Tenants Plan Rent Strikes as Pandemic Worsens

Eviction moratoriums across the country are keeping people in their apartments, but millions of Americans could not make their rent payments April 1. They cannot pay May 1 either. And when the bans are lifted, homelessness will be staring them in the face. 

Five weeks ago, the Covid-19 pandemic cost Tiana Caldwell, of Kansas City, Mo., her computer skills instructor job at a community college.

“No one should be expected to make payments during this time, no payments, no late fees, no debt. That’s why I have joined many across the state and country on a rent strike. I can’t pay rent and it is not my fault. I need my governor and my federal government to use their extended power in this crisis to do their job and protect tenants and cancel rent,” said Caldwell, a leader of the affordable-housing advocacy group KC Tenants.

In Los Angeles and New York landlords are now bracing for strikes. The average monthly apartment rent in both cities is more than $2,500.

And in Texas, the state supreme court has extended the state’s moratorium on evictions until May 18. Attorneys at Lone Star Legal Aid in Houston say that has not stopped some landlords from trying to oust tenants by posting notices to vacate on their doors.

“We have seen several cases in which the landlord has conducted a self-help eviction by either locking the client out or conducting utility shutoffs,” according to the firm.

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