If you find yourself struggling to write your fellow tenants here’s a sample letter you may find useful:
I hope you’re doing well. I have two things to share:
First, I’m doing a grocery store run tomorrow, and if you need anything you can let me know. If you are immunocompromised, sick, or nervous about leaving your apartment, please text or call me. I am happy to pick up what you need. It may be difficult to find paper products and hand sanitizer, but food and pharmacy should be OK.
Second, I am organizing a building-wide rent strike, effective April 1. This means that I will not pay rent on April 1. Many of us have been laid off from our jobs. Everyone is supposed to stay home to self-quarantine. Not everyone has the ability to pay or work from home. Most of us are paycheck-to-paycheck. It is unfair for landlords to continue charging rent: if we don’t earn, we can’t pay. It’s as simple as that.
A city-wide rent freeze means that nobody will pay rent until the health crisis has passed. The freeze also means nobody will owe back rent or any interest on missed months. I believe that if enough of us take part in this, we can protect everyone and stay housed during this health crisis. This is an extremely stressful situation. It is wrong to add to that stress by demanding rent payments from people who have no money.
As you may know, city leadership declared a moratorium on evictions earlier this week. We cannot be removed from our homes. If the mayor does not declare a rent freeze and ensure that the city has a plan to meet everyone’s needs for unemployment and sick pay, food stamps, and stable housing, I will withhold my rent payment. I am not the only renter in this building who has made this choice. Turn off auto-pay for your tenant portal payment option, don’t put a check in the slot on April 1, or change your auto-pay information so the payment will bounce.
I have drafted a letter to our property management company to inform them of the rent strike. I will send it next week, if the rent freeze has not already been implemented. There’s a petition online that has more information about this. Over 9,000 people have signed it. I am one of them. https://www.change.org/p/seattle-city-council-seattle-rent-freeze-now
If you have questions about the tenants’ union, this is their website: https://tenantsunion.org/
If you want to talk to me about the rent strike or you need something from the store, my phone number is ___________.
Hang in there. You are not alone.