Pay Your Damn Rent

If you can, obviously. If you can’t, don’t. Your landlord can’t evict you right now (at least not in Ontario), but keep in mind that at some point you’re going to have to make it up once this all blows over.

The reason I mention any of this is because there appears to be a movement afoot encouraging people to keep their rent, regardless of their ability to pay it. Websites like this one try to explain it, but to me the logic just doesn’t work.

The whole thing seems to be based on the assumption that landlords are a group made up almost exclusively of large corporations with bottomless resources. That’s wrong. I’ve known several landlords in my day, and more than one of them is a person, just like you and I. They’re using your rent money to help feed their families. And even if your landlord is a big, reasonably wealthy company, their employees aren’t, and the last thing a lot of big companies need is an excuse to pay those people less or not pay them at all. A sudden, gigantic drop in revenue would be exactly that, in case that isn’t obvious.

And why just pick on landlords? So much of everyday life is dominated by big corporations with bottomless resources. Why not a keep your grocery money movement or a keep your prescription drug fees movement or even a keep the money you would have spent on your new work clothes movement? All of these are services being provided to you on some level by people, and to the best of your ability, you should pay for them. It’s only fair. Singling out one class of people and saying “baaaah, they’ll be just fine with no money”, on the other hand, is not.

The government should absolutely be doing more to protect renters. My suggestion is a freeze on any increases for the duration of the health crisis plus a minimum of one year to allow people to get back on their feet, and more supports for those with low or no incomes to help them through would be nice too.

The idea here is that by not paying rent as a form of mass protest, we’re all doing our bit to help vulnerable people. Again, that’s wrong. Ask yourself this. When the time comes for everyone’s landlords to make up for whatever shortfalls they’re experiencing, who is going to be hurt by the resulting torrent of above guideline increases the most? That would be the vulnerable, in case it isn’t obvious. They’re either going to have to pay them, move out and take their chances on an already unafordable market, or find and pay a lawyer and/or overwhelm all the free, under resourced legal clinics to fight for their lives. That’s…sub-optimal.

This isn’t me trying to spew talking points because I’m in the pocket of big landlord. A lot of them can be real assholes at times. But I think that those in favour of this concept aren’t seeing the forest for the trees. This isn’t a time for hastily thought up protests. What this is is a case where those of us who can should do our best to help out those who can’t without sacrificing the livelihoods of those who might.

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