Renters organize themselves to continue rent strikes


Toronto tenant activist Mark Farquharson with his wife Rosalie

RESISTANCE IS CONTAGIOUS. Renters all across the country are proving it as they build campaigns to support rent strikes.

Renters are working to spread April “Keep Your Rent” campaigns into May, with substantial efforts in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. They are doing it using social media, as well as old school methods, like posters on power poles, mail drops and info tables in apartment building lobbies. It’s all about as “grassroots” as a campaign could get.

Tenants rely on themselves

Hal Brown is a prominent activist on the Toronto Facebook page “Keep your rent.” One of Hal’s posts is a video of him working an information table he set up on his own in the lobby of the building where he lives.

Here’s how Hal sets up an April 21 post: “Just tabling in the lobby of my building. Management keeps passing by and bothering us, but other than that my neighbours seem really receptive. Gonna try and table a lot more as we approach May day.”

Here is an exchange from among all the positive comments to his post:

Banot Um asks: “Must they allow you to stay?”

Hal replies: “Yup, ‘cause we live there they can’t compel us to move our table. They even called the cops, but I guess the cops ignored them because they never came.”

The “Keep your rent” Facebook page had built to 5,832 members by April 28. Organizers say their platform was used to send over 100,000 letters to landlords in Toronto, stating that they would not be paying rent.

The page is full of posts from renters like Hal Brown, folks looking to tap into the campaign to spread the word with posters and mail drops and folks posting call outs to find out if anyone in their apartment building had already joined, or wanted to join, in the campaign.

The “Keep your rent” Facebook page, and it’s website (, are packed with information and advice on all the legalities of not paying rent, along with all kinds of support materials to use in organizing building by building. The central message in it all is: connect with your neighbours.



Toronto poster



Calgary poster



Ottawa poster



Vancouver poster


Businesses can’t make the rent either

A recent survey, of 561 small business tenants and 137 landlords across Toronto found 50 per cent of businesses could not make April’s rent, and 72 per cent of businesses feel they will not make all of May’s rent.

Landlords in the survey reported that 74 per cent of them did not receive all of April’s rent, including 29 per cent who didn’t receive any rent at all;  82 per cent of landlords feel they will not receive all of May’s rent either.

Landlords and business owners are calling for a rent relief bailout: 84 per cent of businesses and 72 per cent of landlords said rent relief bailout would help.

About one-third of landlords said that they don’t have a mortgage. Of the ones that did, 34 per cent said that they wouldn’t qualify for a mortgage deferral while 18 per cent said that they had not inquired.

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