Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Why you should absolutely detest landlordism


Let's start off with a caveat: Not all landlords are equally bad.

The one who brought you Christmas chocolates for the kids that year is vastly superior to the one who revenge evicted you for complaining to the estate agent about their regular unannounced visits.

The one who promptly fixed the broken boiler in the dead of winter is infinitely preferable to the one who repeatedly refused to listen when you told you about the water leak and growing mould problem, then took the cost of all the damage out of your deposit at the end of the rental.

Some people do things in a decent way, and some people are absolute scum. That's just a fact of life.

This article isn't about that, it's about the economic principle of landlordism itself.

From an economic standpoint landlordism is the pinnacle of exploitation, to such an extent that it even beats capitalism.

After all, at least the output of capitalism is economically productive activity.

Under capitalist business models the materials and labour get combined to form the product, with the capitalist taking a big slice of profit for themselves based purely on their ownership of the factory and the machines.

But the landlord takes a cut for themselves without even producing anything! They just derive unearned income from property ownership, without any economically productive activity whatever to justify their cut.

Whenever the parasitical nature of landlordism gets pointed out, the landlords come out in droves to defend themselves and their exploitative economic behaviour.

Some justifications are far better than others of course. If you moved away for a couple of years for work, with the intention of coming back, it clearly makes sense to rent the house out in the short-term.

Taking out huge loans on the other hand, to buy up all the affordable property you can get your hands on in the local area, in order to extract loan repayments from all the people who you've priced out of the housing market is absolutely despicable stuff.

The most irritating Landlordism justification of all are the plaintive cries of "it's my pension".

So instead of investing in the moderate-but-safe returns of a private pension, or the higher-but-riskier returns of playing the stock market, or actually doing something economically productive like building their own business, they decided to take out a load of unsecured property loans and get some other poor saps to pay them off?

They ignored the simple economic principle that the higher the returns, the higher the risks, and now that the coronavirus crisis means the people they're exploiting might not be able to pay rent for a while, they're crying victim and demanding to be bailed out with public funds, or through even higher rates of rent extraction to pay back the rent arrears!

The absolute entitlement of it!

This "it's my pension" mob, who view homes as wealth extraction opportunities, rather than places to live, are responsible for the absolute devastation of the UK housing market.

Not only have they bought up almost all of the affordable housing for their economic parasitism schemes, they've also managed to get their filthy hands on a third of all the council houses that got flogged off on the cheap too.

this parasitical rent-seeking behaviour extends beyond housing too.

Just think of the privatised utility companies that were handed £billions worth of public infrastructure on the cheap, and now extract £billions in unearned profits in shareholder dividends and bloated executive salaries, purely because they happen to be the owners of the infrastructure that was all built at the public expense.

Our public funds built the infrastructure, their Tory mates in politics flogged it off to them on the cheap, and now we have to pay them a load of unearned rent on top of the cost of actually providing these utilities and services.

The Financial Times reported that the privatised water companies alone are responsible for the unearned extraction of £2.3 billion per year in economic rent.

The parasitical rent-seeker is an absolute blight on the real economy, because the wealth they extract is wealth that could otherwise have been spent on genuinely productive economic activities like business formation or consumption.

And don't dare try to write this critique of landlordism off as some kind of far-left analysis, here's a quote from the notoriously anti-socialist Winston Churchill:

"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 — all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is affected by the labour and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of these improvements does the 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."

Landlordism is so ridiculously parasitical from an economic standpoint that it even makes capitalism look good in comparison, and it doesn't matter how many soothing fairy stories landlords might tell themselves about them being the good and responsible ones, not the nasty exploitative slumlord ones, the fact is that what they're doing is still economic parasitism.

But the worst thing of all is the absolute entitlement of these exploiters when it comes to economic hard times.

They simply won't accept the inherent risks in borrowing cash to make unsecured property investments, and then expecting to indefinitely live off other people's backs to pay off what they borrowed.

The whole economy is taking an enormous economic hit, the second mega-crisis in the space of twelve years, and these idle exploiters expect to be bailed out at the expense of the genuinely productive economy, so that they're the only ones not to take a hit.

