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How landlords became monsters Renters are engaged in a new class conflict

The landlord TUC. (Credit: Animal Farm/Associated British-Pathé)

The landlord TUC. (Credit: Animal Farm/Associated British-Pathé)


June 7, 2023   6 mins

Everyone under the age of 40 has their landlord horror story. We trade them, like old war wounds. My own, in retrospect, is rather pleasingly metaphorical, something of a capsule (or cubicle) scatological comedy. At one point, as part of a flatshare, I was renting a room in a basement flat in Finsbury Park, little more than a breezeblock bog of damp and mould. (We didn’t just have mould growing on our walls. We had mould growing on our clothes. We had mould growing in our shoes.) My abiding memory of the place is buckets of bleachy water turning green-black as we soaped the mildew off our crumbly home.

But then, at one point through our winter in this toxic swill, our bathroom ceiling caved in. The cause was wonderfully disgusting. The upstairs toilet’s “out” pipe (that’s the one bearing the shit) had been leaking into our ceiling for some interminable length of time. The waste (the shit) had then slowly seeped into the plaster and terracotta above until it became structurally unsound. One day in January, a great yawning gash opened up, and the next it fell in. It then took our landlord around two weeks to clean and repair this mess, which meant washing and bathing surrounded by the debris: shit-saturated shards of plaster and terracotta. We gave our notice in those soiled days and moved out about a month later.

It was a dispiriting exit. But even in the moment, being shat upon from a great height spoke more effectively than any mountainous graph to what is unjust about the current housing crisis. People (especially young people) live in very poor conditions, kept there by private landlords who suffer from near-criminal levels of apathy, for which we are expected to pay handsomely (my annual rent in the shit-flat was around 40% of the London Living Wage at the time — just under £10k). But the problem is, since everyone has a similar story, you’ve probably already heard it, if not lived it.

The political gravity of this situation lies not in its specifics, though, but in its generalities. Over the past week, in its house journals and attendant think tanks, the Conservative Party’s leading intellectuals have been puzzling over the fact that young people hate them. And they intimate that this has something to do with housing. They have finally listened to the housing scientists, with their heavy dossiers of facts and figures. A narrative has been acknowledged: the privatisation of state housing, followed by the transformation of property into a financial asset, has made housing and especially renting cripplingly expensive. This is far too late to redress or ameliorate — the best it can become is a historical lesson. The question that the Tories should be asking is a deeper and more threatening one. What is housing inequality doing to the political psychology of those living through it? What has it already done to us?

My answer is look to the language; look at the language we use for those we blame. Landlords — parasitic, indolent, unscrupulous landlords. In our oaths and curses, we reduce property owners to an existence of pure economic extractionism. Even landlords don’t want to be called landlords anymore. At the National Landlord Investment Show, a kind of bizarre lettings TUC, they threw around some alternatives — “Property investor”? “Accommodation provider”? — designed to help them slip back into anodyne anonymity. This cultural slander, found at all levels of output, from TikTok to acclaimed non-fiction, is the linguistic wing of something more profound. It is the first, experimental stirring of something rather anachronistic in our hyper-political age: social, tribal solidarity. Something a bit like class consciousness.

This isn’t class understood in the cod-Marxist sense, with society sliced like a layer cake between worker, owner and aristocrat. Such arbitrary categories have long been discarded. Instead, as E.P Thompson wrote in The Making of the English Working Class, class is something that “happens”. And it happens when “some men, as a result of common experiences (inherited or shared), feel and articulate the identity of their interests as between themselves, and as against other men whose interests are different from (and usually opposed to) theirs”. Class does not pre-exist, but is spun in the language people live and create.

Since the turn of the millennium, the number of private renters has doubled to 11 million people. And this growth has been driven by the young. A third of those aged between 35 and 45 rent privately, as opposed to a tenth in 1997, a proportion which rises the younger you are. And many of those not renting are living with parents, which would make private renting their direct alternative. In other words, across income levels, private renting has become as near to an economic universality as one can find in our atomised society. But most important: under present trends, this is never going to change. High marginal tax rates, low wages and rising house prices mean that those who do not receive a large windfall from generous or dead family members will never buy a house. They will retire with a landlord, paying the bulk of their salary and perhaps their pension to a people they have spent their adult life despising. They who “love to reap where they never sowed” as Marx had it.

So much writing about our housing situation is self-pityingly childish, whinging over intrusive mezzanines and landlords’ disastrous DIY. It curries little favour with the older generation it is directed towards. But, left unchecked, the weight of sentiment is symptomatic of a more powerful force — the sense of existing in an unfair productive relationship. Like all great political vibes, it has the benefit of being both felt and true. And most transformative processes in British history have been the product of such a concoction, a wrong that can be mathematically proven and then communicably sketched.

Because the popular timeline of our past is one of political nightmares, stalked by political ghouls and monsters who provide a horror mask for our deeper concerns. Recently, our darkest dreams have been peopled by crooked Luxembourgian Eurocrats. Before that, we relocked our doors and windows, woken by the march of donkey-jacketed trade unionists. But reach back into the distant interwar period and a dynamic more like our own emerges. Between the pause of one world war and resumption of the next, Britain was learning to think of itself as a “democracy” for the first time. And in this age of new and nervous egalitarianism, two of the most repellent economic caricatures in popular culture were socially-useless mountebanks: the profiteer and the rentier. Like landlords in our housing crisis, both were linked to moments of social distress which they had somehow turned to their advantage.

John Maynard Keynes was obsessed with this plutocratic individual who in his conception lived off the national debt, furnishing his Depression with public money. And the cheater, the social swindler, was the constant villain of the era’s more politicised fiction. He crops up in the otherwise sunny books of J.B Priestley, but particularly in the works of A.J. Cronin, the novelist who was most representative of the Thirties mood. (His 1937 novel The Citadel is credited by some with establishing the emotional need for an NHS.) But in his earlier book The Stars Look Down, a contest is established between an autodidactic Labour MP and his double, a profiteer-chancer who avoids war service and cheats his way into arms-trading and factory-ownership through underhand business dealings.

It was not long before such evocations reached the lips of politicians themselves. In Clement Atlee’s 1945 election broadcast, he established his opposition to those who benefitted from “private enterprise, private profit and private interests”, and who demanded “more rent, interest and profit”. The dichotomy was clearly intended to appeal to a public already aware of the difference between its productive many and its exploitative few. That Labour government was the most ambitious reforming government of the century, and brought about the greatest programme of house-building and home-improvement the country had ever seen. The Conservative government that followed only imitated and expanded upon it.

Language tracks the governing ideology of its day. After Thatcherism brought a halt to anything like the forward march of labour, Britain developed converse cultural neuroses. We gnashed at scroungers and skivers; we valorised the entrepreneur. As William Davies recently described, the working-class hero devolved from the punk, the disruptor or the organiser (Arthur Scargill), towards something more like the tamed yob, the capitalist-enthusiast (Chris Evans, Keith Allen). Britain, though, is more than capable of producing a culture that punches up. Think how harshly the word “banker” was hissed in the immediate post-2008 reconciliation. But despite the best efforts of the Occupy movement, bankers were fortified in their City towers, too lofty to organise against. Landlords, by contrast, inhabit a space much closer to home — our homes.

Today, millennials are approaching a sort of maturity. But in an arc that frustrates analysts of such matters, they stubbornly refuse to mature politically and shift Right-wards. Not only this — they are leaning markedly to the Left, especially on economic issues. Reared on a lifetime of economic vulnerability, of course they find redistribution appealing and resent the predatory potential of private ownership. Over the grim interwar, it took decades for this yearning to consummate itself. At the next election, millennials will predominate in the majority of constituencies. All those years of removal vans and disconcerting stains, of lost deposits and scratching mice, may finally find their voice.


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Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
11 months ago

Orwell upset his socialist friends with the book Road to Wigan Pier by pointing out that most landlords were retired old ladies trying to squeeze a meagre living out of one or two properties. I became an inadvertent landlord by buying the house I was renting an apartment in. All I can say is that not all tenants are a joy and being a landlord is a nuisance. The issue millennials don’t seem to want to acknowledge is the link between immigration and housing costs. Canada brought in 950,000 immigrants last year. That is almost triple the number that we used to admit. They all go to Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. You can rail against landlords with their one bedroom investment condo all you like – but until these immigration numbers come down we will be in a perpetual housing affordability crisis.

Last edited 11 months ago by Peter Johnson
John Dellingby
John Dellingby
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I’m a Millennial, YIMBY and rented for around a decade before being able to buy with my wife and I agree on immigration completely. Mass migration and NIMBYism are the two plagues that are ruining this country and making life miserable for the majority.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
11 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

In the US it was a government decision to make homes the only investment of the commons. One cannot build a national economy on housing you need factories.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
11 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

In the US it was a government decision to make homes the only investment of the commons. One cannot build a national economy on housing you need factories.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

With you that immigration is *part* of the problem but I’d say that the *demand* for housing by the wealthy (very much alive and kicking and far from ‘old’ as Matt Goodwin so deceivingly calls them) elite is the biggest and most under-discussed driver here. There is no shortage of housing. It is a distribution problem caused by a house building sector (which like any insufficiently regulated industry) serves the highest bidder, not those most in need. There are more houses than *households* in Britain, because of a growing asset class which is hoarding them as safe investments – a fact far more people need to be aware of.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

There is no shortage of housing. The problem is that it is often not where people want to live.

You refer to the housebuilding sector as insufficiently regulated but in fact it is often the over-regulation that is the problem. Of course a commercial builder is only going to build if there is a profit in it for him and planning regulations make many schemes uneconomic. Regulations seek to force builders to build housing that is for the less-well-off and is consequently less profitable or even unprofitable and this pushes up the price of the other housing they are building as part of the development. House building is a low margin business.

Equally regulations that make it more difficult for landlords to get rid of nuisance tenants make many who buy for investment, to try to maintain the value of their money not necessarily to actually make a profit, reluctant to let the property out as it is more hassle than it is worth if they get a dud tenant that doesn’t pay and trashes the property. A lot of overseas investors keep their properties empty for this reason.

The problem is that there is a shortage of houses and flats to let where people want to live compared to the constantly increasing number of people in the UK.

If all you are after is very cheap housing buy a property in an one of the isolated Italian villages where you can get property for a few pounds. Or if you don’t want to go abroad there are plenty of very cheep properties in former mining villages in Durham. The problem is that most people want to live near where there is work and a thriving local economy. Supply and demand is always what drives prices not wicked greedy landlords.

