And We Were Doing So Well…

Having managed to start off the New Year with myself and Antonia Bance actually agreeing on a point we then get this:

7. Hundreds of new houses built in Oxford, hundreds of thousands nationally, and increased regulation to target profiteering and unscrupulous landlords

That\’s part of her wish list for the coming year. The problem is that the two aims are mutually contradictory. We actually want landlords to make a profit: that\’s what gives them the incentive to invest in a house and then rent it to people. Making more housing available (a good idea at a time of both rising population and a further, on top of that, rise in household formation as we live in smaller groups) means an expansion of the privately owned rental market. Thus less regulation, not more.

One of the beneficial changes over the past few decades has been the way in which the regulations on that market have been lifted. Assured tenancies, the abolition of "fair rent", essentially a move back in time, or, if you prefer, towards a more European market, by the destruction of the insane rules which pretty much destroyed the rental market after WWII.

We\’ve already in fact tried this experiment, regulating landlords, and it leads to the absence of housing available to rent. If we actually want more housing available, better that we not make the same mistake again, eh?

3 thoughts on “And We Were Doing So Well…”

  1. We’ve had this one previously though Tim – the market is so broken in Oxford (and the private rented market running at twice the average proportion of all housing in the country) that they can and do get away with real shite at the fringes of the private rental market which people not terribly well equipped to counter (mostly youngsters in a “strange” city) are left with little alternative than to accept.

    I would not do it the way the city council wants to do it of course. And goodness knows over the years I’ve tried to get a number of schemes off the ground to get concerted efforts by tenants working for mutual benefit to reject the worst housing in the market without much success.

  2. Land Value Tax, that’ll sort it all out (Jock was too polite to bang the LVT drum this time, so I will instead). It’d encourage more efficient use of land as well as creaming off excessive profits from land value speculation. So no further regulations required and existing ones can be largely scrapped (HMO, anybody?).

  3. I think the market would try to react to regulation by reducing the rental stock, but I think new legislation means that any empty property can be comandeered by local authorities after 6 months, and used for social housing, regardless of the owners wishes. So that would be a massive incentive for landlords to sell up and get out of the rental sector altogether. They aren’t going to stay in a market like that.

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