Free market democracies offer little natural protection to their citizens when it comes to the “inalienable right” of gamblers to speculate for profit in life’s essentials, such as food and shelter.
This is particularly true when it comes to one of civilization’s oldest professions. No, not prostitution — landlording. Considered almost universally to be a reputable small business, a housing owner in most jurisdictions can charge whatever the market will bear in order to earn that landlord a profit.
Unfortunately, under the circumstances of recent history, “financialisation, privatisation and speculation” have put the landlord right to profit at increasing odds with a human need for shelter (never mind any human right to shelter!). The unequal battle between landlord rights and tenant needs are producing a global rent crisis.
Solutions to the dilemma rend the fabric of purist free enterprise societies, introducing what is inevitably described as government “interference” (at best) or “an insidious invasion of a socialist or communist political system” (at worst). Nevertheless, desperate needs call for desperate measures.
It is not surprising to find innovative approaches test-driven in Europe, where labels such as “socialist” and “communist” produce far more measured response than in countries such as America, where reactions are more akin to the results of a cucumber placed behind a cat.1
In Berlin, Germany, a city of renters, enough has been declared enough. A rent cap has been introduced to literally place a lid on rents.2 What implications might this have for renters in the United Kingdom, and by extension, to other free market economies? Read more in The Guardian: Berlin’s rent cap offers a new way of thinking about Britain’s housing crisis
For more ideas, check out other posts here: Rent Controls
- Unfamiliar with the effect? Try here, or search for many other Youtube examples.
- For earlier posts on the rent cap story, see: Can Renters Survive Without Commodified Housing? Berlin Aims To Find Out, and Are Big Landlords Bad For Affordable Renting? Berlin Thinks They Might Be.