Last edited 11 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

This is what I have told young people and now my kids. Avoid the big cities. Move to a small town. Not only will housing be affordable – but they are desperate for many trades and professions. For example there are too many lawyers in cities but a shortage in rural areas. You may have a lower salary but the housing costs alone will offset that.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

They might also avoid the impeding joy of smart cities. Banning driving on a Sunday in cities posited today.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

They might also avoid the impeding joy of smart cities. Banning driving on a Sunday in cities posited today.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

True nimbyism AND planning are issues. Between bat houses and newt protection it’s pretty much impossible to get a site to development under 2 years (and that’s going it). We are childless living in the home ounties. We want thwm to build but are astonishwd by the attitudes of our neigh ours who all have kids but don’t want new homes. Not sure how pulling up the ladder on your own offspring works in an evolutionary perspective. Since so many primary homes are now pensions perhaps survical of thw fittest stsrting with them.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Supply is controlled; real estate does not operate in a free market. Agents curb listings of lagging properties. Certainly with an appreciating asset putting a tenant in a property is a liability; especially since one is making so much money with the rising equity.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

This is what I have told young people and now my kids. Avoid the big cities. Move to a small town. Not only will housing be affordable – but they are desperate for many trades and professions. For example there are too many lawyers in cities but a shortage in rural areas. You may have a lower salary but the housing costs alone will offset that.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

True nimbyism AND planning are issues. Between bat houses and newt protection it’s pretty much impossible to get a site to development under 2 years (and that’s going it). We are childless living in the home ounties. We want thwm to build but are astonishwd by the attitudes of our neigh ours who all have kids but don’t want new homes. Not sure how pulling up the ladder on your own offspring works in an evolutionary perspective. Since so many primary homes are now pensions perhaps survical of thw fittest stsrting with them.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Supply is controlled; real estate does not operate in a free market. Agents curb listings of lagging properties. Certainly with an appreciating asset putting a tenant in a property is a liability; especially since one is making so much money with the rising equity.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

And the big four housebuilding companies basically have a monopoly and practice land hoarding to keep prices high.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Housing is the main cause of inflation. But the Catch 22 is that home values cannot be lowered because of the amount of profit those elite nobles and old ladies would lose.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Mark M Breza

True it would damage consumer confidence and so possibly crash the economy. Hence why researchers like Beth Stratford have proposed a scheme called the common ground trust where (after the raft of necessary measures starts bringing down house prices) the government would buy up the land under houses for a minimum price to prevent homeowners going into negative equity/lose money on their houses. This would also have the added advantage of putting more land into the hands of the state, ensuring that it can profit from house sales while not allowing prices to reach such atronomical heights again, as is the effect of state land ownership in Singapore, which the Tories say we’re supposed to be trying to be more like.

https://peg.primeeconomics.org/policybriefs/common-ground-trust

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Mark M Breza

True it would damage consumer confidence and so possibly crash the economy. Hence why researchers like Beth Stratford have proposed a scheme called the common ground trust where (after the raft of necessary measures starts bringing down house prices) the government would buy up the land under houses for a minimum price to prevent homeowners going into negative equity/lose money on their houses. This would also have the added advantage of putting more land into the hands of the state, ensuring that it can profit from house sales while not allowing prices to reach such atronomical heights again, as is the effect of state land ownership in Singapore, which the Tories say we’re supposed to be trying to be more like.

https://peg.primeeconomics.org/policybriefs/common-ground-trust

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

There is no shortage of housing. The problem is that it is often not where people want to live.

You refer to the housebuilding sector as insufficiently regulated but in fact it is often the over-regulation that is the problem. Of course a commercial builder is only going to build if there is a profit in it for him and planning regulations make many schemes uneconomic. Regulations seek to force builders to build housing that is for the less-well-off and is consequently less profitable or even unprofitable and this pushes up the price of the other housing they are building as part of the development. House building is a low margin business.

Equally regulations that make it more difficult for landlords to get rid of nuisance tenants make many who buy for investment, to try to maintain the value of their money not necessarily to actually make a profit, reluctant to let the property out as it is more hassle than it is worth if they get a dud tenant that doesn’t pay and trashes the property. A lot of overseas investors keep their properties empty for this reason.

The problem is that there is a shortage of houses and flats to let where people want to live compared to the constantly increasing number of people in the UK.

If all you are after is very cheap housing buy a property in an one of the isolated Italian villages where you can get property for a few pounds. Or if you don’t want to go abroad there are plenty of very cheep properties in former mining villages in Durham. The problem is that most people want to live near where there is work and a thriving local economy. Supply and demand is always what drives prices not wicked greedy landlords.

Last edited 11 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

And the big four housebuilding companies basically have a monopoly and practice land hoarding to keep prices high.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Housing is the main cause of inflation. But the Catch 22 is that home values cannot be lowered because of the amount of profit those elite nobles and old ladies would lose.

Jim R
Jim R
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I sometimes think about buying real estate as an investment and every time I investigate, I come away thinking its all a Ponzi scheme. Just look at the asking price on rental properties – add up the rents and deduct the cost of borrowing, maintenance and tax and you will find in all cases there’s not enough income there to provide a return on your equity. The only hope of getting ahead is that the value of the real estate will continue to increase and you can sell for a big ‘profit’ to the next sucker. Governments tell us that house price inflation is not real inflation, and instruct us to ignore their money printing and only to look at their heavily manipulated ‘consumer price indexes’ – but the massive money printing of the last 20 years is clearly the main culprit. The houses did not become more ‘valuable’ – the money became less valuable, and all that ‘new’ money had nowhere to go but housing (and crypto etc). But don’t call such gambling an ‘investment’. They turned the entire residential real estate market into a Ponzi scheme where the best you can hope for is more asset inflation and getting out before it crashes. Landlords in this situation will never invest in their units because they are already underwater paying the massive mortgages. They just poor money in and hope that asset inflation and immigration will keep the music playing just a little longer.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim R

Exactly right
Where did all the printed money go? It is not under a mattress somewhere near you. It went into asset prices and the rich notionally got richer although if it all crashes the could find themselves significantly poorer

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
11 months ago

Indeed, if you buy property to let with a mortgage that is not fixed for the long term and interest rates go up and property values go down you can be wiped out financially. Socialists don’t factor in risk when they look at profit.

Shale Lewis
Shale Lewis
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Naturally, because socialists know f**k-all about making a viable business or producing useful products. They have no real strategies for creating wealth, only redistributing wealth created by the evil capitalist blodgers.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Where in the south east of England (where most housing investment takes place) is it the case that landlords have lost money by investing in housing in the last 40 or more years? Genuinely the first time I’ve heard that buying a house is a risky investment, unless it’s on a cliff or something.
Certainly in the case of the landowner’s profits, Churchill was right when he said:
“Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains – and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labour and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived … the unearned increment on the land is reaped by the land monopolist in exact proportion, not to the service, but to the disservice done.”

Shale Lewis
Shale Lewis
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Naturally, because socialists know f**k-all about making a viable business or producing useful products. They have no real strategies for creating wealth, only redistributing wealth created by the evil capitalist blodgers.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Where in the south east of England (where most housing investment takes place) is it the case that landlords have lost money by investing in housing in the last 40 or more years? Genuinely the first time I’ve heard that buying a house is a risky investment, unless it’s on a cliff or something.
Certainly in the case of the landowner’s profits, Churchill was right when he said:
“Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains – and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labour and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived … the unearned increment on the land is reaped by the land monopolist in exact proportion, not to the service, but to the disservice done.”

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
11 months ago

Indeed, if you buy property to let with a mortgage that is not fixed for the long term and interest rates go up and property values go down you can be wiped out financially. Socialists don’t factor in risk when they look at profit.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim R

Exactly right
Where did all the printed money go? It is not under a mattress somewhere near you. It went into asset prices and the rich notionally got richer although if it all crashes the could find themselves significantly poorer

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Lords of the Land. So some old ladies retirement is more important than a fair housing policy ? Here in the US rent is not going up because of a bunch of immigrants; it is rising because real estate has been set up as controlled investment for the upper class.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Mark M Breza

Bang on – perhaps the case of the US (what with its size and less regulated housing industry) more starkly demonstrates how rising house prices is a problem of not enough rather than too much government?

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Mark M Breza

Bang on – perhaps the case of the US (what with its size and less regulated housing industry) more starkly demonstrates how rising house prices is a problem of not enough rather than too much government?

Margaret F
Margaret F
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Yes. It’s immigration. As with so many other things (jobs, healthcare, energy, food, etc), there is plenty of cheap housing in England for the English. What we see everyday is that there is not enough for the whole world in this one tiny island. And regarding the plight of young people, how long have we sat back and watched as English youth were pushed to the back of the queue as immigrant groups were given preference?

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Margaret F

How long have I, as a young Engishman, to sit back and watch while you and the right wing media falsely blame immigrants for the housing crisis while letting the hoarding asset class continue to keep supply artificially low in order to ensure maximum return on investment?

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Margaret F

How long have I, as a young Engishman, to sit back and watch while you and the right wing media falsely blame immigrants for the housing crisis while letting the hoarding asset class continue to keep supply artificially low in order to ensure maximum return on investment?

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I’m a Millennial, YIMBY and rented for around a decade before being able to buy with my wife and I agree on immigration completely. Mass migration and NIMBYism are the two plagues that are ruining this country and making life miserable for the majority.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

With you that immigration is *part* of the problem but I’d say that the *demand* for housing by the wealthy (very much alive and kicking and far from ‘old’ as Matt Goodwin so deceivingly calls them) elite is the biggest and most under-discussed driver here. There is no shortage of housing. It is a distribution problem caused by a house building sector (which like any insufficiently regulated industry) serves the highest bidder, not those most in need. There are more houses than *households* in Britain, because of a growing asset class which is hoarding them as safe investments – a fact far more people need to be aware of.

Jim R
Jim R
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I sometimes think about buying real estate as an investment and every time I investigate, I come away thinking its all a Ponzi scheme. Just look at the asking price on rental properties – add up the rents and deduct the cost of borrowing, maintenance and tax and you will find in all cases there’s not enough income there to provide a return on your equity. The only hope of getting ahead is that the value of the real estate will continue to increase and you can sell for a big ‘profit’ to the next sucker. Governments tell us that house price inflation is not real inflation, and instruct us to ignore their money printing and only to look at their heavily manipulated ‘consumer price indexes’ – but the massive money printing of the last 20 years is clearly the main culprit. The houses did not become more ‘valuable’ – the money became less valuable, and all that ‘new’ money had nowhere to go but housing (and crypto etc). But don’t call such gambling an ‘investment’. They turned the entire residential real estate market into a Ponzi scheme where the best you can hope for is more asset inflation and getting out before it crashes. Landlords in this situation will never invest in their units because they are already underwater paying the massive mortgages. They just poor money in and hope that asset inflation and immigration will keep the music playing just a little longer.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Lords of the Land. So some old ladies retirement is more important than a fair housing policy ? Here in the US rent is not going up because of a bunch of immigrants; it is rising because real estate has been set up as controlled investment for the upper class.

Margaret F
Margaret F
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Yes. It’s immigration. As with so many other things (jobs, healthcare, energy, food, etc), there is plenty of cheap housing in England for the English. What we see everyday is that there is not enough for the whole world in this one tiny island. And regarding the plight of young people, how long have we sat back and watched as English youth were pushed to the back of the queue as immigrant groups were given preference?

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
11 months ago

Orwell upset his socialist friends with the book Road to Wigan Pier by pointing out that most landlords were retired old ladies trying to squeeze a meagre living out of one or two properties. I became an inadvertent landlord by buying the house I was renting an apartment in. All I can say is that not all tenants are a joy and being a landlord is a nuisance. The issue millennials don’t seem to want to acknowledge is the link between immigration and housing costs. Canada brought in 950,000 immigrants last year. That is almost triple the number that we used to admit. They all go to Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. You can rail against landlords with their one bedroom investment condo all you like – but until these immigration numbers come down we will be in a perpetual housing affordability crisis.

Last edited 11 months ago by Peter Johnson
Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago

The left likes to sort people neatly into victim/victimised categories:
Workers good, bosses bad.
Tenants good, landlords bad.
Labour good, Tories unspeakable.
Some of us believe that life is not that simple.

Last edited 11 months ago by Malcolm Knott
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Yes but realistically, on balance – who deserves their money more? Those who work for it, or those who get it by sitting on assets? As Bertrand Russell once said:
‘Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.’
Get a job at your local tesco as a shelf stacker and see that difference for yourself.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I worked from the age of 16 until I was 78 with less than an month’s illness. I also inherited a single property which I let at a market rent to help provide for my retirement. Does that make me deserving or undeserving? See what I mean about it not being simple?

