food not rent

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE

Can you pay rent on May 1st? What about June? Where will you get the money to pay for food, medications, necessities? What about your neighbors, your family, your friends? How long will this crisis last? Choose food. Choose medications. Choose your future. Choose your community. Those who can’t pay, won’t; those who can pay, don’t. Join the rent strike. Keep your rent.

We do not know how long we will be out of work and confined to our homes. Federal and state governments have not and will not provide the resources we need to survive. Save your rent money for basic necessities, food and medications. Support your neighbors who have no choice. We need whatever money we have. You can’t eat the rent.

Below is a step-by-step guide to protecting yourself while not paying rent during the COVID crisis. Included below is a letter to send to your landlord, notifying them that you will not be paying your rent, as well as instructions on how to join the L.A. Tenants Union, so that you will be joined with hundreds of tenants across LA. You are not alone. By joining a city-wide rent strike, we build power to demand the cancellation of rent and to collectively bargain with our landlords and lawmakers. If we organize, tenants can build power that will last beyond this crisis and win a just housing system for all.

Share this guide with your family, your friends, and your neighbors: foodnotrent.org

STEP 1

JOIN LATU: WE WIN WHEN WE ARE MANY

The LA Tenants Union is an autonomous, member-funded union which fights for the human right to housing. From our five years of organizing tenants against displacement and landlord harassment, with rent strikes, direct action, and media campaigns, we know there is strength in numbers. One of us is easier to evict than all of us.

We win when we’re many. Not paying rent is an action many of us are forced to take during this crisis. When others in our buildings withhold their rent check in solidarity with us, we build tenant power. When we withhold our checks and use our collective power to demand rent cancellation and collective bargaining, we’re on a rent strike. That power grows when we join a union, who will support us and have our backs throughout our fight. LATU’s twelve local chapters will be fighting for a cancellation of all rent debt accrued during this crisis for as long as it takes. Click here to get involved with your local LATU chapter.

You have a constitutional right to organize in your building and your community. If you organize with LATU, you will not face harassment, eviction, unsafe conditions, or any housing struggle alone. Your union is behind you!

Join The LATU Now

Enter your email and zip, and we’ll match you with your local chapter.

Join The LATU

STEP 2

SEND THE LATU LETTER OF NONPAYMENT TO YOUR LANDLORD AND LATU LOCAL REP EVERY MONTH YOU CANNOT PAY RENT

Fill out and send this letter to your landlord. Make a copy so that you have documentation that the letter was sent.

Contact and send a copy to your local chapter of the L.A. Tenants Union. Find your local here.

Forward a copy to your representatives in LA’s City Council, so they are aware of your situation and the situation of tenants across LA. Your LATU local can forward the letter for you, or you can find out who your City Council rep is at here.

Send the letter of nonpayment for each month that you cannot pay your rent.

STEP 3

MAKE A SIGN OR BANNER FOR YOUR BUILDING. SHARE THE RENT STRIKE IMAGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA. #FOODNOTRENT #JoinLATU #CANCELRENT

As a participant in this collective rent strike for Food Not Rent, it’s in your self-interest to have more people involved! Make a sign and put it in your window or a banner on your building saying Food Not Rent – Join the Rent Strike – Cancel Rents! Post it on social media with the hashtags #FoodNotRent #JoinLATU #CantEatTheRent.

Make sure neighbors know they are not alone, make sure landlords know they are not owed rent money we can’t earn, and make sure politicians know our demands.

food-not-rent

STEP 4

NOTIFY YOUR LOCAL CHAPTER AND ATTEND A MEETING

Notify your local LA Tenants Union chapter that you have sent a letter of nonpayment to your landlord. Local chapters are there to bring tenants together, provide support and up-to-date information, provide a space to gather in these uncertain times, and a means to strategize winning the cancellation of rents and the right to collectively bargain with our landlords. You can find your local chapter here.

To keep our members safe, LATU local meetings are being held over ZOOM for the duration of the crisis. You can join a meeting by computer or phone. Just follow the link on the website above to see the schedule for local meetings and click the ZOOM link.

STEP 5

ORGANIZE YOUR NEIGHBORS, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS. TELL THEM YOU ARE CHOOSING FOOD NOT RENT.

ASK THEM IF THEY WANT TO DO THE SAME THING, AND CONNECT THEM WITH THE LA TENANTS UNION.

FAQ

  • You just don’t have it. If you can’t afford to pay the rent in April, you are not alone. You can make your nonpayment visible and act in conversation and in concert with others, joining with others for support and solidarity.

  • You may need the money very soon. We don’t know what the economic fall out of COVID-19 will be, but the actions of our government so far tell us they will never do enough to ensure that we survive. When every penny counts in such uncertain times, budget for food, medications, and necessities, not your landlord’s pocket.

