Facing eviction? Know your rights and organize, organize, organize!
Updated: Aug 1
Since COVID-19 hit, renters have been struggling to keep our heads above water. As of July 25, the $600 unemployment expansion and most eviction bans have been pulled out from under us. New reports say 40% of renters will experience rental shortfalls that could put them at risk of eviction this year.
With our backs to the wall, there is only one option: Organize! All renters need to band together to protect our communities from the threat of eviction, and to do that we need to share tactics for fighting back.
Eviction Notice - What Next?
A "Notice to Quit” on your door means that the landlord is trying to take you to court. You’ll receive a date of the eviction hearing where you will get to make your case. Some landlords tell tenants they don’t have to attend this hearing - this is a lie, and a cruel tactic to trick renters into de facto eviction via “default judgments,” when a judge awards the eviction simply because a tenant did not show up in court.
This notice does not mean you are evicted. If you are determined to stay in your home, this could be just the beginning of the fightback. As long as you have a roof over your head, it’s not too late to organize.
Don’t Leave - Stay and Fight!
Distribute written notes or flyers to renters in your building, other properties owned by your landlord, and your whole neighborhood to reach as many people as possible and get them onboard to stop the eviction. Circulate an online petition to sign up all your neighbors to support each other. If it’s you this week, it could be them next week!
Even in a pandemic, tenants can find safe ways to discuss and strategize via online meetings using Zoom or Skype. You can start a private Facebook group or email chain for your building to stay in communication at all times. Ask questions and build support from your local Rent Strike Facebook groups.
Turn up the heat: picket outside the landlord’s home or office. Conduct a phone or email campaign to let them know the community is fighting back! When you have enough people under your landlord prepared to take action: #RentStrike! If we withhold rent collectively and in large numbers, they can’t afford to evict us all!
The courts will be swamped with eviction cases. Pack the court rooms, hold demonstrations outside the courts and at City Hall to apply maximum public and political pressure to push them to halt evictions. Just days ago, an anti-eviction demonstration in New Orleans shut down the court!
You are not alone!
If the judge awards the eviction, you will get another notice to leave before a sheriff shows up to try to put you out on the street. The day of a sheriff’s arrival must be a day of massive, politicized mobilization. Immediately post a call to action to Rent Strike Facebook groups in your area and their thousands of members, and RS2020 can reach out using the millions of emails and cell phone numbers we have gathered.
Organize direct action to physically resist the eviction in one form or another - car caravans honking horns and displaying signs can blockade the road in and out of the neighborhood, and crowds of chanting protestors can block the entrance to the building. Our greatest strength is numbers and unity in action.
RS2020 is helping organize tenants around a stay-and-fight framework. Renters have organized their buildings, begun collective negotiations with landlords, and have either won rent reductions or carried out rent strikes - many from a starting point of organizing for the first time. Your fellow renters are prepared to have your back.
We are fighting more than evictions: we are taking on this whole exploitative system in which workers must pay exorbitant rents or be terrorized by the threat of homelessness. The tools we use to fight evictions today can build toward a powerful working class movement for needed measures like rent control, taxing the rich to fund publicly-owned social housing, and ultimately guaranteeing housing for all - but we have to start now.
Support Rent Strike 2020 with a small donation and receive an email copy of our Organizing Toolkit for an in-depth guide to getting started!