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Oh come now. I have worked in two factories, painted houses, been a labourer. I am now a highly paid professional. It took 30 years of hard work to get from one to the other. I own my home but when we bought it we were terrified of the mortgage, we had tenants we didn’t really want for 15 years to help pay that mortgage. The house had been a rooming home for hippies in the 70’s so it wasn’t a real treat. Now it looks great – but we waited 20 years to save the money to fix it up. Most people are neither victims nor villains and very few people are just handed wealth.

Last edited 11 months ago by Peter Johnson
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

To both of you – I’d say it doesn’t make you deserving or undeserving but it does, as the above article makes clear, make you quite possibly less deserving of your wealth than those generations below who may well have to work longer and harder for even less capital acquisition. BUT: As someone who wants a fairer society that rewards hard work, my solutions to the housing crisis would not hit hardest on those who have worked for their assets in their own lifetimes – of course I would want to go after the big landlords (like the Grosvenors) who have had astronomical wealth since the Norman invasion. For the same reason I was not massively keen even on Corbyn’s manifesto pledge to tax the top 1% because I know that most people even in that wealth bracket do work somewhat for their wealth – it’s that wealth contained in huge estates or offshore bank accounts (i.e. wealth at it’s most superfluous) that really needs to be taxed, and the taxing of which would affect very few people indeed. We are the 99.9% – me and you. Now let’s build a fairer system.

Last edited 11 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Sounds familiar: Tax the Rich! Or, rather, some of the rich; specifically those who have investments in land. Not because it will yield more revenue but because we resent their wealth and think we should be entitled to confiscate some of it.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

You can laugh at me but what’s your alternative? Taxing those who have more than enough to live 10,000 lifetimes I doubt is an egregious idea to most people nor is compulsorily purchasing some of the land of families who have almost ÂŁ10bn’s worth (often in London in the case of the Grosvenors) and have done nothing for it for generations. ‘Not because it will yield more revenue but because we resent their wealth and think we should be entitled to confiscate some of it.’ – what a laughable strawmanning of my point. Of course the cheaper and better located housing resulting from these measures will increase productivity – our economy will grow once more of ordinary people’s earnings goes into their own pockets and not those of their landlord.Tell me otherwise. You have a generation to persuade.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

So your solution is legalised property theft and taxing landlords out of the market.
George Osbourne already tried the latter and succeeded only in massively reducing the supply of properties available to rent.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Desmond: I don’t think I am straw-manning you. Do you think my single property, a two-bedrooms semi (which my parents worked for all their lives and is now rented to a professional couple), should be confiscated? Perhaps you do, though I can assure you that would be most unwelcome to both me and my excellent tenants and if I thought it was a serious threat I would sell up.
Or is it only the Grosvenors whose property must be confiscated? I ask, because the only difference, economically speaking, is that they are richer than me and therefore in some mysterious way, less deserving.
I repeat, it’s the old mantra, Tax the rich!

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

To be clear: no I don’t think your second home should be confiscated! And as far as I know, no one in the labour party has ever suggested confiscating people’s second homes. As said above, I think council housing (and increased government powers to compulsorily buy land) is the main reform that’s needed. Although, many countries with more affordable housing (Austria, Singapore etc) do have taxes on second homes to try and disincentivise the hoarding of properties (but how much this does for housing affordability I don’t know – in the case of Singapore I suspect it’s more the fact that the government owns all the land; a strange consideration when you think how many globalist Tories aspire for the UK to become a Singapore on Thames).
The essential difference between you and the Grosvenors? A good question. Well the first difference would be use of property – if your second home is being used to house a couple who work in the UK (serving need) for a reasonable rate that is an essential difference to say a developer providing luxury flats for oligarchs (serving demand). Do you not also think that they are less deserving simply because for more generations they have been able to accrue capital simply by (I imagine) paying financial advisers to tell them where to invest whereas your family have all worked hard for what you have?
And yes I get that my proposal is an ‘old’ one. But not being original is not the same as not being effective, right?

Last edited 11 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

To be clear: no I don’t think your second home should be confiscated! And as far as I know, no one in the labour party has ever suggested confiscating people’s second homes. As said above, I think council housing (and increased government powers to compulsorily buy land) is the main reform that’s needed. Although, many countries with more affordable housing (Austria, Singapore etc) do have taxes on second homes to try and disincentivise the hoarding of properties (but how much this does for housing affordability I don’t know – in the case of Singapore I suspect it’s more the fact that the government owns all the land; a strange consideration when you think how many globalist Tories aspire for the UK to become a Singapore on Thames).
The essential difference between you and the Grosvenors? A good question. Well the first difference would be use of property – if your second home is being used to house a couple who work in the UK (serving need) for a reasonable rate that is an essential difference to say a developer providing luxury flats for oligarchs (serving demand). Do you not also think that they are less deserving simply because for more generations they have been able to accrue capital simply by (I imagine) paying financial advisers to tell them where to invest whereas your family have all worked hard for what you have?
And yes I get that my proposal is an ‘old’ one. But not being original is not the same as not being effective, right?

Last edited 11 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Good point about danger of taxing landlords out of the market. You wouldn’t want to suddenly raise taxes on them because (as with rent controls too quickly implemented in some case studies) that can indeed lead to them exiting the market. When I wrote a thesis on the English housing crisis I concluded that renters’ rights would need to be introduced gradually and that rent controls are often too blunt an instrument. What does need to happen and which no one can rationally argue against from the point of view of fiscal sense, is a renaissance of council housing which could well require to compulsory purchase (not theft of property) of land currently being neglected by landowners or hoarded by developers. Some people shrilly shout in protest to that proposal saying it conflicts with human rights. It doesn’t. How do you think railways or even shopping centres get build? Do governments magically find lines that run through hundreds of miles of land all with landowners willing to sell up? No – the right of a government to buy land (especially for something as essential as housing) exists both in the UK and the US (there known as the power of eminent domain as you may remember). Hope that helps.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Desmond: I don’t think I am straw-manning you. Do you think my single property, a two-bedrooms semi (which my parents worked for all their lives and is now rented to a professional couple), should be confiscated? Perhaps you do, though I can assure you that would be most unwelcome to both me and my excellent tenants and if I thought it was a serious threat I would sell up.
Or is it only the Grosvenors whose property must be confiscated? I ask, because the only difference, economically speaking, is that they are richer than me and therefore in some mysterious way, less deserving.
I repeat, it’s the old mantra, Tax the rich!

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Good point about danger of taxing landlords out of the market. You wouldn’t want to suddenly raise taxes on them because (as with rent controls too quickly implemented in some case studies) that can indeed lead to them exiting the market. When I wrote a thesis on the English housing crisis I concluded that renters’ rights would need to be introduced gradually and that rent controls are often too blunt an instrument. What does need to happen and which no one can rationally argue against from the point of view of fiscal sense, is a renaissance of council housing which could well require to compulsory purchase (not theft of property) of land currently being neglected by landowners or hoarded by developers. Some people shrilly shout in protest to that proposal saying it conflicts with human rights. It doesn’t. How do you think railways or even shopping centres get build? Do governments magically find lines that run through hundreds of miles of land all with landowners willing to sell up? No – the right of a government to buy land (especially for something as essential as housing) exists both in the UK and the US (there known as the power of eminent domain as you may remember). Hope that helps.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

So your solution is legalised property theft and taxing landlords out of the market.
George Osbourne already tried the latter and succeeded only in massively reducing the supply of properties available to rent.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

You can laugh at me but what’s your alternative? Taxing those who have more than enough to live 10,000 lifetimes I doubt is an egregious idea to most people nor is compulsorily purchasing some of the land of families who have almost ÂŁ10bn’s worth (often in London in the case of the Grosvenors) and have done nothing for it for generations. ‘Not because it will yield more revenue but because we resent their wealth and think we should be entitled to confiscate some of it.’ – what a laughable strawmanning of my point. Of course the cheaper and better located housing resulting from these measures will increase productivity – our economy will grow once more of ordinary people’s earnings goes into their own pockets and not those of their landlord.Tell me otherwise. You have a generation to persuade.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Sounds familiar: Tax the Rich! Or, rather, some of the rich; specifically those who have investments in land. Not because it will yield more revenue but because we resent their wealth and think we should be entitled to confiscate some of it.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

To both of you – I’d say it doesn’t make you deserving or undeserving but it does, as the above article makes clear, make you quite possibly less deserving of your wealth than those generations below who may well have to work longer and harder for even less capital acquisition. BUT: As someone who wants a fairer society that rewards hard work, my solutions to the housing crisis would not hit hardest on those who have worked for their assets in their own lifetimes – of course I would want to go after the big landlords (like the Grosvenors) who have had astronomical wealth since the Norman invasion. For the same reason I was not massively keen even on Corbyn’s manifesto pledge to tax the top 1% because I know that most people even in that wealth bracket do work somewhat for their wealth – it’s that wealth contained in huge estates or offshore bank accounts (i.e. wealth at it’s most superfluous) that really needs to be taxed, and the taxing of which would affect very few people indeed. We are the 99.9% – me and you. Now let’s build a fairer system.

Last edited 11 months ago by Desmond Wolf
James Stangl
James Stangl
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Are you implying that landlords earn money by “sitting on assets?” I don’t discount the existence of slumlords, but most folks that I’ve known in the States who own rental properties work to make sure that they are kept up, and work more when tenants occasionally trash them. They certainly delegate some phyiscal work to maintenance workers, but they’re ultimately responsible for those properties. And they enjoy all the headaches of ownership, plus those of government regulations and rent controls in many areas.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  James Stangl

Not entirely! But I do think it’s less work than making money through a full time job whilst also paying rent no? Again I’m not attacking small scale landlords (as I hope my above comments make clear)..

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  James Stangl

Not entirely! But I do think it’s less work than making money through a full time job whilst also paying rent no? Again I’m not attacking small scale landlords (as I hope my above comments make clear)..

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I worked from the age of 16 until I was 78 with less than an month’s illness. I also inherited a single property which I let at a market rent to help provide for my retirement. Does that make me deserving or undeserving? See what I mean about it not being simple?

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Oh come now. I have worked in two factories, painted houses, been a labourer. I am now a highly paid professional. It took 30 years of hard work to get from one to the other. I own my home but when we bought it we were terrified of the mortgage, we had tenants we didn’t really want for 15 years to help pay that mortgage. The house had been a rooming home for hippies in the 70’s so it wasn’t a real treat. Now it looks great – but we waited 20 years to save the money to fix it up. Most people are neither victims nor villains and very few people are just handed wealth.

Last edited 11 months ago by Peter Johnson
James Stangl
James Stangl
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Are you implying that landlords earn money by “sitting on assets?” I don’t discount the existence of slumlords, but most folks that I’ve known in the States who own rental properties work to make sure that they are kept up, and work more when tenants occasionally trash them. They certainly delegate some phyiscal work to maintenance workers, but they’re ultimately responsible for those properties. And they enjoy all the headaches of ownership, plus those of government regulations and rent controls in many areas.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Yes but realistically, on balance – who deserves their money more? Those who work for it, or those who get it by sitting on assets? As Bertrand Russell once said:
‘Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.’
Get a job at your local tesco as a shelf stacker and see that difference for yourself.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago

The left likes to sort people neatly into victim/victimised categories:
Workers good, bosses bad.
Tenants good, landlords bad.
Labour good, Tories unspeakable.
Some of us believe that life is not that simple.

