With millions of Americans losing their jobs, tenants in the Bay Area are rallying behind #CancelRent and calling for the government to do the same during the coronavirus crisis.
But some property owners say that a cascade of unpaid rents could sink our economy even further.
“During times like this, landlords should be more sympathetic,” said Andrew Yen from Oakland.
Yen wasn’t planning on being two months late on his rent until the coronavirus happened.
“I’ve been without income for about a month,” said Yen.
He and his partner’s one-bedroom apartment in Oakland goes for $2,500 a month. On Friday, the two are joining thousands of other tenants on a nationwide rent strike.
“With rent off our plate, we have more resources to buy food and afford healthcare,” Yen said.
One of the rallying cries at Friday’s May Day caravan was “no pay, no rent.” The caravan started at the Port of Oakland and circled its way to Downtown Oakland.
“If you’re canceling jobs, rents should be canceled. Bills should be canceled,” said LaShai Daniels from Oakland.
But bills – like property taxes – aren’t getting canceled, argues Berkeley property owner Sid Lakireddy, who also serves as the president of the California Rental Housing Association.
“A rent strike would have a huge cascading effect that would deliver a huge blow to the economy of California on top of the blow it’s already received,” said Lakireddy.
California’s moratorium on evictions for renters ends on May 31.
The state says property owners affected by COVID-19 still have a two-month grace period to make mortgage payments.