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An organized protest on the part of tenants in which they withhold the payment of consideration for the use or occupation of property from their landlord until their grievances are settled.
A rent strike is ordinarily unlawful since a tenant who occupies leasehold premises has a legal obligation to pay rent. Even if a landlord does not make needed repairs or provide necessary services, a tenant ordinarily is not released from the obligation to pay rent unless he or she leaves the premises and can show that they were uninhabitable, or unless the tenant can demonstrate that the landlord was attempting to force him or her to move out.
Certain courts refuse to recognize rent strikes as lawful on the grounds that any failure to pay rent constitutes a breach of the tenant's obligation and legally makes the tenant subject to eviction. A rent strike, however, is distinguishable from other failures to pay rent because its purpose is to coerce the landlord to take a particular action. Increasingly the courts have recognized that a rent strike is not an ordinary failure to pay rent. Some jurisdictions have developed procedures through which tenants are able to pay their rent into the court, or to a court-appointed receiver. The landlord receives the money only after essential repairs have been made, or the receiver can use the funds to contract for such repairs.