Should Landlords Be Demonised?

The People's Countryside Environmental Debate Podcast

10-10-2023 • 41 mins

Regular co-hosts Stuart and William are joined by Suzi Darrington. an Oxford University Crankstart Intern with them in the summer, who returns to the ‘Listener’s Chair’ to give her two pennies worth and because this question really resonated with her. She will be back again in future episodes. The following question came from listener Derrick, in West Hendred, Oxfordshire, England.

“Should landlords be demonised as they are after all providing homes. Even if they put the prices of rents up too much though and no one can afford them, the homes are still there though, and could be turned into AirB&B’s?”

Is the core of this issue how we look at renting and home ownership? Stuart compares the property ladder to a pyramid scheme: people jump on this ladder believing they’ll make money but that horse has bolted. He says people don’t like moving and mentions the north/south divide as well as the unfair distribution of property in the UK. The North East has a lot of empty houses because the population has moved out. How can we get people to move to places that have a surplus of housing, and make it fair? Also, the social housing that building companies should create often falls short of the target. How can we change that?

William feels a home is a sanctuary where you feel safe, not a transient place you just exist in. He mentions how the major UK supermarkets were pulled up by the government for potentially profiteering from the cost of living crisis. Are landlords profiteering too? He says we need more equality and a wide variety of properties, particularly affordable rental places. The social housing stock is low, and the bar to be eligible for a home is high. William compares going up the property ladder with going up in society. He asks where the drive for homeownership in the UK comes from. He and Stuart conclude that it goes way back. We live on a crowded island and are protective of our property. William cites the episode with guest Heli Paulasto where the discussion was framed around the different attitudes around the right to roam between Finland and the UK. He points out that in the past large housing estates were built, e.g. in Glasgow, with no amenities, and that it still happens with housing projects today. He goes on to raise the idea of the 15-minute city.

Suzi looks at the sinister side of all of this. We appear to be shifting in attitude towards a more privatised service industry in every aspect. She believes we have an obsession with ownership, an unachievable dream particularly for the younger generation. She asks is the desire to own our own home a reflection of sovereignty and is this baked into the British character?

They conclude with a conversation around why people move or stay, the mistrust of immigration, and the impact of air b&bs.

What do you make of this discussion? Do you have a question that you'd like us to discuss? Let us know by sending an email to ⁠thepeoplescountryside@gmail.com

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This podcast's overall themes are nature, philosophy, climate, the human condition, sustainability, and social justice.
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