Last edited 11 months ago by Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago

Do people really believe that all was well with public housing before Margaret Thatcher sold off the estates? Have they forgotten the dreary working class ghettos; row upon row of flats and houses built like prison officers’ quarters where you couldn’t even choose the colour of your own front door; the ‘problem families’ rehoused next door by Social Services,; the interminable waiting lists (5, 6, 7 years), often queue-jumped by unmarried mothers who knew that getting pregnant was the passport to their own home? Have they forgotten how some of these estates (and the lives of the people who lived there) were transformed by Thatcher’s policies?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

People remember not having to hand over well over half their weeks wages for a rundown rental though, and when a single average wage was enough to raise a family and buy a basic family home.
Also rough estates still exist, they may have been pushed to different areas of the city but are you suggesting that Thatcher selling off the council houses somehow caused rundown crime ridden estates to be consigned to the history books?

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Two things have changed – a huge (threefold?) increase in housing costs in real terms; and a coddled youth who can’t believe everything is not up to the standard that mum and dad supply, reflecting their great importance (now some 80% of young people agree with the statement, ‘I am special’, up from 20% a couple of decades ago).

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I believed I was special until I was about 70. Then I realised that I was completely nondescript and relatively unimportant in the great scheme of things. No a bad lesson, but learned too late.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

We are all unique and ordinary at the same time.

Shale Lewis
Shale Lewis
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

“Completely Nondescript” was my nickname in school!

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

We are all unique and ordinary at the same time.

Shale Lewis
Shale Lewis
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

“Completely Nondescript” was my nickname in school!

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
11 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Your confused, when you say coddling you mean emotionally neglected. Our parents weren’t good parents, they didn’t give us values, they left it up to us, and amongst such confusion it’s very clear that raising your self Importance is a grand strategy for not killing yourself or making something out of the kind of hole that you are in.

Moreover amongst this neglect of late 20th century parents they didn’t necessarily dedicate their lives to finding us the best education (or any education past the local state), they didn’t plan on how we could save for a house, they didn’t explain the necessity of a loving AND practical marriage etc. etc.

The point is they neglected us by making us weak but didn’t support us thereafter and we had to grow up in our twenties when it should of occurred in our teens. Clearly you can’t blame children for having neglectful, apathetic or absent minded parents.

And if you don’t believe me, a common comment by my mother is that I wasn’t breastfed as a child because I was ‘bitey’. Sure, I was a hungry bitey little baby, but guess who she blames for immediately stopping breastfeeding at few weeks old? Me of course. And it isn’t a joke unfortunately. My now mother in law is aghast when she hears this and she was born in the third world… So who is the real problem?

Boomers just can’t accept their failures and their flaws have to be corrected by their children on the MAX setting.

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago

No I am not confused. To better understand my point you could read, ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ by Jonathan Haidt. Yours is a quite different story, not typical I think of any particular generation, but all too frequent nonetheless.

J Miles
J Miles
11 months ago

Just because you have a sob story does not mean every boomer is to blame.

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago

No I am not confused. To better understand my point you could read, ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ by Jonathan Haidt. Yours is a quite different story, not typical I think of any particular generation, but all too frequent nonetheless.

J Miles
J Miles
11 months ago

Just because you have a sob story does not mean every boomer is to blame.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I believed I was special until I was about 70. Then I realised that I was completely nondescript and relatively unimportant in the great scheme of things. No a bad lesson, but learned too late.

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
11 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Your confused, when you say coddling you mean emotionally neglected. Our parents weren’t good parents, they didn’t give us values, they left it up to us, and amongst such confusion it’s very clear that raising your self Importance is a grand strategy for not killing yourself or making something out of the kind of hole that you are in.

Moreover amongst this neglect of late 20th century parents they didn’t necessarily dedicate their lives to finding us the best education (or any education past the local state), they didn’t plan on how we could save for a house, they didn’t explain the necessity of a loving AND practical marriage etc. etc.

The point is they neglected us by making us weak but didn’t support us thereafter and we had to grow up in our twenties when it should of occurred in our teens. Clearly you can’t blame children for having neglectful, apathetic or absent minded parents.

And if you don’t believe me, a common comment by my mother is that I wasn’t breastfed as a child because I was ‘bitey’. Sure, I was a hungry bitey little baby, but guess who she blames for immediately stopping breastfeeding at few weeks old? Me of course. And it isn’t a joke unfortunately. My now mother in law is aghast when she hears this and she was born in the third world… So who is the real problem?

Boomers just can’t accept their failures and their flaws have to be corrected by their children on the MAX setting.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

I remember

Andy Iddon
Andy Iddon
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

It was better then it was made less good by the adoption of “greatest need” as the basis of allocation. Remember East London in the 90s and the death of the housing list because immigrants had “greater need”. It was all just class war against the threat the British working class posed to the wealthy.

The dispossession of a nation, and the conversion from nation to state.

Last edited 11 months ago by Andy Iddon
Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

I remember Luton prefabs for sure! Yes it was rather grim.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

People remember not having to hand over well over half their weeks wages for a rundown rental though, and when a single average wage was enough to raise a family and buy a basic family home.
Also rough estates still exist, they may have been pushed to different areas of the city but are you suggesting that Thatcher selling off the council houses somehow caused rundown crime ridden estates to be consigned to the history books?

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Two things have changed – a huge (threefold?) increase in housing costs in real terms; and a coddled youth who can’t believe everything is not up to the standard that mum and dad supply, reflecting their great importance (now some 80% of young people agree with the statement, ‘I am special’, up from 20% a couple of decades ago).

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

I remember

Andy Iddon
Andy Iddon
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

It was better then it was made less good by the adoption of “greatest need” as the basis of allocation. Remember East London in the 90s and the death of the housing list because immigrants had “greater need”. It was all just class war against the threat the British working class posed to the wealthy.

The dispossession of a nation, and the conversion from nation to state.

Last edited 11 months ago by Andy Iddon
Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

I remember Luton prefabs for sure! Yes it was rather grim.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago

Do people really believe that all was well with public housing before Margaret Thatcher sold off the estates? Have they forgotten the dreary working class ghettos; row upon row of flats and houses built like prison officers’ quarters where you couldn’t even choose the colour of your own front door; the ‘problem families’ rehoused next door by Social Services,; the interminable waiting lists (5, 6, 7 years), often queue-jumped by unmarried mothers who knew that getting pregnant was the passport to their own home? Have they forgotten how some of these estates (and the lives of the people who lived there) were transformed by Thatcher’s policies?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
11 months ago

I rented my 3 bed duplex for 15% below the going rate to a couple with a baby that no one else would rent to.. they vacated at their own behest 4 years later. In that time I refloored the dining room (carpet ruined by baby puke) and carried out every other repair promptly. I never increased the rent by a penny. Some of us landlords are driven by our Christian principles and not by greed.. I’m no saint, far from it, but neither am I a monster. I would expect every other landlord worthy of the title Christian (or Buddhist or Muslim) to do no less. Then I guess I’m old with old fashioned ideas..

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Are you looking for praise for getting somebody financially much worse off than yourself to pay your second mortgage?

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

He’s adding nuance as a counterweight to trite, splitting, identity politics viz – two legs (landlords) bad; four legs (renters) good.

James Stangl
James Stangl
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

My wife and I are doing very similar as Liam to help an immigrant family. And we’re not looking to make a profit.

And how do you think mortgages and expenses on rentals are covered? The Magic Money Tree?

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

He’s adding nuance as a counterweight to trite, splitting, identity politics viz – two legs (landlords) bad; four legs (renters) good.

James Stangl
James Stangl
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

My wife and I are doing very similar as Liam to help an immigrant family. And we’re not looking to make a profit.

And how do you think mortgages and expenses on rentals are covered? The Magic Money Tree?

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
11 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Like Liam I rented my home (being posted abroad by my employer). I ensured that the house was always well maintained. Over the years I had four tenants, one of whom absconded owing me rent and having cost me a sizeable sum to treat the flea infestation. The others were excellent tenants and I was always on good terms with all of them. I did not use an agency!
Alll repairs and maintenance was done promptly and once a tenant signed the rent was never increased. I have rented previously, many years ago and was treated fairly. BTW, I’m an atheist!
I sold the house two years ago when I decided to remain abroad.
We are not all the selfish horrors that Nick Harris would have us believe.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
11 months ago

The problem is not enough is done to punish the really bad ones so all landlords get a bad name.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
11 months ago

The problem is not enough is done to punish the really bad ones so all landlords get a bad name.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
11 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Yes, it’s important not to tar us all with the same brush. I have rented out a small apartment in order to finance my pension. I therefore have a real interest in letting it to someone who is dependable and likely to stay. If a tenant were to trash the place incurring huge clean-up costs or were to stop paying the rent, I would soon find myself in serious difficulties. I am not a monster.

rob drummond
rob drummond
11 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

In my experience the vast majority of landlords behave in a very similar manner to your goodself.

Its a shame ‘Bash Rich Landlords’ is the only mantra what is acceptable in police society now.

When people ask me what I do for a job, I reply (without any irony) ”Oh! I am a Rouge Landlord” – I continue ‘because thats the only way I hear Landlords being described as these days”.

Its not true of course – at the start of COVID (as an example) I sent each of my tenants a Fortnum &M hamper with my best wishes and a contact number where there was a looming financial problem – with the polite note ”please do not skip the rent – as it will only pile up” (I still had service costs, repairs, agents and mortgages to pay).

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
11 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

My friends have two rental properties and they always try to give back 100% of the deposit and go in afterwards and clean from top to bottom and redecorate themselves. There are some good landlords out there. It is the slum landlords who are the problem. It should be easier to ban them from renting out their horrible substandard properties.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Are you looking for praise for getting somebody financially much worse off than yourself to pay your second mortgage?

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
11 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Like Liam I rented my home (being posted abroad by my employer). I ensured that the house was always well maintained. Over the years I had four tenants, one of whom absconded owing me rent and having cost me a sizeable sum to treat the flea infestation. The others were excellent tenants and I was always on good terms with all of them. I did not use an agency!
Alll repairs and maintenance was done promptly and once a tenant signed the rent was never increased. I have rented previously, many years ago and was treated fairly. BTW, I’m an atheist!
I sold the house two years ago when I decided to remain abroad.
We are not all the selfish horrors that Nick Harris would have us believe.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
11 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Yes, it’s important not to tar us all with the same brush. I have rented out a small apartment in order to finance my pension. I therefore have a real interest in letting it to someone who is dependable and likely to stay. If a tenant were to trash the place incurring huge clean-up costs or were to stop paying the rent, I would soon find myself in serious difficulties. I am not a monster.

rob drummond
rob drummond
11 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

In my experience the vast majority of landlords behave in a very similar manner to your goodself.

Its a shame ‘Bash Rich Landlords’ is the only mantra what is acceptable in police society now.

When people ask me what I do for a job, I reply (without any irony) ”Oh! I am a Rouge Landlord” – I continue ‘because thats the only way I hear Landlords being described as these days”.

Its not true of course – at the start of COVID (as an example) I sent each of my tenants a Fortnum &M hamper with my best wishes and a contact number where there was a looming financial problem – with the polite note ”please do not skip the rent – as it will only pile up” (I still had service costs, repairs, agents and mortgages to pay).

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
11 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

My friends have two rental properties and they always try to give back 100% of the deposit and go in afterwards and clean from top to bottom and redecorate themselves. There are some good landlords out there. It is the slum landlords who are the problem. It should be easier to ban them from renting out their horrible substandard properties.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
11 months ago

I rented my 3 bed duplex for 15% below the going rate to a couple with a baby that no one else would rent to.. they vacated at their own behest 4 years later. In that time I refloored the dining room (carpet ruined by baby puke) and carried out every other repair promptly. I never increased the rent by a penny. Some of us landlords are driven by our Christian principles and not by greed.. I’m no saint, far from it, but neither am I a monster. I would expect every other landlord worthy of the title Christian (or Buddhist or Muslim) to do no less. Then I guess I’m old with old fashioned ideas..

