The Question Of Handouts For . . . Evil? . . . Essential? Landlords

Closeup of a weathered face under a black hat flecked with white snowlflakes.
Snow Men 6 photo by Neil Moralee is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Black hat or white hat? Evil Landlord gouging the rent, or important housing provider for society?

For anyone who is a renter (as this writer is) there’s never any difficulty to finding some transgression, small or large, over which to gnash teeth.

(For example my landlord’s ‘let’s all pull together’ contribution to the pandemic is radio silence plus one small hand sanitizer bottle, frequently empty, wobbling in a soap dish at the entrance to the apartment building. Rumour has it that ‘he’ has retired to a summer palace to wait out the storm. Other rumours: ‘he’ is a corporation, suggesting multiple summer palaces. Who knows for sure?)

However satisfying the free market sport of hating the evil landlord, these private enterprise individuals and corporations nonetheless provide an absolutely essential part of a nation’s housing. By and large, the alternative to free market rental housing is government rental housing. For many, if not most in this day and age, that is no alternative at all.

So when an outcry demands relief for those unable to pay the rent due to job loss in a land of COVID-19, it seems only fair — if not essential — that balancing relief be afforded to landlords. Your non-rent payment is likely their non-mortgage payment, foretelling the loss of one more home from a rental housing supply that is probably already unequal to the demand.

In Scotland, where the need for landlord relief has been recognized, the case for extending that relief to balance an ongoing crisis for renters is made at Scottish Housing News: Why Landlord Loans Need To Be Extended