The worst thing of course is that our political and media class are absolutely riddled with landlordism. The liberal media outlets are just as full of landlords as the hard-right propaganda rags, and even the Labour Party front bench is stuffed with landlords.

It's difficult to see how we ever begin to move away from this economy-sapping model of parasitical landlordism when the establishment class is absolutely riddled with the idle beneficiaries of it.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.




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25 comments:

Phil "Oxford" said...

I have been renting from the same landlord in west Wales for 17 years and my landlord has been very good and was understanding at times when I was unemployed. He wrote off 2 months of arrears. The points made by AAV are still absolutely valid. I have paid out £75000.00 + and the property has tripled in value. Repair bills and updates have been minimal in comparison. Plus I have been a model tenant but I still have virtually no security of tenure as at anytime the landlord can require me to leave with 2 months notice and for no reason. Property rental in the UK is a one-sided extortion racket.

Ed Thorman said...

I admit to having done this. I bought a shagged old terrace house, spent 30k doing it up and now rent it at extortionate rates to students.
I'm a great landlord but it weighs heavily on me. The property is up for sale as I don't want to be a parasite any longer

badthink said...

Good man

Unknown said...

I was only talking about this last night. People were conned into buying council houses and shares in the utilities and had no idea of what they were actually buying. They were sold a dream that if they owned their own homes and shares this would somehow make them wealthier and therefore better people.
They had no idea what they had bought. Never before faced with the costs of maintaining a property,they expected their palrty few shares to make them millions. Just a ruse to dismantle the welfare state

Anonymous said...

I love the opening of this that compares a few landlords.
But I want to throw in another personal example that happened to me 3 years ago.

In a property for 6 years, and frankly? it was a wreck. Tiles falling off, windows not sealed properly, water pouring in when it rained, damp and blown plaster literally falling off the walls (hidden by backing paper holding it together), broken floorboards.

After endless complaints to the estate agent, nothing but the most remedial work was ever done.

So went about it myself. Spent thousands of my own money expecting that I would be ignored for a decade at least, to make myself a comfortable home.

I had just finished plastering the last wall, when I was given a months notice. In Scotland they legally have to give you 3 (so the contempt was apparent). The excuse was that they wanted to move back in to their property.

This left me on a loose end finding anywhere with such limited notice, only by luck did I get an offer at the same price.

What happened next was the most disturbing. About a year later, I get letters of intent to prosecute from finance and energy firms for not paying. Registered at? my old address.

The bastard had taken out loans and left the energy bills in my name!
Thankfully, the fraud was relatively easy to prove, but it hit me hard. The credit cards of mine were stopped, bank issues, I was frozen for another year that hit me and my business hard.

But the ultimate kicker, nobody was living in the house, until more recently when someone else moved in, to a much higher standard property (thanks to me) paying 50% more rent.

The most sickening thing of all though, this same criminal is considering an upstanding citizen of the town. And how he actually got out of jail-time for fraud I dont know. I'm still pissed off despite it.


Bonzo said...

I'm a landlord. I charge my tenant about 80% of the market rate, undercutting the market. I keep the property in excellent condition. My tenant couldn't afford to buy her own house, so if I sell up and stop being a landlord she will have to rent somewhere else at 100% of the market rate. I know I'm unusual, but I'm pointing out the problem with generalisations. Landlords do offer a service - the same sort of service that car hire companies offer.. or people who rent narrow boats or caravans. Yes of course many landlords are exploitative, charging far too much for this service, but not necessarily all.

Unknown said...

Wow! Impressed with your integrity.

Tony White said...

O.k. if the local authority is your landlord, i.e. if you live in a council house.

Anonymous said...

"Advancing civilization tends to increase the power of human labor to satisfy human desires. We should be able to eliminate poverty. But workers cannot reap these benefits because they are intercepted. Land is necessary to labor. When it has been reduced to private ownership, the increased productivity of labor only increases rent. Thus, all the advantages of progress go to those who own land. Wages do not increase — wages cannot increase. The more labor produces, the more it must pay for the opportunity to make anything at all."
Henry George, Progress and Poverty
https://schalkenbach.org/file-12/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/PROGRESS-AND-POVERTY-Henry-George-wm_Optimizer.pdf

Anonymous said...

