By the YouTube Channel “public education struggle”, which reports:
As of early April, 31% of renters in the United States cannot pay rent. No one should have to choose between paying rent to a landlord or feeding their children.
We want you to know about some of your rights as a renter. Housing activists fought for and passed a law in Oakland that protects tenants from being evicted if they cannot pay rent due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you can show that you suffered a significant drop in income or increase in expenses due to COVID-19 during Oakland’s State of Emergency, your landlord can never evict you for not paying rent from the state of emergency period. The state of emergency is March 27th to May 31st. You cannot be evicted for not paying April or May’s rent, if the reason you did not pay was Covid-19 expenses or lost income.
If you are in such a situation, it is important to keep records of your finances such as pay stubs or medical records, so you can prove your financial difficulty. You are not required to share this information with your landlord, but keep these documents in case they are needed later. You may notify your landlord that you intend to not pay the rent until further notice as a courtesy, but you are not legally obligated to do so. Most importantly, do not sign any kind of payment plan or any special agreement with the landlord! Some landlords are trying to get their tenants to sign agreements that will lock them into payment plans.
Across Oakland and other cities as well, tenants are not paying rent because they have no other option. Some organizations [TANC, ACCE logos / links / phone] are trying to help build towards a rent strike, where tenants unite and don’t pay their rent until their demands are met. Many tenants are forming tenant committees with their neighbors, in order to communicate with their landlord as a united group. A good way to start is by talking with your neighbors, and by contacting one of these groups [ACCE/TANC…].
If your landlord is threatening you with eviction or late fees, or is demanding you sign something, or you think they may be violating your rights, contact one of these organizations for legal advice [Centro Legal / Causa Justa / ACCE/TANC. It may take time for them to respond, but remember: the courts are closed and no one can be evicted right now.
The Oakland eviction moratorium is a protection for tenants, but it is nowhere near enough. For one thing, you still technically owe the rent, even though you can never be evicted for not paying it. That is why it is important to fight for rent forgiveness (meaning that the rent during this period is cancelled), so that people can emerge from this crisis without massive debts to landlords and utility companies.
Another problem is that the emergency period only covers rent due before May 31, but we know that many people will still be struggling with lost jobs or reduced hours for a long time after that. That is why it is important to fight for the emergency period to be extended.
Landlords will probably try to use lawsuits and collection agencies to charge people for unpaid rent. But if we build a powerful movement, and more people join and support the rent strike, it will be much harder for the landlords to pursue legal action against tenants.
The growing movement for rent forgiveness comes out of the larger movement to put the needs of the people first, instead of the bank accounts of the landlords, banks and corporations. More and more people are demanding #Internet4All, #Utilities4All, and #Housing4All.
The increasing burden of rent is making many lives unbearable and tearing apart entire communities. The only way we can resist the power of the landlords is by joining together.
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