Four tenants have started a rent strike at the East Portland apartment building where a new landlord hiked rents up to 45 percent.

As first reported in Wednesday's Murmurs, tenants at the Southeast Ash Street building say the rent strike is less political theater than necessity.

"If I had to pay October's rent, I would be shit out of luck," says Cassandra Brown, 23.

Brown and two other tenants have also asked the landlord to forgive rent through November to save money to move, according to Margot Black of Portland Tenants United, which helped residents form a tenants' association.

Two of the tenants faced evictions proceedings because they hadn't paid rent for a longer period of time. Both of those cases settled by Wednesday, with one tenant planning to move out and leave the state this week.

"The options I have here are running out," says Lakesha Kennedy, 35, who grew up in Portland and has lived in the building since 2013. She and her 9-year-old daughter are moving to Arizona to live with a friend of hers.

"I definitely can't afford to pay $1,200 for this kind of place," Kennedy says.

Caption: Google images
Caption: Google images

A&G Rental Management, which runs the building, allowed tenants to use security deposits for October rent. They've so far extended the move-out date to the end of the month, instead of the original deadline of Oct. 21.

Tenants, whose security deposits do not cover the full month, won't have to pay anything further.

"We are working really, really hard to accommodate the tenants' transition," says Erlin Taylor of A&G Rental Management.

The building has become a flashpoint for concerns about rents rapidly spiking across the city.

Protesters from Portland Tenants United held an all-night vigil outside the home of Landon Marsh, owner of the Ash Street building, in advance of the court appearance for one of the evictions proceedings.