Oh God, some idiots in the comments section genuinely think fucking over property rights is a good idea in response to this issue.

Just so we've got this straight; You see an economic issue and you want to do away with a basic human right. Moronic.

Look how well that went in Soviet Russian, Zimbabwe, China, Ethiopia and a plethora of other countries that undermined, again, a basic human right. You lot are aware that it's never worked for the betterment of society right? Unless you've an example... go on.

Anonymous said...

Social housing is a form of rent control. Rent control drives up the cost of housing. Social housing does not address the problem it makes it worse.

"https://www.brookings.edu/research/what-does-economic-evidence-tell-us-about-the-effects-of-rent-control/"

Anonymous said...

Right, bit confused: You guys are cool with someone who can't pay rent being evicted right?

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dave2222001 said...

Well Ime a landlord of sorts and agree with pretty well all you say. My situation is different in that we have a lodger who has a sizable chunk of our one house to live in. It was part of the plan. When our family left home the building had been designed to facilitate this (its common in Germany) I think all of our lodgers would see us as reasonable and OK. With the current occupant furloughed we greatly reduced rent to a figure he proposed as what he could afford.. We provide accommodation for folk the house cannot be split (one heating one gas , one electricity and one water and one heating system but we do provide decent accommodation at a reasonable rent. Personally I wouldn't consider buying houses to rent (neither of our adult kids could afford a place due to the current culture. As I say that was our plan with a single house which does subsidize our pension.

Anonymous said...

How many people in this chat actually identify as communist? Just interested that's all?

Anonymous said...

How many people in this chat actually identify as vulture-crapitalist? I'm only interested so I know who to feel sorry for.

The West is finished. The free-market is king, greed is good, sell of everything we own, privatise everything that moves, deliberately savage large swathes of our own manufacturing base, wealth will trickle down bollox is unraveling. It's not a question of if but when the wheels totally come off. To the guy above mentioning Russia, China, Zimbabwe, Ethiopea (in a typical black-white simplistic BBC manner), do you think a country which has the fifth largest economy in the world is an example of the betterment of society when 18.5 million (almost a third of the entire population) are living just above, on or below (14 million) the poverty line? Millions having to go to a food bank so they don't starve? Homelessness, rough sleeping, inequality, male suicide rate all going through the roof?

The U.K. ruling class can magic money tree up trillions in capital to bomb the crap out of numerous foreign states, destroy and devastate the lives of tens of millions in those countries, bail out those 'wealth creators' in the vampiric bankster cartel, but can't provide affordable social housing or sustainable long term jobs that pay a semi-decent wage for millions of their own people. The betterment of society?

I could go on, but just like 'landlordism', the above is just a scratch on the tip of the iceberg. Private debt is at record levels in the U.K. When that bubble bursts (and all bubbles eventually do) it'll make crapitalst credit crunch of 2008 look like a teddy bears picnic.


Anonymous said...

Great yo see AAV back in full flow again. We have missed you.

Anonymous said...

"To the guy above mentioning Russia, China, Zimbabwe, Ethiopea (in a typical black-white simplistic BBC manner), do you think a country which has the fifth largest economy in the world is an example of the betterment of society when 18.5 million (almost a third of the entire population) are living just above, on or below (14 million) the poverty line? Millions having to go to a food bank so they don't starve? Homelessness, rough sleeping, inequality, male suicide rate all going through the roof?"

No, I think that scenario is a vast improvement on the countries I mentioned i.e Soviet Russia, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia after they abolished property rights. In fact I'm flabbergasted at your idiocy that you think the UK in it's current state, even with those issues is in any way worse of then regimes that have killed tens of millions of people.

Abolishing private property will make the situation far worse for everyone as evidenced by any country that has played around with or abolished a basic human right. You idiot.

There are of course far better policies you can put in place, I'd suggest looking those up before you go down destroying human rights. Fucking hell, try harder.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I've identified one nut job who wants to abolish private property rights. That's abolish a basic human right. That#'s equality for you I guess. Any other takers?

Anonymous said...

Private property rights and laws are sacrosanct. Keep the state out of housing. Keep the state out of banking. Keep the state out of our lives: Housing crisis solved. Easy.

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