Small landlords concerned over rent strike movement

SEATTLE -- With May rent due just around the corner, many are stressed of paying it with so many people out of work.

The words ‘cancel rent’ were seen on a car on Saturday -- just one way people are protesting while socially distancing in a pandemic.

“Already a third of renters have not paid rent for the month of April right now we have a patchwork of moratoriums and evictions across the country,” Jane Cutter with Party for Socialist and Liberation said.

And Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant going as far as to encourage tenants to boycott paying rent even if they can afford to pay.

Calls for such a significant strike is shocking to some landlords worried about how to cope in that situation.

On Tuesday, dozens of small landlords joined a town hall meeting worried about the repercussions of a rent strike.

“I do agree this is not the time to evict or raise rent on tenants but I am concerned about Sawant organizing a coalition of people refusing to pay rent,” small landlord Claudia Campanile said.

Campanile says it will encourage unscrupulous behavior during a time when people should be working together.

Groups calling on a rent strike also support mortgage moratoriums for landlords including Sawant but  landlords still say they have felt no support from her and many other Seattle council members

“All I’ve heard is the divisiveness of evil landlords, pitting groups of people together which I think is so divisive and not helpful especially in times like this when so many people are hurting,” Campanile said.

Seattle Grassroots Landlords, a group made up of 80 independent landlords, says they are also concerned about talks to extend eviction moratoriums beyond the pandemic by council member Lorena Gonzalez.

“The one that we are most concerned about and we are urging people to contact city council about is Gonzalez’s six-month ban so whenever the emergency ends so if it ends the end of May that means 6 more months that residents can use the calendar as a defense,” Roger Valdez with Seattle Grassroots Landlords said.

In that situation, many are worried about losing their homes to foreclosure or forced sale. That would, in turn, lead to their tenants to find somewhere else to live.

Q13 News requested to hear from Sawant on Gonzalez on Tuesday but was told they were booked for the day. But Council Member Andrew Lewis did join the town hall meeting and he told landlords that he was listening to their concerns. Lewis said he is a tenant himself and is paying his rent and encourage others who can to do so.