Rent withholding occurs when a tenant feels that they have a valid reason not to pay their landlord for something that is wrong with their domicile and it is a very powerful non-violent action. Whether you are renting a single home or are in a complex with other tenants you may decide to withhold rent individually or as a collective body. Once there has been an agreement between the two parties, rent will be paid and all parties will carry on with every day life. One thing to keep in mind if there is any type of rent withholding for more than a month, it is expected that all current and back rent is to be paid. Be sure to check local law books, however, because there are some states where rent withholding has been deemed to be illegal.
Withholding rent is not something that just came about in the last 50 years or so. In the mid 18th century, in the northern colonies of the newly formed United States there was conflict between a group of farmers and their local counties. Because of differences between the two groups, the farmers decided to withhold their rent from the county. There were actually a few farmers who went a little more on the “violent” side and rescued other farmers that had previously been locked away for not paying their rent.
In the late 1800’s there was a large clash between the Government of England and the citizens of Ireland. This came about due to the fact that the citizens of Ireland were farming on English owned land. The Irish felt that the English were unfairly using their labor and wanted to make it known that they wanted the land if they were the ones to keep it up and continuously produce crops.
Rent withholding has also happened recently in Wales, when a large group of trailer home renters decided to not pay their rents when they found out there was going to be an increase in their monthly rent. This may have been fine with the renters if their homes were actually kept up well and in great working condition. This was not the case, however—their trailers were actually said to be in “deteriorating conditions.”
Historically rent withholding has been a great way to get your point across when you want to take some sort of non-violent action, and because it is said that money makes the world go around, keeping someone’s money will definitely get their attention.
Continue reading the 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.