It’s easy to feel powerless if you’re renting. The odds are stacked in favour of landlords – when they raise rents, we have to pay up or move out. That’s where rent strikes come in: Tenants get together and withhold rent until the landlord meets their demands.
Got a landlord who won’t fix the leaky roof or black mould above your bed? Stop paying rent and see if that changes their mind. And it works, too: During lockdown, students organised the largest rent strike in the UK for 40 years and won rent reductions and rebates worth millions.
What you might not know is that women were – and still are – deeply involved in the history of rent striking. In fact, as campaigner and housing academic Glyn Robbins puts it: “If you went back and looked at practically every housing justice campaign in the 20th and 21st century almost anywhere in the world, it will be women at the fore.”
Historically the home was – often still is – women’s responsibility, even if they also worked. But instead of lamenting this arrangement, they’ve seen it as an opportunity to reclaim power and dignity. If working men were the cornerstone of the labour movement, it was women that laid the foundation for housing movements.
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