Rent Strike ‘Cause We Gotta: Is It Just Lipstick On A Pig?

sidewalk with 'rent strike 4/1' written in chalk
An early call for a rent strike in Buffalo, New York.

April 1 arrived with a whimper from renters. Across the U.S., COVID-19 related circumstances meant that at least 30% of renters could not pay rent1.

May 1 saw an entirely different complexion painted onto a similar circumstance. Rent Strikes were claimed to be happening across the country.

But many actual renters, whether labeled as strikers or not, simply couldn’t pay the rent. Read more in Fast Company: See Where The Nearly 200,000 Rent Strikes Are Happening In The U.S

Meantime, small landlords are standing up to be counted. Many of them are just a few missed rent receipts away from losing their rental buildings to the lenders who are financing them. Read more in The Guardian: Landlords On The Pandemic: ‘Everyone Has An Impression Of Us As Rich And Greedy’

The above article records either a simple statement of reality or a veiled threat — take your choice — by suggesting that vindictive landlords might somehow take action against ‘strikers’ as opposed to ‘non-payers.’ Whatever it is, it signals a continuing divide between two groups — renters and landlords — who are quite obviously trapped in the same boat until federal, state, or local legislatures take some action.2

It is encouraging to see that in at least some jurisdictions, landlords and tenants have actually recognized their mutual interest and banded together to lobby for action that will satisfy the needs of both groups.3

At the date of this post, statistics are still a-gathering to define the size and scope of May’s national rental non-payment, whether as a result of a rent strike, or a simple ‘can’t pay.’ But an article exploring how events are playing out in New York City suggests that the actual ‘rent strike’ seemed much smaller than activists had hoped for. Read more in BISNOW: May New York Rent Strike Made Noise But Fell Far Short Of Participation Goal


  1. See in CNN: New Data Shows More Americans Are Having Trouble Paying Their Rent
  2. Read more in The HillOur Bills Are Due On May 1 — Where Is Congress?
  3. Try: COVID-19 Exposes Glaring Weakness of PPP Housing Supplements


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