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago

I scanned the article for any mention of supply and demand. There was none.
You would imagine that at this point the question “why ?” would be asked:
“Since the turn of the millennium, the number of private renters has doubled to 11 million people. And this growth has been driven by the young.”
But no.
Young people – with whom I have much sympathy here – have only themselves to blame if they fail to recognise and try to address the real reasons for expensive and low quality housing. Namely mass immigration with people ready and willing to accept sub-standard accomodation (by our quite reasonable standards) and a complete failure by government and local authorities to enforce these standards.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Not so – high demand from the super-rich and lack of regulation from the government is also key. There are more houses than households after all. That wouldn’t be the case if poor immigrants were the only people putting pressure on prices.

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I very much doubt your assertion as being anything more than a second order effect. Please provide some evidence for it.
Certainly, the price of money (low interest rates) is a far more serious factor in the cost of housing. So is actual demand. Speculation far less so.
What exactly is it that the government can – and should – regulate here ?
I would argue that planning is over-regulated and far too restrictive and that government is not properly taxing land – in particular the development uplift windfall gains made by landowners.
But you’re asking for more regulation. On what ?

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

We’ve had some agreement in the past on the good sense of land tax, and I’d see that as part of what I see as a greater need for more active government in house building. I don’t buy your assumption that speculation is not actual demand – developers know they can make more money building luxury flats than affordable ones, and that wealthy elite wanting second homes are part of that demand. I don’t agree that more deregulation is the answer – the planning system has been streamlined to the point that 9/10 planning applications are now approved and it has made small difference to building output. The effect of immigration I’m less sure of, but I naturally regard with suspicion the invocations of media outlets (which, like unherd, are often owned by billionaires) for us to blame immigration first and foremost. Numbers should be lower I agree, but I’d be in favour of first taking measures that conflict with the interests of landowners before those of immigrants (who after all, for any of their unintended negative effects on wage growth, do actually come here to work and add to the economy, unlike landlords and landowners who suck up our wealth).
And if you want more details here is a thesis I wrote on the housing crisis back in 2019. Admittedly it reads more as an introductory pamphlet than a serious academic study, but I still stand by it’s diagnosis and suggested solutions.
https://dw.convertfiles.com/files/0235890001686142935/housing%20crisis%20thesis%20final%20draft%20.doc.pdf

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Thanks.
I agree that speculation is demand. No dispute there. I think it’s a second rather than first order effect though. I’m no great fan of speculation in general, though it does play an essential part in financial market liquidity and efficient pricing – but I’m not convinced that’s of any benefit in the housing market.
The current planning system is making building land far too expensive. The vast majority of housing cost is now land cost. Without lowering land costs, you won’t reduce the price of new build housing significantly.
Your assumption that all immigrants come here to work and add to the economy is not correct. Some do. Some don’t.
Personally, if there is ever a choice to be made, I rank the interests of exisiting citizens and taxpayers over those of people who want to come to this country and have contributed nothing yet. Once they are settled, integrated and contributing, I make no distinction. Non-contributory welfare (rights without and responsibilities) is a very poor way to operate in my book.
No fan of landlords. However at least some of them do provide a necessary service which people are prepared to pay for. Nothing wrong with that. It’s not really any different than providing any other service, for instance insurance.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Well serendiptidously much of what you said agrees with my thesis – land value capture was the key recommendation, which I suppose doesn’t classify straightforwardly as either more or less regulation since it could involve either a shift to zoing (i.e. less regular (but more widespread) state intervention in where houses can be built) or government capture of land price raises following the granting of case by case by planning permissions. Either way, it sounds like you’re not wholly opposed to more a more active state in this area. And being an evidence guided man, I imagine you won’t have any objections to the sheer financial sense of more social housing, which pays for itself as you know.
Again, I never assumed that all immigrants do come here to work (you’re pointing out the expected nuance that is true of any general trend or statement, just as you did wit my comment about the productivity gap, pointing out that not all sectors are lagging behind our European counterparts – well obviously, it would be truly remarkable of all of them were!) Saying that ‘some do, some don’t’ is platitudinous cover for the fact that you don’t want to admit that generally (see link below) people come here not to scrounge. Most people, work by the think tank Autonomy as researched this, have a need to work to feel a sense of dignity – the myth that humanity is riddled with wastrels is a myth cooked up by much of our media intent on turning working people against each other.
https://smithstonewalters.com/2023/03/02/immigration-in-numbers-2022-statistics-revealed/

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Well serendiptidously much of what you said agrees with my thesis – land value capture was the key recommendation, which I suppose doesn’t classify straightforwardly as either more or less regulation since it could involve either a shift to zoing (i.e. less regular (but more widespread) state intervention in where houses can be built) or government capture of land price raises following the granting of case by case by planning permissions. Either way, it sounds like you’re not wholly opposed to more a more active state in this area. And being an evidence guided man, I imagine you won’t have any objections to the sheer financial sense of more social housing, which pays for itself as you know.
Again, I never assumed that all immigrants do come here to work (you’re pointing out the expected nuance that is true of any general trend or statement, just as you did wit my comment about the productivity gap, pointing out that not all sectors are lagging behind our European counterparts – well obviously, it would be truly remarkable of all of them were!) Saying that ‘some do, some don’t’ is platitudinous cover for the fact that you don’t want to admit that generally (see link below) people come here not to scrounge. Most people, work by the think tank Autonomy as researched this, have a need to work to feel a sense of dignity – the myth that humanity is riddled with wastrels is a myth cooked up by much of our media intent on turning working people against each other.
https://smithstonewalters.com/2023/03/02/immigration-in-numbers-2022-statistics-revealed/

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Thanks.
I agree that speculation is demand. No dispute there. I think it’s a second rather than first order effect though. I’m no great fan of speculation in general, though it does play an essential part in financial market liquidity and efficient pricing – but I’m not convinced that’s of any benefit in the housing market.
The current planning system is making building land far too expensive. The vast majority of housing cost is now land cost. Without lowering land costs, you won’t reduce the price of new build housing significantly.
Your assumption that all immigrants come here to work and add to the economy is not correct. Some do. Some don’t.
Personally, if there is ever a choice to be made, I rank the interests of exisiting citizens and taxpayers over those of people who want to come to this country and have contributed nothing yet. Once they are settled, integrated and contributing, I make no distinction. Non-contributory welfare (rights without and responsibilities) is a very poor way to operate in my book.
No fan of landlords. However at least some of them do provide a necessary service which people are prepared to pay for. Nothing wrong with that. It’s not really any different than providing any other service, for instance insurance.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Agreed, decades of low interest rates, even negative real interest rates have allowed those who can afford a deposit to push prices up

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

We’ve had some agreement in the past on the good sense of land tax, and I’d see that as part of what I see as a greater need for more active government in house building. I don’t buy your assumption that speculation is not actual demand – developers know they can make more money building luxury flats than affordable ones, and that wealthy elite wanting second homes are part of that demand. I don’t agree that more deregulation is the answer – the planning system has been streamlined to the point that 9/10 planning applications are now approved and it has made small difference to building output. The effect of immigration I’m less sure of, but I naturally regard with suspicion the invocations of media outlets (which, like unherd, are often owned by billionaires) for us to blame immigration first and foremost. Numbers should be lower I agree, but I’d be in favour of first taking measures that conflict with the interests of landowners before those of immigrants (who after all, for any of their unintended negative effects on wage growth, do actually come here to work and add to the economy, unlike landlords and landowners who suck up our wealth).
And if you want more details here is a thesis I wrote on the housing crisis back in 2019. Admittedly it reads more as an introductory pamphlet than a serious academic study, but I still stand by it’s diagnosis and suggested solutions.
https://dw.convertfiles.com/files/0235890001686142935/housing%20crisis%20thesis%20final%20draft%20.doc.pdf

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Agreed, decades of low interest rates, even negative real interest rates have allowed those who can afford a deposit to push prices up

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I very much doubt your assertion as being anything more than a second order effect. Please provide some evidence for it.
Certainly, the price of money (low interest rates) is a far more serious factor in the cost of housing. So is actual demand. Speculation far less so.
What exactly is it that the government can – and should – regulate here ?
I would argue that planning is over-regulated and far too restrictive and that government is not properly taxing land – in particular the development uplift windfall gains made by landowners.
But you’re asking for more regulation. On what ?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

So what are the youngsters supposed to do? Which party has said they’ll reduce these numbers?

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Firstly, understand the hard facts of the situation and start telling the truth. They are currently asking for policies which destroy their own futures. Secondly demand lower immigration. Thirdly, start studying serious subjects to fill actual labour shortages rather than “luxury subjects”. Fourthly, don’t regard living on welfare as an option.
If all the above fails, emigrate.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

With you on the last bit of advice. I’ve emigrated to the Netherlands where stronger trade unions, renters’ rights, rent controls, and a greater social housing stock mean my rent here is 3x less than it would be in London.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

With you on the last bit of advice. I’ve emigrated to the Netherlands where stronger trade unions, renters’ rights, rent controls, and a greater social housing stock mean my rent here is 3x less than it would be in London.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Well when it comes to this problem of housing, luckily they don’t need to worry too much about which party is promising to do most about immigration because immigration is only a part of this problem, while the rest of it is to do with a state that is not active enough in house building and in regulating our current stock, as well as a party (no guesses which one) which is in thrall to landed interests (as Roger Scruton himsef told Douglas Murray in his Spectator interview on the future of conservatism – of course Murray, afraid to upset those who pay for his platform, swiftly changed the subject).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu5T3sWAg0w&t=1440s

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Firstly, understand the hard facts of the situation and start telling the truth. They are currently asking for policies which destroy their own futures. Secondly demand lower immigration. Thirdly, start studying serious subjects to fill actual labour shortages rather than “luxury subjects”. Fourthly, don’t regard living on welfare as an option.
If all the above fails, emigrate.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Well when it comes to this problem of housing, luckily they don’t need to worry too much about which party is promising to do most about immigration because immigration is only a part of this problem, while the rest of it is to do with a state that is not active enough in house building and in regulating our current stock, as well as a party (no guesses which one) which is in thrall to landed interests (as Roger Scruton himsef told Douglas Murray in his Spectator interview on the future of conservatism – of course Murray, afraid to upset those who pay for his platform, swiftly changed the subject).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu5T3sWAg0w&t=1440s

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Exactly! It is too easy for the bad landlords to get away with it.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Not so – high demand from the super-rich and lack of regulation from the government is also key. There are more houses than households after all. That wouldn’t be the case if poor immigrants were the only people putting pressure on prices.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

So what are the youngsters supposed to do? Which party has said they’ll reduce these numbers?

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Exactly! It is too easy for the bad landlords to get away with it.

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago

I scanned the article for any mention of supply and demand. There was none.
You would imagine that at this point the question “why ?” would be asked:
“Since the turn of the millennium, the number of private renters has doubled to 11 million people. And this growth has been driven by the young.”
But no.
Young people – with whom I have much sympathy here – have only themselves to blame if they fail to recognise and try to address the real reasons for expensive and low quality housing. Namely mass immigration with people ready and willing to accept sub-standard accomodation (by our quite reasonable standards) and a complete failure by government and local authorities to enforce these standards.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
11 months ago

Another millennial writer bemoaning the housing crisis yet refusing to cite the million-plus people arriving in the UK every year on below-median wage. Who will require a roof over their heads.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
11 months ago

Another millennial writer bemoaning the housing crisis yet refusing to cite the million-plus people arriving in the UK every year on below-median wage. Who will require a roof over their heads.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
11 months ago

I’m a Millennial, and by contrast, I seem to have been quite lucky with my landlords. My last one in particular before my wife and I bought a house was extremely good. Our main issues were usually with the agencies who were often indifferent to any issues with the property. I did hear plenty of horror stories though from friends, colleagues, acquaintances etc though.

