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Group of Seattle tenants plan rent strike amid coronavirus crisis

A group of Seattle tenants hopes a rent strike will encourage state leaders to cancel rent payments during the coronavirus crisis.

The deadline to pay May's rent is just days away. Feeling the pressure, a group of Seattle tenants hope a rent strike will encourage state leaders to cancel rent payments during the coronavirus crisis.

Jasper Rose started the Rent and Mortgage Strike Washington Facebook page to encourage others to join a movement in solidarity. 

"The idea is to get our representative or representatives or elected officials to actually take measures to protect those that are most vulnerable and the condition is, if they if they don't take action before May 1, then there will be a rent strike,” said Rose. 

A rent strike, Rose said, is a push to help the city's most vulnerable who may not be able to pay rent once Governor Jay Inslee's statewide ban on evictions expires after June 4. 

RELATED: Gov. Inslee extends state eviction moratorium through June 4

"If you're accruing debt, and you cannot pay that debt, then those protections don't really help you," said Rose. "This is a band-aid, what we're doing right now." 

Rose would like to see other tenants band together to encourage landlords and state leaders to come up with a better solution, adding that a rent strike would be the last resort. 

Edmund Witter with the King County Bar Association's Housing Justice Project told The Seattle Times, rent strikes work only when tenants make precise demands. 

The political director for the Washington Community Action Network told The Times that state laws meant to prevent evictions aren't designed for people to withhold rents.

RELATED: 'If they are qualified, they'll get it': Unemployment concerns continue during coronavirus

Experts recommend tenants be cautious and negotiate with their landlords.

Seattle landlords are also expressing their concerns with the city. On Tuesday, landlords will hold a virtual town hall to discuss actions taken by the city.

"We are a group of 80 independent landlords in Seattle, who are very concerned about the direction Seattle City Council is taking in terms of the moratorium on evictions, the rent freeze, and now, a "rent strike" where tenants are actively being encouraged to stop paying their rent," Charlotte Thistle with the Seattle Grassroots Landlords organization wrote in a statement about the rent strike event.

RELATED: Mom-and-pop landlords also struggling with rent amid Washington's coronavirus crisis

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