By Greater Manchester Housing Action (@gmhousingaction)
Earlier this year we published a piece on our site, ‘The Good Landlord is a Myth’ by ACORN Liverpool member Tom Lavin. The piece sought to take to task the oft-heard distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ landlords — sometimes used even by housing NGOs — in order to lay bare the exploitation that sits at the heart of landlordism.
The problem with the good landlord/ bad landlord approach is it forecloses the possibility of a more structural critique of landlordism. By focusing on the rotten apples, we miss sight of the broader picture — that landlords make their money not through the production of anything useful, but by parasitically taking the wages earned by workers in the form of rent. The whole system by its very nature is exploitative. It’s set up to allow those with access to capital to live off the work of others through parasitic rent-seeking.
This has been starkly revealed by the pandemic. As millions struggle to meet their rent as jobs losses mount; landlords sit pretty, safe in the knowledge that the government — and the law — is on their side. Indeed, one notable interest that has sailed through this pandemic relatively unscathed has been landlords. There is a naked injustice that rots the heart of our society: the contradiction between landlords and their tenants.
To cap off our series of discussions where we have explored tactical and strategic questions facing the organised renters movement; we are excited to announce the publication in print of Tom’s essay.
Our hope is that this pamphlet will become a tool for political education and discussion. We hope tenants unions, trade unions, Labour and other party branches, and community groups will consider holding reading and discussion groups — so please get in touch if you want support facilitating these!
As a movement we must expand our critical horizon beyond simply bad landlords to the very mechanics of rent itself; and this pamphlet represents one of our contributions to this goal.
The Myth of the Good Landlord
£4 each (includes p&p).
Details on how to order: Please send money via paypal to paypal.me/gmhousingaction, let us know you are buying 'The Myth of the Good Landlord', be sure to un-click 'paying for goods or services' (so we don't lose 30p to Paypal fees!), and include your address. We’ll get it posted out to you!
10 December 2020