However, it is undeniable that housing has become an asset bubble in recent decades, and it is the Baby-Boomers who have benefited from this. This isn’t the main gripe of Millennials in of itself, but that in many cases, Boomers seem to have pulled up the ladder behind them, denying younger generations the same opportunities they got to enjoy. As others have and will point out, mass migration is a huge problem here (and even most Millennials are opposed to current levels based on polling I’ve seen), but NIMBY’s cannot be ignored in the damage they do. The frustrating thing is that many of them are our parents, aunts and uncles. I have absolutely no time for older homeowners who bemoan the inability of their children to get on the housing ladder while simultaneously e-mailing the council to file absurd planning objections for a new development 5 minutes down the road. People who do this are effectively attacking their children.

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

All true and I agree with that.
But you fail to acknowledge the demand side from massive immigration. It’s not only supply. There’s also the cheap money (decades of suppressed interest rates).

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I do acknowledge it in another comment on here in fairness, but yes, can’t be ignored.

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

Apologies. I hadn’t properly read your comments.
Absolutely agree about the NIMBYs. I’d rather have lower house prices so my son and people of his generation can aspire to owning their own house without needing to be lucky in having rich parents. People need to be able to prosper based on their own efforts. We’ve gone horribly wrong in allowing this situation to develop. But it’s everywhere in the West now. Although Britain’s amongst the worst countries for housing affordability – and quite likely dead last for affordability vs quality and space.

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

Apologies. I hadn’t properly read your comments.
Absolutely agree about the NIMBYs. I’d rather have lower house prices so my son and people of his generation can aspire to owning their own house without needing to be lucky in having rich parents. People need to be able to prosper based on their own efforts. We’ve gone horribly wrong in allowing this situation to develop. But it’s everywhere in the West now. Although Britain’s amongst the worst countries for housing affordability – and quite likely dead last for affordability vs quality and space.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I do acknowledge it in another comment on here in fairness, but yes, can’t be ignored.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
11 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

You really couldn’t be more wrong. I’m 67, in the US, and I live on the income of 18 leases from hard-earned properties. I didn’t set out to do this – I’m a lawyer but found more autonomy and reward in the real estate business. And I have 3 millennial children whose futures I care about.
After 35 years of brokering and investing in a hot market – Austin, Texas – I can say that federal subsidy of housing to people who can’t really afford to buy or support a mortgage, combined with at least 3 strong foreclosure cycles, has put a massive amount of rental housing into the hands of huge portfolios like BlackRock. (Yes, immigration has put more demand for rental housing, but largely because the immigrants are willing to work hard whereas millennials are not so much. The immigrants are some of my tenants. They will also live where millennials will not.)
Developers have a pact with City governments that benefits them with the gimmick of “affordable housing” and now the millennials are falling for that one too. Blocks of high rise buildings are going up on transit corridors that used to be farmland not too long ago. The price of surrounding land goes sky high along with it. Millennials confuse a box of air with a home – detached from any ground or fresh air that they can really own.
As with education, insurance, healthcare, transportation whether by car or subway or rail, the commoditization of housing subsidized by 3rd party money – largely government money – has made the prices of these necessities skyrocket. The government, in all its humanity and trickery, bought naively, wholesale, by the 2 generations behind me, have put you where you are.

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

All true and I agree with that.
But you fail to acknowledge the demand side from massive immigration. It’s not only supply. There’s also the cheap money (decades of suppressed interest rates).

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
11 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

You really couldn’t be more wrong. I’m 67, in the US, and I live on the income of 18 leases from hard-earned properties. I didn’t set out to do this – I’m a lawyer but found more autonomy and reward in the real estate business. And I have 3 millennial children whose futures I care about.
After 35 years of brokering and investing in a hot market – Austin, Texas – I can say that federal subsidy of housing to people who can’t really afford to buy or support a mortgage, combined with at least 3 strong foreclosure cycles, has put a massive amount of rental housing into the hands of huge portfolios like BlackRock. (Yes, immigration has put more demand for rental housing, but largely because the immigrants are willing to work hard whereas millennials are not so much. The immigrants are some of my tenants. They will also live where millennials will not.)
Developers have a pact with City governments that benefits them with the gimmick of “affordable housing” and now the millennials are falling for that one too. Blocks of high rise buildings are going up on transit corridors that used to be farmland not too long ago. The price of surrounding land goes sky high along with it. Millennials confuse a box of air with a home – detached from any ground or fresh air that they can really own.
As with education, insurance, healthcare, transportation whether by car or subway or rail, the commoditization of housing subsidized by 3rd party money – largely government money – has made the prices of these necessities skyrocket. The government, in all its humanity and trickery, bought naively, wholesale, by the 2 generations behind me, have put you where you are.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
11 months ago

I’m a Millennial, and by contrast, I seem to have been quite lucky with my landlords. My last one in particular before my wife and I bought a house was extremely good. Our main issues were usually with the agencies who were often indifferent to any issues with the property. I did hear plenty of horror stories though from friends, colleagues, acquaintances etc though.

However, it is undeniable that housing has become an asset bubble in recent decades, and it is the Baby-Boomers who have benefited from this. This isn’t the main gripe of Millennials in of itself, but that in many cases, Boomers seem to have pulled up the ladder behind them, denying younger generations the same opportunities they got to enjoy. As others have and will point out, mass migration is a huge problem here (and even most Millennials are opposed to current levels based on polling I’ve seen), but NIMBY’s cannot be ignored in the damage they do. The frustrating thing is that many of them are our parents, aunts and uncles. I have absolutely no time for older homeowners who bemoan the inability of their children to get on the housing ladder while simultaneously e-mailing the council to file absurd planning objections for a new development 5 minutes down the road. People who do this are effectively attacking their children.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago

This article could be applied to The Netherlands at this time. As from next year the Dutch government will impose a hard rent cap of 1000 euros on all privately owned rentals regardless of location or desirability. Prices will be adjusted based on energy labels, space and condition. This sounds fair in theory, but for locations like Amsterdam there is no way that 1000 euros will cover the costs landlords pay to own and maintain their properties.
Not only that, but local councils are now making it illegal to own empty properties, so landlords cannot just let them sit. They must be occupied. Property taxes are also set to rise drastically next year.
In truth rather than lower rental prices, many landlords will be forced to sell as they will no longer be able to cover their property costs. As a result there will be less affordable rentals in the housing market.
The arrogant stupidity of the Dutch government is so mind-boggling that it has either become pathologically incompetent or this is all ideologically motivated. I suspect the latter but cannot rule out the former either, as these new measures will be imposed in the name of ‘housing justice’ and ‘spatial inequality’.
This is a big blow to people of my generation who for decades were told by the government not to rely on state pensions and to invest in property as a means to provide for our old age.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago

This article could be applied to The Netherlands at this time. As from next year the Dutch government will impose a hard rent cap of 1000 euros on all privately owned rentals regardless of location or desirability. Prices will be adjusted based on energy labels, space and condition. This sounds fair in theory, but for locations like Amsterdam there is no way that 1000 euros will cover the costs landlords pay to own and maintain their properties.
Not only that, but local councils are now making it illegal to own empty properties, so landlords cannot just let them sit. They must be occupied. Property taxes are also set to rise drastically next year.
In truth rather than lower rental prices, many landlords will be forced to sell as they will no longer be able to cover their property costs. As a result there will be less affordable rentals in the housing market.
The arrogant stupidity of the Dutch government is so mind-boggling that it has either become pathologically incompetent or this is all ideologically motivated. I suspect the latter but cannot rule out the former either, as these new measures will be imposed in the name of ‘housing justice’ and ‘spatial inequality’.
This is a big blow to people of my generation who for decades were told by the government not to rely on state pensions and to invest in property as a means to provide for our old age.

Lesley Keay
Lesley Keay
11 months ago

An issue which seems to always get overlooked in this debate is the fact that many housing associations/councils are really bad landlords. Lets not forget that the recent change in legislation aimed at tackling mould in rented in properties came about as the result of the death of a child who lived in social housing.I was shown pictures just yesterday from someone who lives in HA property, which has now maintenance done for 16 years. The mould on the ceilings was terrible. I also have an elderly disabled brother who lives in a ground floor flat who has had constant problems getting repairs done, including dealing with mould. During last winter the person in the top floor flat had rainwater coming through the ceiling and when he called the repair people he was told, and I quote” what do you expect us to do about it, we can’t stop the rain”.

Lesley Keay
Lesley Keay
11 months ago

An issue which seems to always get overlooked in this debate is the fact that many housing associations/councils are really bad landlords. Lets not forget that the recent change in legislation aimed at tackling mould in rented in properties came about as the result of the death of a child who lived in social housing.I was shown pictures just yesterday from someone who lives in HA property, which has now maintenance done for 16 years. The mould on the ceilings was terrible. I also have an elderly disabled brother who lives in a ground floor flat who has had constant problems getting repairs done, including dealing with mould. During last winter the person in the top floor flat had rainwater coming through the ceiling and when he called the repair people he was told, and I quote” what do you expect us to do about it, we can’t stop the rain”.

R Wright
R Wright
11 months ago

Ctrl + F ‘immigration’
0 results found

R Wright
R Wright
11 months ago

Ctrl + F ‘immigration’
0 results found

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
11 months ago

Finsbury Park – one of the trendiest areas of North London partly due to the great transport links. Why did the writer not look a litte further afield to somewhere like Stroud Green? Because you might have to walk for an extra mile to get to the tube or (heaven forfend) take a bus. Any young person looking to move to London should not live within the North Circular (being a north londoner myself I don’t pay much attention to what goes on south of the river) but should be as near a tube as possible. This is just practical advice that anyone from the capital can tell you.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
11 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Surely anywhere near the Tube will be subject to the same price inflation?

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
11 months ago

Technically maybe but the actual price you pay won’t be as much as you move further from the centre.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Jobs becoming ever more concentrated in our major cities where an increasing number of workers can’t afford to live is a tremendous drag on a nation’s productivity though.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Is it? Productivity in cities is much more than in towns/rural areas. It might not be good for the workers but gone are the days when companies provided houses for their workers.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Let’s bring those days back (or closer) and demand companies do more for their workers, like give them a proper living wage

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Let’s bring those days back (or closer) and demand companies do more for their workers, like give them a proper living wage

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Is it? Productivity in cities is much more than in towns/rural areas. It might not be good for the workers but gone are the days when companies provided houses for their workers.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Jobs becoming ever more concentrated in our major cities where an increasing number of workers can’t afford to live is a tremendous drag on a nation’s productivity though.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
11 months ago

Technically maybe but the actual price you pay won’t be as much as you move further from the centre.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
11 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Surely anywhere near the Tube will be subject to the same price inflation?

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
11 months ago

Finsbury Park – one of the trendiest areas of North London partly due to the great transport links. Why did the writer not look a litte further afield to somewhere like Stroud Green? Because you might have to walk for an extra mile to get to the tube or (heaven forfend) take a bus. Any young person looking to move to London should not live within the North Circular (being a north londoner myself I don’t pay much attention to what goes on south of the river) but should be as near a tube as possible. This is just practical advice that anyone from the capital can tell you.

JP Martin
JP Martin
11 months ago

Working citizens, like the author, are expected to pay an exorbitant rent to live in filth. Meanwhile, any indolent infiltrator gets comfortable accommodation at the taxpayers’ expense. It’s pathological.

rob drummond
rob drummond
11 months ago
Reply to  JP Martin

Quite So!

rob drummond
rob drummond
11 months ago
Reply to  JP Martin

Quite So!

