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Samizdata quote of the day – UK landlord insanity edition

“Making it harder to evict residents is only likely to make it harder to rent. Landlords will inevitably be more selective about who they offer properties to and charge higher rents when they cannot quickly evict bad tenants. That is likely to disproportionately hurt those who are poorer, younger, and from minority communities.”

Matthew Lesh, of the Institute of Economic Affairs, commenting on measures by the current “Conservative” government, to make it more difficult for landlords to evict tenants in certain cases (there appears to be some issue about the details). The impact is the same as making it harder to fire workers. Other things being equal, fewer people get hired. (Look at Italy, where firing people is hard and produces bizarre effects.)

The inverted quotes around “Conservative” are, as you might guess, there for a reason.

8 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – UK landlord insanity edition

  • JohnK

    The “Conservative” party wants to promote home ownership. They seem to have reached the conclusion that forcing small landlords to quit will increase the number of houses to buy. But if tenants (now called by the ugly term “renters”) could have afforded to buy houses, they would have done.

    Does net immigration (now called “migration”) of up to a million a year distort the housing market? Just a bit maybe?

  • Paul Marks.

    For once I can not say that is just pressure from national and international forces – a minister does seem to carry some (some) of the blame for this terrible policy.

    Mr Michael Gove is said to be a strong supporter of this terrible proposal – this failure to understand the basic laws of economics.

    Mr Gove is also said to have been a strong supporter of the, demented, Covid lockdowns – not forced to accept them as Mr Johnson was.

    I would like to see Mr Gove OUT of the government.

  • Hugh

    Bad tenants cost thousands, not hundreds, even without counting those unpaid “higher rents”. Only the more prosperous of good tenants actually pay them, and that is a matter of supply and demand.

    For the rest: wholesale eviction as landlords give up.

  • Paul Marks.

    I remember Mr Peter Hitchens saying that his friend Mr Gove was not a supporter of market forces – as if it was a good thing to be ignorant of the laws of economics.

    There are two sorts of conservative.

    Those who have a basic understanding of economics – such as the Old Whig Edmund Burke, Lord Liverpool and Sir Robert Peel.

    And those who do not understand the basic laws of economics and, therefore, think that government intervention can “help the people” (rather than harm the people – which is what interventionism really does) – this is the (false) line of Disraeli, and (it appears) Mr Gove.

  • Paul Marks.

    Contrary to J.S. Mill – economic freedom is not a “different principle” from civil liberties, it is the same (not a different) principle.

    Government no more has a right to tell people who they can and can not remove from their property than it has a right to tell people what they may or may not say – freedom of contract is part of the same principle as freedom of speech.

    Making eviction difficult is part of the once infamous “Spanish Practices” which reduced Spain from the superpower of Europe, to a second or third rate power.

    Again contra Mill, the question is not whether an action “harms” someone (anything can “harm” the interests of someone else), but whether or not an action is aggression against someone – and telling someone to leave your property (evicting them) is most certainly not an aggression against them in Common Law.

  • Kirk

    The government has no business trying “help people”. That’s an idea that will always, always end in infamy and governmental failure on a scale unimaginable to the people who chose that fork in the road.

    Scoundrels always use that cry when they first seek to take over the machinery of governance and turn it towards “bettering everyone’s lives”, but it somehow always ends in the gulag or the death camp. I wonder why.

    None of the people that ever get power under one of these “improve everyone’s lot” schemes should be let anywhere near the levers of power or the pursestrings. They’ll do things that seem eminently reasonable at first, but by the time a generation or two has gone by, they’ll be paying people not to build housing because that reduces the value of existing structures–Which sounds like lunacy, but that’s what’s actually going on with a lot of zoning in and around major US cities.

    Anyone familiar with the old nursery rhyme about the old lady who swallowed a fly, and then a spider…? They should be able to identify the problem with government intervention in anything; the allegory is incredibly clear.

  • Hugh

    Gove and Braverman to the rescue!
    Eviction only for lawful tenants.
    Despairing landlords can join the Government’s illegal immigration scheme, where the rules don’t apply.
    Sign up with Serco.

  • Paul Marks.


    Mr Gove and Mrs Braverman have very different political opinions.

    Kirk – yes, it is worth noting that the areas of the United States where government tries to “help the people” the most are the areas which people are trying to leave.

    The key factor is – do the people who are leaving understand that it was the “caring” government who ruined the area they are fleeing from?

    In the past they did not understand this vital point – so, for example, people would flee from California to Colorado and then ruin Colorado (because they brought terrible beliefs with them).

    But there is now quite a lot of evidence that people who flee “benevolent” government now understand that it is the government interventionism that ruined the area they are fleeing from.

    That is massive progress.

    Contra F.H. Hayek, liberty can only be established or preserved by people who have a basic understanding of liberty, people who understand the consequences of their actions (including how they vote).