Sample letter for tenants participating in a rent strike

Dear Resident [Name]:   

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has thrust all of us into unknown territory.  We recognize this is a frightening time for everyone, and we are committed to working with our residents, who are facing a hardship, to ensure they can continue to afford to live here.  

I understand you have decided to participate in a “rent strike,” electing not to pay the rent during this time.  You must understand that your decision to not pay the rent, especially if you are not affected financially by the COVID-19 virus, will make a bad problem worse.  It will be extremely detrimental to the property, to all your neighbors who are truly struggling due to COVID-19, and to the hard-working employees and vendors who provide service at the property. 

Despite Governor Newsom’s announcement that he was able to reach an agreement with some banks to allow property owners to defer their mortgage payments, the Governor’s agreement only extends to properties with less than 5 units and does not cover all smaller buildings.  We are still required to pay the mortgage, upcoming taxes, insurance, utilities, and other expenses at the property.  At the same time, we have employees and vendors who are also fearful that no income to the property means we have no funds to pay them, and they will lose their jobs.   

If you are not currently facing a COVID-19 related hardship, you are required to pay rent as usual. As employers and members of our community, we want to ensure we can continue to support the personnel who work every day to provide essential services to all residents.  We want to be able to help tenants and their families facing a hardship due to COVID-19; some of your neighbors may have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced and are without childcare in light of school closures.  Your cooperation helps those tenants who are truly unable to pay.  A general rent strike is not helpful. 

While we understand the frustration people are feeling and the uncertainty that the current situation presents, choosing to defer rent for any reason other than a COVID-19-related loss of income is a violation of your rental agreement as well as all state and local orders.  In order to maintain the property and continue services, we will have to take the necessary legal actions to recover possession of the property and collect the rent you owe.” This could result in your default being reported to credit bureaus and negatively affecting both your credit and ability to find housing in the future.   

If you have suffered a job loss or other substantial loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are unable to pay rent, we want to work with you.  We have already developed arrangements with some residents in these situations.  Please contact [me or name of contact] at [phone number and/or email here] so we can work together to relieve your fears about payment.  While there is no state or local law that allows renters to ignore their rental obligations, I believe we can work together to find a solution to ensure that you continue to have a safe place to live.  

Thank you for your consideration. 

With sincerest appreciation,