JP Martin
JP Martin
11 months ago

Working citizens, like the author, are expected to pay an exorbitant rent to live in filth. Meanwhile, any indolent infiltrator gets comfortable accommodation at the taxpayers’ expense. It’s pathological.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
11 months ago

Such nonsense. Rich people invest in many things: housing, shares, stocks, wine, classic cars. Classic cars are in pretty static supply, and so the price tends to go up and up. But housing is only in limited supply because we have made it so, mainly through manipulation of the planning system. If we made it easy to build new housing, land prices and thus housing costs would fall, and the supply would increase.
More homes to buy, more homes to rent. Better homes to rent as well, because landlords would compete on quality to get better tenants and a little premium on the rent that better tenants would bring. But rents would have gone down from the increasingly monopolistic position that landlords are now in. Win win win for everybody, apart from the professional whingeing classes
The Conservative government of the 1980’s knew this and put the necessary reforms in place, by liberating the market. The quality of rented housing improved enormously – though many former tenants could now buy and thus both demand and supply of rented tended to decrease. But it was a startling successful policy.
Now we have a government (and an opposition, and a Bank of England) which seems to have no understanding of the most basic economics and to have read no history, so the market is going back to what it was in the pre 1979 years, and it will go on getting worse until somebody goes back to the Thatcher reforms and sorts it all out again.
Which is not to say there are no bad landlords. But there is legislation in place to compel landlords to provide rented housing that is safe and fit to live in. The local councils won’t enforce it, mostly, because, not least, they themselves own some of the worst housing stock.
All these problems are easy to solve, but somebody has to want to do it.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
11 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Yes, the writer (who is clearly well-educated and politically astute) seems oblivious to free markets and property rights. These are circles to be squared in what is clearly a failing system, but you can’t solve the problem without acknowledging the principles. Unless, of course, 30 and 40-somethings want to live in a planned economy. Hey, give it a go. It might work this time *chuckles*

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

The generation that benefitted enormously from the state building the homes the country needed, complaining about any form of state assistance for the generations that follow. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Um.. the planning system has been liberalised (9/10 planning permission requests are now permitted as of the last few years, with no rise in out builds, because – surprise surprise – an unregulated market serves demand not need e.g. property developers sit on land until they can sell it to the highest bidder). Other countries with more affordable housing have more regulation and more social housing stock. Time to get real and stop lazily relying on the ‘free’ market to solve problems in essential services where it has manifestly failed (trains, water, NHS etc)

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

The generation that benefitted enormously from the state building the homes the country needed, complaining about any form of state assistance for the generations that follow. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
11 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Um.. the planning system has been liberalised (9/10 planning permission requests are now permitted as of the last few years, with no rise in out builds, because – surprise surprise – an unregulated market serves demand not need e.g. property developers sit on land until they can sell it to the highest bidder). Other countries with more affordable housing have more regulation and more social housing stock. Time to get real and stop lazily relying on the ‘free’ market to solve problems in essential services where it has manifestly failed (trains, water, NHS etc)

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
11 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Yes, the writer (who is clearly well-educated and politically astute) seems oblivious to free markets and property rights. These are circles to be squared in what is clearly a failing system, but you can’t solve the problem without acknowledging the principles. Unless, of course, 30 and 40-somethings want to live in a planned economy. Hey, give it a go. It might work this time *chuckles*

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
11 months ago

Such nonsense. Rich people invest in many things: housing, shares, stocks, wine, classic cars. Classic cars are in pretty static supply, and so the price tends to go up and up. But housing is only in limited supply because we have made it so, mainly through manipulation of the planning system. If we made it easy to build new housing, land prices and thus housing costs would fall, and the supply would increase.
More homes to buy, more homes to rent. Better homes to rent as well, because landlords would compete on quality to get better tenants and a little premium on the rent that better tenants would bring. But rents would have gone down from the increasingly monopolistic position that landlords are now in. Win win win for everybody, apart from the professional whingeing classes
The Conservative government of the 1980’s knew this and put the necessary reforms in place, by liberating the market. The quality of rented housing improved enormously – though many former tenants could now buy and thus both demand and supply of rented tended to decrease. But it was a startling successful policy.
Now we have a government (and an opposition, and a Bank of England) which seems to have no understanding of the most basic economics and to have read no history, so the market is going back to what it was in the pre 1979 years, and it will go on getting worse until somebody goes back to the Thatcher reforms and sorts it all out again.
Which is not to say there are no bad landlords. But there is legislation in place to compel landlords to provide rented housing that is safe and fit to live in. The local councils won’t enforce it, mostly, because, not least, they themselves own some of the worst housing stock.
All these problems are easy to solve, but somebody has to want to do it.

Jeffrey Mushens
Jeffrey Mushens
11 months ago

The problem with high property prices and these relate to rents, as well, is the imbalance between supply and demand. Make it easier to build new houses, by cutting planning application times, reducing the scope judicial review and freeing up some greenbelt. Cut the cost of new housing – in Chelmsford, a developer has to pay a Community Infrastructure Levy of ÂŁ17.5k for a 90m2 house – 1,000 sqft semi – plus Building Regs and Building Control, and get an environmental assessment done, and separately apply to Essex Roads and do a Statement of Needs, all of which costs. All in it costs ÂŁ50k before a metaphorical spade is put in the ground. And Chelmsford is, by all accounts, pretty reasonable.
Then there’s the hidden increases by ratcheting up costs by revisions to Building Regs. Anecdote. A house in a road where I was collecting Christian Aid had been hit by lightning and the owners moved out while it was rebuilt. Big argument between insurers, council and owners, as if rebuilt on existing sq footage, the rooms would be smaller as building regs standards had changed so walls internal and external were thicker. If rebuilt with same size rooms, the building would be bigger. All sorted now, but those changes are reflected in new buildings costs.
For renters, the Government is requiring that rental properties from 2025 meet EPC C standards (current requirement is E). Upgrading to that requirement will cos between ÂŁ10k – Government claim – and ÂŁ50-70k – real world. Whatever happens renters will pay, but I suspect you’ll see a lot of rental properties withdrawn from the market with a consequent upwards shove to rents. Next, especially if Labour are elected, will be rent controls, with the complete wrecking of the rental market.
A better solution is to build lots more houses, easing planning restrictions, and make it easier to rent out property (I don’t let properties, thank you very much, I’ve got quite enough property exposure in my own home).
Controlling net immigration would also help. Where are the 600k immigrants going to live? At 4 per home, that’s 150,000 homes. At 2 per home that’s 300,000 homes – on top of domestic demand. And how much did we build last year?

Jeffrey Mushens
Jeffrey Mushens
11 months ago

The problem with high property prices and these relate to rents, as well, is the imbalance between supply and demand. Make it easier to build new houses, by cutting planning application times, reducing the scope judicial review and freeing up some greenbelt. Cut the cost of new housing – in Chelmsford, a developer has to pay a Community Infrastructure Levy of ÂŁ17.5k for a 90m2 house – 1,000 sqft semi – plus Building Regs and Building Control, and get an environmental assessment done, and separately apply to Essex Roads and do a Statement of Needs, all of which costs. All in it costs ÂŁ50k before a metaphorical spade is put in the ground. And Chelmsford is, by all accounts, pretty reasonable.
Then there’s the hidden increases by ratcheting up costs by revisions to Building Regs. Anecdote. A house in a road where I was collecting Christian Aid had been hit by lightning and the owners moved out while it was rebuilt. Big argument between insurers, council and owners, as if rebuilt on existing sq footage, the rooms would be smaller as building regs standards had changed so walls internal and external were thicker. If rebuilt with same size rooms, the building would be bigger. All sorted now, but those changes are reflected in new buildings costs.
For renters, the Government is requiring that rental properties from 2025 meet EPC C standards (current requirement is E). Upgrading to that requirement will cos between ÂŁ10k – Government claim – and ÂŁ50-70k – real world. Whatever happens renters will pay, but I suspect you’ll see a lot of rental properties withdrawn from the market with a consequent upwards shove to rents. Next, especially if Labour are elected, will be rent controls, with the complete wrecking of the rental market.
A better solution is to build lots more houses, easing planning restrictions, and make it easier to rent out property (I don’t let properties, thank you very much, I’ve got quite enough property exposure in my own home).
Controlling net immigration would also help. Where are the 600k immigrants going to live? At 4 per home, that’s 150,000 homes. At 2 per home that’s 300,000 homes – on top of domestic demand. And how much did we build last year?

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
11 months ago

I’m not sure if giving away all the council housing stock was intended to increase the number of owner occupiers (and thus likely Conservative voters) or if it was another case of turning publicly owned assets into investment vehicles over the longer term. But the pigeons (or is it chickens?) have certainly come home to roost. What could be more conservative than wishing for a decent home to settle in and securely bring up a family? I only hope that Millennial Rage does serious and lasting damage to the Conservative OCG at the next general election.

David Lye
David Lye
11 months ago

Quite. This has been coming for many years. It is surprising that the Conservatives either haven’t seen it, or have seen it, and decided to ignore it. Good article, by the way…

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
11 months ago
Reply to  David Lye

I agree. A triple tsunami has been rolling toward us since Thatcher and Blair first wiped out social housing replacement; then EU 6m free movers piled in unplanned; but the third and biggest shock was the era of zero interest rates from 2008. It allowed older boomers to secure & bank million pound capital gains as their mortgages were paid off easy. But the next generation – the sorry millennials – were sucked Golem like into the market in the belief that property prices only ever rose; and that a 1% mortgage was the new permanent normal. Its these naive buyers who are set to suffer terribly as much as those enduring rats and damp in overpriced rentals.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
11 months ago
Reply to  David Lye

I agree. A triple tsunami has been rolling toward us since Thatcher and Blair first wiped out social housing replacement; then EU 6m free movers piled in unplanned; but the third and biggest shock was the era of zero interest rates from 2008. It allowed older boomers to secure & bank million pound capital gains as their mortgages were paid off easy. But the next generation – the sorry millennials – were sucked Golem like into the market in the belief that property prices only ever rose; and that a 1% mortgage was the new permanent normal. Its these naive buyers who are set to suffer terribly as much as those enduring rats and damp in overpriced rentals.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
11 months ago

Privatisation is less often “giving away assets” than “giving away debts” and in the case of many council estates, the money wasn’t there to make the improvements needed that the new individual owners then carried out themselves.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
11 months ago

I wouldn’t suggest you’re entirely wrong about that, but in my direct personal experience (my work took me into many ex-council properties) the council houses that were purchased were well looked after by the tenants already (almost by definition) and they were greatly improved after purchase by the new owners.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
11 months ago

Yes, I agree with that, from observation and personal experience. As in living there, not “my work took me into”.
But, beyond keeping things clean and tidy, the good tenants were not able to make the desired improvements while they were tenants, only when they became owners.

Last edited 11 months ago by Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
11 months ago

Yes, I agree with that, from observation and personal experience. As in living there, not “my work took me into”.
But, beyond keeping things clean and tidy, the good tenants were not able to make the desired improvements while they were tenants, only when they became owners.

Last edited 11 months ago by Brendan O'Leary
Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
11 months ago

I wouldn’t suggest you’re entirely wrong about that, but in my direct personal experience (my work took me into many ex-council properties) the council houses that were purchased were well looked after by the tenants already (almost by definition) and they were greatly improved after purchase by the new owners.

