell landlords that ‘they can't, and won't, pay rent’

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:  

Dear X

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/

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

  • icon

    That's good advice is it? money claim online, at a cost of around £60 to the landlord == a CCJ on the tenants credit history for the next 6 yrs, mmm a clever move ?

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    • 29 May 2020 09:41 AM

    Pretty good thing to do if you ask me.
    Good value for money.

    I get forced to do it regularly and I love doing it...90% of the time I get back the money that is owed, and if not, I have the pleasure that the CCJ causes these crooks substantial problems for at least 6 years or more (I happily issue an ongoing CCJ, until they pay up what they legally and morally owe to me.

  • icon

    There is nothing in that letter that goes beyond what has already been instigated, namely that tenants can request a rent suspension (not cancellation) for up to three months if there is a significant deterioration in circumstances, and that landlords can do the same with their mortgages.

    I'm sure most landlords will be happy with rent cancellation if the government are prepared to fund this, as is being actively proposed by some US democrats. Otherwise, it's a bit like going to the the supermarket for your weekly shop and then walking out without paying for it. Normally that is called theft, but if it is a landlord you are defrauding then apparently it is called social justice.

  • Daniela Provvedi

    This really, really annoys me!
    I hope that the NRLA start campaigning for us, otherwise what the heck are they there for?
    I have given tenants in 2 of my properties 30% discount (one for 3 months and one until Dec) and I'm unable to claim mortgage holiday (I wouldn't want to even if I could).
    I am showing compassion, and I'm very sorry that tenants are in this difficult position. I have been putting money aside for rainy days like this pandemic, but my savings are slowly but surely getting less and less.
    If the government accepts the LRU's request to suspend rents, we're screwed! Some LL would become bankrupt and others forced to sell up.
    What this pandemic has shown is that savings are important, and everyone, everyone has to save for a rainy day.

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    There are some people speaking up for landlords, but the NRLA isn't one of them.

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    Whoever wrote this letter is an absolute moron. The spelling is AMERICAN and this is England. In England we use the Queens English.

    The example that stopped me reading the rest of this diatribe is '..........we live PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK....' In this country we pronounce it the same but here in England we spell it PAYCHEQUE.

    Says it all doesn't it?


    Britain is Britain.
    A little Englishcentric there, Retired Agent!!!
    Believe it or not, we do exist in Wales, Scotland and N/Ireland, despite the fact that you try to ignore us.

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    Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay
    Good strategy, they should also try that this afternoon with their groceries at Tesco and see how it works out.

  • Tony Egan

    Perhaps they could rent a home off of their local authority, problem solved. Or ruin their credit rating and in turn their ability to rent. Interestingly, when I see this type of post there is never a mention of the consequences. One case consequence could be that a landlord loses their own home, their rental property which may have been their pension and ultimately making a good decent person, the landlord, reliant on the state.

  • icon

    Yes, great idea, I think I will stop paying my gas bill, water, electricity, council tax, and food bill and I am going to fill up my car with petrol and just drive off in the future.
    In fact anyone who couldn't be arsed saving up any cash for a rainy day should all start a campaign to stop paying any of these bloodsuckers, there obviously all just crooks and loaded, and will do fine without our cash.
    Really I just can't understand why any of these landlords need the money anyway, and some please explain to me why everything is not free!


    Hi John.
    Unfortunately, we are considered to be the 'devil incarnate' by the socialists.
    If they had their way, we would all be driven to bankruptcy and nobody would be able to profit from renting homes.
    I think that the time is coming when it will just not be viable anymore and it may be prudent to consider selling up at least some of our property portfolio.
    If Labour have a resurgence under Starmer and Boris f***s up, there is every likelihood that they will get elected and hammer us with rent controls and further taxes.
    You are no doubt aware how fickle voters are and can change their minds in an instant.
    Especially those Labour voters that supported Boris this time.
    Labour are a different 'ball game' without Corbyn at the helm.

  • icon

    We should definitely reply with ‘fine but this will result in a CCJ and also after you been evicted think about moving out of the area as I will advise all local landlords and letting agents who you are and what you did. All landlords and all agents alerted in a 50 mile radius

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    • 29 May 2020 14:25 PM

    Quite agree.
    I do not understand why some landlords give away their income!!!!!!

    Smell the coffee....You are running a business!

