Rent strike

Rent strike

A rent strike is a method of protest commonly employed against large landlords. In a rent strike, a group of tenants come together and agree to refuse to pay their rent en masse until a specific list of demands is met by the landlord. This can be a useful tactic of final resort for use against intransigent landlords, but carries the obvious risk of eviction in some cases.

Historically, rent strikes have often been used in response to problems such as high rents, poor conditions in the property, or unreasonable tenancy demands; however, there have been situations where wider issues have led to such action.

Another type of collective action concerning rental property is a landlords' strike, which is undertaken by a group of landlords. Such an action would be most likely to be undertaken when government tenancy policies (or enforcement thereof) are perceived to be patently unfair to the landlords. The most common means of action in this case would entail the landlords collectively refusing to rent out any vacant and soon-to-be-vacated properties, in hopes of provoking a massive housing shortage that would quickly compel the government to change the relevant policies.

Examples of Rent Strikes

During the Irish Land War of the 1880s and during WWI when the landlords of tenement buildings in Glasgow sought to take advantage of the influx of shipbuilders coming into the city and the absence of many local men to raise rents on the tenements' remaining residents. These women left behind were seen as an easy target and were faced with a rent increase of up to 25% and would be forcibly evicted by bailiffs if they failed to pay. As a result of this rent increase, there was a popular backlash against the landlords and a rent strike was initiated. This was led by Mary Barbour, who with her "army" would forcibly prevent the bailiffs from entering the tenements and would pelt them with flour bombs.

During "the troubles" in Northern Ireland, participants in the Civil Rights movement withheld rent and council rates from local councils in protest at internment.


  1. Sinn Féin - History of the Conflict
  2. On the Tenant Power Question by Dan Jakopovich

See also

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