keep your rent

People all over Toronto say they're not going to pay rent on April 1

While property owners across Canada might soon be afforded some leeway in the form of mortgage and bill payment deferrals given the unprecedented economic stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, renters are wondering if and when they too will be granted some financial breathing room.

Seeing as many people in Toronto are out of a job at the moment, and that property owners might be eligible to defer paying their mortgage for six months (and their property taxes and other bills for two), some residents are planning on outright refusing to pay their rent next month.

A hashtag, #KeepYourRent, was started along with the movement by grassroots group Parkdale Organize this weekend.

There's also a Twitter account called Keep Your Rent Toronto and an associated website, Instagram and Facebook page.

"Some of us have run out of money or don’t have much left... People are losing their jobs or are having their hours cut. And we all know rent is due," a page dedicated to #KeepYourRent reads. "While working class people struggle to buy food and supplies, landlords are waiting for a cheque. On April 1 that cheque won’t come."

The statement from Parkdale Organize goes on to reiterate the "strength in numbers" truism before providing a list of resources such as a FAQ, a guide on how to mobilize your community and printable posters.

"We should keep our rent. Our landlords will be fine. We may not be. No tenant should feel forced to hand over so much money when faced with so much uncertainty," a provided document titled Why Keep Your Rent? says.

"It will go in their bank account and it will secure their investments. While you and everyone you care about stares down the barrel of insecurity."

It is understandable why under the current circumstances — those circumstances being both the novel coronavirus and the class tensions in a city that is increasingly more expensive to try and get by in — such a movement would catch on. 

And it definitely has.

The advocacy group has so far confirmed participants in Toronto's Annex, Bloor/Islington, Bloor/Dufferin, Dundas/Dufferin, Gerrard/Coxwell, Parkdale, Rexdale and Yonge/Eglinton neighbourhoods.

Citizens of nearby cities like London and Ottawa are also jumping on board, plastering their areas with flyers for the cause.

Some have also been quick to point out that Premier Doug Ford just placed a moratorium on evictions in Ontario in the midst of COVID-19 outbreaks, meaning that those who are unable to or choose not to pay rent will not have to worry about potentially losing the roof over their head along with everything else that's going on right now.

Those tenants who were already feeling a bitter sense of injustice after the announcement of the possible financial breaks for homeowners can now rest assured that they will have the support of others in the city should they have to forgo paying their rent this coming month (especially if that rent is as exorbitant as Toronto rent tends to be).

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