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    • 29 May 2020 20:23 PM

    I do believe that LL need to adjust their BTL business model such that in the event a tenant is unable to pay the market rate that LHA will at least cover all costs.

    This means reducing leverage to that which could be afforded by LHA.

    It would mean LL having to sell off some properties or to pay off vast chunks of mortgage debt.

    This maybe unpalatable for many LL but it must make business sense to know that worse case scenario the business is supportable by LHA rates.

    Sweating residential letting assets to the maximum is all very well until the tenants stop paying the market rent for whatever reason.

    Having the backstop of LHA to cover a LL business model would be a wise move by LL.

    I know there would be massive attendant costs for many LL to reduce their leverage.
    But I see little alternative as bankruptcy awaits LL unable to meet the costs of their letting assets.

    Doing all this will actually result in far better yields for LL though of course it would mean for many LL including me sacrificing the possibilities of CG across multiple properties.
    The chances of CG for at least the next 10 years is precisely zero.
    My properties are worth no more than they were 10 years ago.
    It could easily be 20 years before property values exceed those in 2008.

    I'm afraid like it or not LL need to make themselves far more financially resilient.

    LL should aspire to become unencumbered as soon as they can.
    As this CV19 situation has shown being a leveraged LL based on market rents rather than LHA rates is too risky.
    LHA if qualified for is effectively a Govt wage which will always be paid.

    LL need to base their leverage on LHA rather than market rates

    I also don't get why these LRU groups believe that paying costs for ILLEGAL ECONOMIC MIGRANTS is the correct thing to do!!!!
    Simply beggars belief!!


    Paul, anyone going into BTL for CG is a total fool, CG is a bonus if it happens, BTL is for the % return on the purchase price, I aim for 6% but am happy with 5% or even 4% , more than any return I will get from any bank account, and a CG only happens when you sell, I don't look to sell, all I want is a % return on my hard earn't cash.

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    I have a strategy for dealing with the Can't pay, won't pay spongers and if any landlords experience this, please do contact us.
    We are finding more and more that some landlords are coming to us, not for the usual ending a Tenancy issues, but for setting up a tenancy and vetting advice on considering Tenants.
    ( We are doing this Without charge ! )

    • 29 May 2020 20:42 PM

    I think it is the case that many LL are simply incapable of carrying out appropriate DD and setting up a tenancy correctly.

    This is why I believe ALL LL should be licenced and forced to undergo at least 30 hours CPD training.

    This should make LL more aware of how to do things correctly.
    If LL take you up on your offer you would become extremely busy!!!

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    pb--are there 2 of you? jejyll and hyde?

    • 30 May 2020 06:56 AM

    I am not partisan especially.
    Usually am but I try to understand and appreciate other perspectives.
    I do all with the best of intentions to provide a good accommodation service at market rents.

    Quite a simple business model you would think!

    But for many they wish SMALL private LL would all disappear down a hole.
    A not very practical solution to accommodation shortages!
    I have no issue with being forced to professionalise.
    I had to do it as a lirry abd coach driver.
    Cost me £390 to do 30 hrs of CPD without which I cannot drive for money.
    Have to do it once every 5 years.
    I really don't see that as too much of a burden.
    Of course licencing will never hapoen as there are thousands of fraudulent LL out there who would never pass licencing criteria.
    Just a smalm example.
    How many LL are letting to DSS tenants in breach of their mortgage conditions.
    They ard all fraudster LL.
    They would not pass a licencing requirement to have the correct mortgage product and conditions for the type of tenant they have.
    Associated with that little issue is whether as required by lenders the LL has the correct insurance.

    If the lender bans DSS tenants how can the LL have DSS buildings insurance?
    That means the building is insured for the wrong type of tenant.
    Now let us presuppose the LL didn't bother advising the insurer of DSS tenant occupation.
    In the event of total loss and the insurer finds out the tenants were DSS they will reject the claim.
    If the lender fi ds out which they surely will they will call in the loan.

    How would that work for the fraudster LL who has an uninsurable hole in the ground remaining!?

    Mant LL wilm ve required to advise their lender that their tenants arr now in receipt of HB.
    Will the lender require the LL to evict as mortgage conditions state no DSS!?
    If required to evict or the lender calls in the loan how to evict when it could take years!?
    So many things to trip leveraged LL up.


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