A group of local activists is advocating a rent strike in Portland for April rather than following the guidelines set out by the Portland Housing Bureau to notify landlords in advance if they cannot pay rent, according to reports.
A campaign organized by local activists is calling on a large number of people to refuse to pay rent in April—even if they can afford it—as a way to protest the government’s decision to delay rent payments instead of erasing them entirely, according to the Portland Mercury.
The activist group has created a website and flyers, which say, “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,” the group says on the website pdxrentstrike.info.
“We demand therefore that all Portland metro area rents be suspended immediately until the COVID-19 crisis passes, until there are tests that show this is no longer a threat posed to all of our communities.
“However, the gvernment 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!”
Attorneys have indicated there is no legal basis for a rent strike. Accordingly, any tenant who tries to rent strike could face eviction, and a hefty attorney fee bill, much like an attempted rent strike in Portland two years ago.
The Portland Housing Bureau has provided documentation that tenants are supposed to notify landlords ahead of time when rent is due that they cannot pay.
What circumstances qualify for rent deferral?
“If a tenant has substantial loss of income resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and notifies their landlord on or before the day that rent is due that they cannot make such a payment, they qualify for rent deferral under this moratorium,” the Portland Housing Bureau says. The residential rental property needs to be within the legal limits of the city of Portland or Multnomah County.
If I am a tenant and cannot pay my rent, what do I need to do?
To establish eligibility for this moratorium, affected tenants must:
“Demonstrate substantial loss of income, through documentation or other objectively verifiable means, due to job loss, reduction in work hours, business closure, school or daycare closure causing missed work to care for a minor child, missed work to care for self or a family member that was ill, or similar causes of lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
“And notify their landlords on or before the day that rent is due that they are unable to pay rent due to substantial loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Portland Housing Bureau says.
Meanwhile another group, Portland Tenants United, is asking for rent amnesty for April.
“All housing-related payments due in or for April must be waived without penalty or qualification. Where this is not possible by local mandate or because of financial hardship, landlords and homeowners may apply for assistance created in part I(D), the group says.
The group wants the April amnesty to include:
- Rent payments
- Mortgage payments
- Utility payments
- Any fines and fees owed to city or county courts
“A moratorium is a good start,” PTU spokesperson Allie Sayre told the Portland Mercury. “But a six-month payment plan is not realistic for tenants.” Sayer said that expecting low-income renters to be able to repay rent in the future—on top of their regular rent payments—is just delaying a financial crisis.