  • If you are in a position to choose to pay rent or not, stand with those who aren’t. Your decision to withhold the rent protects everyone, amplifies the demands of the most vulnerable, and will leverage tenant power for a more just housing system for all.
Nobody knows how long it’s going to take for people to be able to get out of their homes and back to work, or go back into an economic stable situation. The more tenants organize to support each other, the better all of us will do.
At this moment, city and state governments as well as the legislative branch have postponed eviction proceedings against tenants. But postponing evictions does not mean they won’t be planned or attempted, and it is risky to fight against your landlord by yourself. This is why we urge tenants to join LATU and not go through this process alone.

  • At its meeting on April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council adopted an emergency court rule that effectively stops all evictions, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, for the duration of the COVID‐19 emergency. The rule is applicable to all courts and to all eviction cases, whether they are based on a tenant’s missed rent payment or another reason. This new court rule will apply until 90 day after the Governor lifts the state of emergency related to the COVID‐19 pandemic, or until it is amended or repealed by the Judicial Council.

  • Mayor Eric Garcetti has issued an executive order that places a moratorium on evictions through May 31st, if tenants are unable to pay because of the impacts of the COVID-19 virus. LA’s City Council has extended payment of back rent for a year after the crisis. By submitting a letter of nonpayment, you are notifying your landlord that you are invoking these new rules.

  • The LA County Board of Supervisors also bans no- fault evictions, disallows added charges, lates fees and interest during this crisis, extends payments plans for repayment of back rent to 12 months, and states landlords may not harass or intimidate tenants who exercise their rights through May 31, 2020. This applies to all cities and unincorporated areas of LA County that do not already have similar protections for tenants during this crisis.

  • Eviction is a process. If you receive a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit, you should absolutely respond to this letter, but it is NOT an eviction. The landlord must go through a legal process to file an eviction and take you to court, before he can order you out of your home. This is a lengthy process which could take many months. In that time, you can work with your Local Chapter to secure legal advice and support. The long backlog of cases after courts reopen will work in the favor of tenants, as flooded courts mean it will take even longer for evictions to process. We can use the scale of the problem to add force to our demands.
It is unjust that tenants are expected to pay rent when the government order to shelter in place prevents them from earning it. It is unlikely that already struggling tenants will ever be able to pay back rent. Eviction moratoriums are just a postponement of rent debt. We are asking city, state, and federal representatives to cancel all tenant debt during the crisis. We are organizing to bring our landlords to the negotiating table. The more of us that withhold our rent, the less likely they are to evict all of us, and the stronger our demand for rent cancellation and collective bargaining will be.
If you receive a 3 Day Notice to Pay your rent or Quit, this means that your landlord is demanding that you pay the rent or they will start the eviction process against you. Get in touch with your LATU Local Chapter about any notice you receive, and we will strategize a response together. To beat mass evictions, we need mass membership.
DON’T SIGN ANYTHING. You are under no obligation to sign an individual payment plan with your landlord. These contracts could be used against you to force pay back rent, and undermine our collective power to demand rents be cancelled for the duration of COVID-19. Use the LATU response letter included in this guide to respond to a landlord inquiry for a repayment plan, and talk to your local chapter about any communication from your landlord.
NOPE. The governor’s emergency order and the protections approved by LA City Council indicate that you should *retain* some documentation of their COVID-19-related hardship, not that you have to show it to your landlord. None of these rules give your landlord the power to decide whether any documentation is valid, and in no way do they entitle landlords for personal information like bank statements. Use the LATU response letter included in this guide to respond to a landlord inquiry for documentation.
The impact that this crisis has on our lives could be irreversible. But while the virus spreads relief is not yet on the way. When federal support comes, we know it will prioritize banks, corporations, and landlords, as we saw in the crisis of 2008. When state support comes, we bet it will defer to cities to work it out themselves. When city support comes, we imagine it will be much like their “eviction moratorium” which is just a deferral of rent. In the meantime, we can’t wait. Our actions are a way to use our collective power and make the government and our landlords face the realities of tenants’ needs.
You have rights against retaliation and landlord harassment. Write down every incident and threat that you receive, with the date and time of the occurrence and whether there were any witnesses. Take pictures and video. You have a right to record any incident that occurs inside your apartment or home. Try to keep your interactions with your landlord in writing so there is a record you can refer back to. And keep in touch with LATU. Let other members in your local chapter know what you’re experiencing so you can strategize about the best way to respond.
We have a constitutionally protected right to organize in our buildings and in our communities. California code 1942.6 prevents landlords from evicting a tenant for organizing, and offers protections against retaliation, in the form of harassment, a sudden rent increase, or refusal to make repairs. Don’t fall for intimidation! Exercise your rights!
Reach out to your contacts by text, WhatsApp, or social media. Try putting up flyers in your building’s lobby, entrances, with your or LATU’s contact information. You can keep a safe distance and still have conversations with neighbours you see, or by knocking on their doors. Make sure to collect their contact information, reach out and share this guide, and encourage them to join LATU.