David Lye
David Lye
11 months ago

Quite. This has been coming for many years. It is surprising that the Conservatives either haven’t seen it, or have seen it, and decided to ignore it. Good article, by the way…

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
11 months ago

Privatisation is less often “giving away assets” than “giving away debts” and in the case of many council estates, the money wasn’t there to make the improvements needed that the new individual owners then carried out themselves.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
11 months ago

I’m not sure if giving away all the council housing stock was intended to increase the number of owner occupiers (and thus likely Conservative voters) or if it was another case of turning publicly owned assets into investment vehicles over the longer term. But the pigeons (or is it chickens?) have certainly come home to roost. What could be more conservative than wishing for a decent home to settle in and securely bring up a family? I only hope that Millennial Rage does serious and lasting damage to the Conservative OCG at the next general election.

Janet G
Janet G
11 months ago

A few factors in Australia:
More huge houses with fewer people living in each one.
Air b and b
Foreign investors who buy apartment blocks and leave them empty, I suppose hoping for a profit on eventual resale.
Governments that privatise everything and believe something called “the market” will sort it all out.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Janet G

Same issues in NZ. The ratio of dwellings per capita is largely unchanged from 40 years ago, however house prices have risen from 3.5x the median salary to almost 13x now.

rob drummond
rob drummond
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Same in UK no doubt

rob drummond
rob drummond
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Same in UK no doubt

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Janet G

Same issues in NZ. The ratio of dwellings per capita is largely unchanged from 40 years ago, however house prices have risen from 3.5x the median salary to almost 13x now.

Janet G
Janet G
11 months ago

A few factors in Australia:
More huge houses with fewer people living in each one.
Air b and b
Foreign investors who buy apartment blocks and leave them empty, I suppose hoping for a profit on eventual resale.
Governments that privatise everything and believe something called “the market” will sort it all out.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago

Peter RACHMAN* anybody?

(* 1919-1962.)

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago

..

Last edited 11 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago

..

Last edited 11 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago

Peter RACHMAN* anybody?

(* 1919-1962.)

John Hilton-O’Brien
John Hilton-O’Brien
11 months ago

Economics and tax policy are a big part of the problem.

It costs money to build apartment buildings. Massive, whacking gobs of it, like you would not believe. The people doing the building do not have this capital: they must borrow it, at high rates of interest. This cost of capital means that the longer it is before resolution, the higher the cost of capital.

To build and rent out an apartment building requires you to keep this capital perpetually. If you consider a company that wants to build apartment buildings and rent them out, this means that the high cost of capital comes out of any profits made, perpetually. This not only raises rents, but it is not competitive with the other building strategy.

By contrast, if you build an apartment building as a condominium, you can sell the apartments *even before you finish building them*. This vastly reduces the cost of capital. You can even get private investors on board for this: they know how and when their money is coming back to them, and there is no chance they will be stuck running an apartment they don’t know how to deal with. The same is true of building single family homes.

This is the reason why our new developments are full of houses, and actually new aparment buildings are scarce.

In Canada, most of our apartment buildings were built 60’s to 80’s using a financial vehicle called a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). Simply put, we recognized the burden that building apartments put on deal-makers and private capital, and gave it tax advantages. The result was a massive building of retail stock that the government did not have to finance. Because of the corporate tax structure, it was difficult to remove those investments once made.

Sadly, Canada was governed from the 90s by people who did not understand this history. They removed the tax protections of REITs. New apartment buildings are now scarce. Rentals are now small capitalists (usually retired people) cobbling together a house or two. And many of those are being taken off the market as AirBnBs instead.

In addition, a wave of NIMBY city councils removed the single-room occupancy hotels (SROs) and boarding houses of the 1900s and 1930’s homelessness responses, which means that there are many fewer cheap ways to get off the street. Instead of the former system that housed the poor at private expense, we now pay for housing with public money and an increased marginal tax rate.

We also pay in misery. I worked some years at the Calgary Drop-In Centre: whenever the City closed an SRO or rezoned an area that had boarding houses, the shelter population grew -around 1200 when I was last there, sometime sleeping on its internal staircases. Tents are often now seen in front.

The story is similar elsewhere. While immigration is a massive issue, it would be mitigated with a better vision of how capital, tax, and other policies affect housing, from the hobo jungle to the penthouse.

John Hilton-O’Brien
John Hilton-O’Brien
11 months ago

Economics and tax policy are a big part of the problem.

It costs money to build apartment buildings. Massive, whacking gobs of it, like you would not believe. The people doing the building do not have this capital: they must borrow it, at high rates of interest. This cost of capital means that the longer it is before resolution, the higher the cost of capital.

To build and rent out an apartment building requires you to keep this capital perpetually. If you consider a company that wants to build apartment buildings and rent them out, this means that the high cost of capital comes out of any profits made, perpetually. This not only raises rents, but it is not competitive with the other building strategy.

By contrast, if you build an apartment building as a condominium, you can sell the apartments *even before you finish building them*. This vastly reduces the cost of capital. You can even get private investors on board for this: they know how and when their money is coming back to them, and there is no chance they will be stuck running an apartment they don’t know how to deal with. The same is true of building single family homes.

This is the reason why our new developments are full of houses, and actually new aparment buildings are scarce.

In Canada, most of our apartment buildings were built 60’s to 80’s using a financial vehicle called a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). Simply put, we recognized the burden that building apartments put on deal-makers and private capital, and gave it tax advantages. The result was a massive building of retail stock that the government did not have to finance. Because of the corporate tax structure, it was difficult to remove those investments once made.

Sadly, Canada was governed from the 90s by people who did not understand this history. They removed the tax protections of REITs. New apartment buildings are now scarce. Rentals are now small capitalists (usually retired people) cobbling together a house or two. And many of those are being taken off the market as AirBnBs instead.

In addition, a wave of NIMBY city councils removed the single-room occupancy hotels (SROs) and boarding houses of the 1900s and 1930’s homelessness responses, which means that there are many fewer cheap ways to get off the street. Instead of the former system that housed the poor at private expense, we now pay for housing with public money and an increased marginal tax rate.

We also pay in misery. I worked some years at the Calgary Drop-In Centre: whenever the City closed an SRO or rezoned an area that had boarding houses, the shelter population grew -around 1200 when I was last there, sometime sleeping on its internal staircases. Tents are often now seen in front.

The story is similar elsewhere. While immigration is a massive issue, it would be mitigated with a better vision of how capital, tax, and other policies affect housing, from the hobo jungle to the penthouse.

David Giles
David Giles
11 months ago

I’m a mug. I’m a mug because I’m not being paid to write this comment, but some other mug of an an editor paid a moron called Nicholas Harris to write an article that they then published.

And he wrote “A narrative has been acknowledged: the privatisation of state housing, followed by the transformation of property into a financial asset, has made housing and especially renting cripplingly expensive.”

Yeah, acknowledged and not challenged by no-nothings like himself who genuinely believes that a property being classed as ‘private rental’ rather than ‘Council housing’ is the cause of any ill at all. A moron without the most basic grasp of supply and demand and so never thinks that a population growing from 60m to 70m without anything like that increase in the housing stock will be the main, nay the only cause of the problems he perceives.

As for Nicholas himself: drop a bucket of shit on his head and he would think the problem was the shit is private; not publicly owned.

David Giles
David Giles
11 months ago

I’m a mug. I’m a mug because I’m not being paid to write this comment, but some other mug of an an editor paid a moron called Nicholas Harris to write an article that they then published.

And he wrote “A narrative has been acknowledged: the privatisation of state housing, followed by the transformation of property into a financial asset, has made housing and especially renting cripplingly expensive.”

Yeah, acknowledged and not challenged by no-nothings like himself who genuinely believes that a property being classed as ‘private rental’ rather than ‘Council housing’ is the cause of any ill at all. A moron without the most basic grasp of supply and demand and so never thinks that a population growing from 60m to 70m without anything like that increase in the housing stock will be the main, nay the only cause of the problems he perceives.

As for Nicholas himself: drop a bucket of shit on his head and he would think the problem was the shit is private; not publicly owned.

Kathie Lou Eldridge
Kathie Lou Eldridge
11 months ago

The housing crisis also exists in to the USA. I live in a resort area where the unavailability of housing and exhorbitant rents force many to live in their cars during the summer. It is not that small landlords are the problem but investment groups buying up up property and then raising rents to benefit shareholders coupled along with the paucity of available housing and second, third , fourth and fifth homeowners who live where I live because there is no state income tax but they raise the property taxes so high that small landlords are also forced to raise rents in order to hold on to their property.

Kathie Lou Eldridge
Kathie Lou Eldridge
11 months ago

The housing crisis also exists in to the USA. I live in a resort area where the unavailability of housing and exhorbitant rents force many to live in their cars during the summer. It is not that small landlords are the problem but investment groups buying up up property and then raising rents to benefit shareholders coupled along with the paucity of available housing and second, third , fourth and fifth homeowners who live where I live because there is no state income tax but they raise the property taxes so high that small landlords are also forced to raise rents in order to hold on to their property.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago

The only way out of the current mess is for the government to build council houses en masse. Leaving it to the market is doomed to fail, as developers are never going to build at the rate required to drop prices as it’s not in their interests to do so.
A glut of council houses would allow hard working youngsters to move out of private rentals and into secure homes. This in turn would reduce demand for rentals causing rents to drop and landlords selling up, which in turn would lead to a drop in house prices and give hard working families a chance of owning a home of their own

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

No no no. Developers just want to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that providing their business produces safe housing and is non-monopolistic. Drop the land prices created by artificial shortages through planning and they will make the same profits but sell the housing for less per unit. The loser is only the landowner, who makes perhaps ÂŁ1m an acre instead of the ÂŁ10,000 an acre of agricultural value.

And as far turning young people into tenants of the state…. Horrendous. Look at the quality of state housing; consider people who have state jobs, live in state houses, and all the rest. We are in vassalage enough, set the people tonal least live free of the grip of the incompetent and stupid state.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Developers will never build enough houses to drop prices, the last 40 years has proven that. Why build 300k houses a year which you have to sell at a lower price when you can make the same money building 150k whilst keeping demand higher? Proponents of Thatcherism now resemble the attitudes shown by the Communists in that any negative effects that have arisen from following those policies is never the fault of the ideology, it’s simply because we haven’t tried it “properly” yet. I’m sure if we double down on what we’ve already tried and just deregulate that little bit more it’ll work next time

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Developers will never build enough houses to drop prices, the last 40 years has proven that. Why build 300k houses a year which you have to sell at a lower price when you can make the same money building 150k whilst keeping demand higher? Proponents of Thatcherism now resemble the attitudes shown by the Communists in that any negative effects that have arisen from following those policies is never the fault of the ideology, it’s simply because we haven’t tried it “properly” yet. I’m sure if we double down on what we’ve already tried and just deregulate that little bit more it’ll work next time

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

No no no. Developers just want to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that providing their business produces safe housing and is non-monopolistic. Drop the land prices created by artificial shortages through planning and they will make the same profits but sell the housing for less per unit. The loser is only the landowner, who makes perhaps ÂŁ1m an acre instead of the ÂŁ10,000 an acre of agricultural value.

And as far turning young people into tenants of the state…. Horrendous. Look at the quality of state housing; consider people who have state jobs, live in state houses, and all the rest. We are in vassalage enough, set the people tonal least live free of the grip of the incompetent and stupid state.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago

The only way out of the current mess is for the government to build council houses en masse. Leaving it to the market is doomed to fail, as developers are never going to build at the rate required to drop prices as it’s not in their interests to do so.
A glut of council houses would allow hard working youngsters to move out of private rentals and into secure homes. This in turn would reduce demand for rentals causing rents to drop and landlords selling up, which in turn would lead to a drop in house prices and give hard working families a chance of owning a home of their own

Andy Iddon
Andy Iddon