CAA today condemned the threatened rent strikes that tenant advocacy groups are attempting to organize in California. 

Extreme tenant-rights groups have urged all tenants to withhold May’s rent — even if unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tom Bannon, chief executive officer for the California Apartment Association, said rent strike organizers are “irresponsible, unethical and unlawful.” Bannon also condemned tenants who see the pandemic as an excuse to cheat their landlord.  

The strikes are intended to coerce rental property owners and elected officials into canceling rent and erasing any obligation to pay accumulated back rent. Such a policy is untenable and would create an exodus from the rental housing market, Bannon said.   

“Choosing not to pay the rent causes a serious chain reaction that goes well beyond the renter and landlord,” he said.  “When rent is not paid, rental property owners may find themselves unable to cover their own bills, including their mortgage, utilities, property upkeep, and if they have employees, their payroll. If a landlords’ employees aren’t paid, how are those workers going to feed their families or pay their own rent?” 

Still, Bannon is hopeful that rent strikes will not be widespread.  

“Most renters are honest people and will cover their rent, or at least part of it, if they can,” he said.  

Bannon draws a bright line between rent strikers and tenants who cannot pay because of COVID-19 related financial hardships.  

Such renters should explain their situation to their landlord, he said. CAA continues to urge rental property owners to act with patience and compassion when dealing with tenants affected by the coronavirus. To learn about CAA’s Safe at Home Guidelines, including its recommended freeze on rent increases, click here

Related content: