Taking Housing Out the Market: Rent Strikes as Political Leverage and Territorialising Agent
Since Fast Forward 2015, the Rent Strike project has developed; achieving high-profile wins at UCL and Bristol universities, hosting a national conference and spurring development of a decentralised network of national ‘cut-the-rent’ collectives. Consequently, the idea of rent strikes is becoming accepted as part of a repertoire of available tactics.
Yet despite the Grenfell tragedy underscoring the urgent need for social counter-power in the housing sector, rent strikes have yet to transfer to the wider housing movement. In the aftermath of the successful Hamburg City-Strike, ongoing progress in the Transnational Social Strike projects and emergence of the Radical Municipalism cluster, we will seek to ask the following:
- What progress has been made to-date, what have been the successes and failures encountered?
- What are the barriers to the generalisation of rent strikes into the wider housing market and what initiatives – such as tenants unions – could open the way?
- What are the similarities and differences between the Social Strike and the rent strike, how can rent strikes form part of wider organising projects, and can rent strikes exert political leverage on a subject (eg. Government, financial institutions) disconnected from its immediate target (the landlord)?
- How do we understand rent strikes as part of a radical municipalist project – can rent strikes enable the ‘territorialisation’ of neighbourhoods to create ‘left’ spaces and conversion of these ‘left’ spaces into ‘common’ space, through the withdrawal of housing from the market?
Following a period of discussion, we will then refocus the debate onto the concluding questions:
What are the horizons for the extension of rent strikes, how can they be integrated into a wider political front, and what should we do next?