August 14, 2014

Ignoring the scale of renters' panic is a political failure on a monumental scale

Posted in Irish Independent · 95 comments ·

When I was a kid, a German guy moved in down the road and his dad said something that summed up his disbelief at the way Ireland worked and it has always stayed with me.

One day, talking to my Dad at the gate, he shook his head and laughed “In Germany we buy our TVs and rent our houses; in Ireland, you rent your TVs and buy your houses.”

That was true, we did rent our telly. Everyone on the road did, yet most of the houses were owned. The few renters came and went and mothers would refer to these people as “only renting”.

This “only renting” attitude prevails today, 35 years later, and it is causing enormous insecurity for hundreds of thousands of people.

One of the many by-products of the latest housing bubble – which the State could stop tomorrow if it wanted to – is that more and more tenants are getting evicted. Landlords are calling time on leases either to get new tenants who will pay more, or to sell their property because they believe that this mini-bubble will end soon and now it’s time to cash in.

The narrative of greedy landlords and needy tenants is an easy one, but mightn’t be altogether true. Yes, there are “rogue” landlords, but there are also “rogue” tenants. There are also many, many bankrupt buy-to-let, part-time landlords who are up the creek. These people, largely boom-time buyers of second houses, will argue that they need to charge higher rents to make ends meet.

Although this argument is understandable from the individual landlord’s point of view, raising rent dramatically is not the same – from a societal point of view – as raising the price of a car or laptop.

A home is different. Most people should understand this.

The trauma of being evicted and the prospect of being homeless are terrifying. While there are some laws to protect the renter, one of the endemic issues in our country is the way in which social attitudes (as opposed to the law) overwhelmingly support the land owner as opposed to the person who gives the land its value, the renter.

After all, investment properties have no value if there is no rent. Rent is the stream of income underpinning the value of the asset. Yet the person who pays this rent is seen as dispensable rather than essential.

This societal bias towards the landowner runs deep in the Irish psyche and as a result, the renter is almost a silent victim – renters are still seen as implicitly second-class families in our Republic.

This attachment to a type of neo-feudalism, where land ownership equates to status, is bizarre in an economic world where what is between our ears – rather than under our feet – is the most valuable commodity.

The Irish land obsession is feudal and the very antithesis of the modern economy. Do you think Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, the people who are changing the world, are talking about property values?

But property and the bias towards landlords is unfortunately an enduring and backward facet of our society and not even the most spectacular property crash in the Western world has diminished it.

As a result, the plight of thousands of families who are renting and who feel insecure is largely ignored. These are our neighbours, their children are in our children’s schools, they are part of the community, yet they can be uprooted with deleterious ease.

By law, tenants can be protected for four years if they claim what is called a Part 4 tenancy. This means that technically a tenant’s tenure is protected for four years. The only problem is that although these tenancies are supposed to rollover, there is a loophole which allows the landlord to throw the tenant out for no reason within six months of the expiry of the Part 4 agreement.

However, due to social attitudes that supports the landowner, tenants who look for a Part 4 tenancy are regarded as “difficult’ and many landlords and leasing agents try to force tenants into a simple one-year lease. This is the reality and many tenants are living in limbo waiting for the landlord to deliver news of a rent hike.

Even with a proper lease or Part 4 Tenancy, there is no real security because there are still three ways the landlord can end a tenancy. He can sell or claim that he is keeping the place for a relative or needs to refurbish. These are “get-out” clauses for the landlord and they are being cited all over the place to get rid of tenants. In many cases, the refurbishment is an excuse to put the place back on the market in a few months at a much higher rent.

During the bust, when there was an opportunity to change the status quo, nothing was done to enhance tenants’ rights and now the recent spike in housing demand, particularly in Dublin, has translated into an increased sense of power for landlords.

The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) statistics show monthly rents have increased in all Dublin areas this year, with Dublin 9 the hardest hit, by an annual increase of 12.7pc. The average rent across the city has risen to €1,089 per month.

This is causing what I would describe as a “renters’ panic” as people try to out-bid each other to find a place to live, so much so that the experts think that rents will go up by 20-25pc in the next 12 months.

One way of preventing the sudden knock on the door would be a stipulation, which is the norm in Austria and Germany, that the landlord can serve a notice to quit but must give 12 to 24 months’ notice. When families are involved, this notice period should be much longer. The long-term solution is to build many more social houses – or council houses as they were known when I was a boy.

The State can borrow for 1pc right now. This is the time to finance a massive social housing programme. The private sector simply isn’t up to the job of providing decent, affordable accommodation.

Out-sourcing this social responsibility to a two-bit buy-to-let sector that is using housing and other people’s rents to top-up their pensions, is political failure on a monumental scale.

    • GF


      One issue with Social Housing (or as we remember it Council Estates), is just that… Council Estates!!!

      Ireland has not got a good track record when it comes to Council Estates (from Tallaght, to Dolphins Barn) what they build is hell holes surrounded by scum. The house might be well built, but to put 100% social housing in any one estate is a social disaster waiting to happen.

      I really liked the idea of a 10% mix (until I saw the developers plopping that 10% on the outskirts of any development being completed). But at the very least there was some sort of a mix even with this slight of hand.

      Council Estates, sorry Social Housing Estates will be just another problem we add to our legacy of problems we are leaving for future generations to be burdened with (here dear grandchild is our billions we owe, here is some of the worst social planning ever, oh and sure have the worst health care system to boot and for a cherry on top it is one of the most expensive, enjoy good grandchildren as we are off to empty the bogs, cut down Oaks to replace with pine trees, while we allow Dublin to spread to Galway, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy).

      • DB4545

        I can only agree with you regarding corporation or council estates. They have a track record of impoverishment for generations of our Citizens. I’m remember a good friend who did well in his leaving and applied to several banks and insurance companies for a job. He lived in the “flats” in inner city Dublin. Not a single reply. In the end he had to use his aunt’s address on the South Circular Road and started with a major insurance company weeks later. This postcode discrimination is still in place it’s just a bit more subtle these days.
        If people are receiving a housing subsidy from the State they should be free to choose where they live subject to a clearly defined maximum amount based on need.In Germany tenants have strong rights but they also have clearly defined responsibilities. I’ve rented in Germany, The USA,Australia and the UK and always paid on time and looked after the property.
        As a landlord (1 property) I’ve found out to my cost again just how bad tenants can turn out to be despite supposedly impeccable references. I’ve just completed a refurbishment. When I leased it three years ago I handed it over in show house condition having put in a brand new kitchen/boiler/flooring/carpets and refurbished it from top to bottom. The painter summed it up by asking did I have a pack of wolves living there. I had to strip it back to a shell and start over. I couldn’t believe human beings could leave a house in such a state. A previous tenant stole a brand new suite of furniture and several other items before moving overseas. When I reported the matter to the Gardai I was told it was a civil matter and they had no further interest. I’m all for tenants rights but they must come with responsibilities like Germany and other Countries.

        • How can a robbery be a ‘civil matter’?

          This place is a joke.

          • LKSteve

            Adam, I am back from Aussie for a short visit to family & friends. Everyone here says it is a joke, but they vote in the same shower of no-hoper cute hoor incompetent gombeens every time. It’s a joke alright.

          • DB4545

            I would have defined it as theft. I had the invoice, delivery date, list of house contents and photos. The Gardai were sympathetic but said it would be too difficult to prove. And I didn’t see any extradition warrant coming down the line for a three piece suite. We don’t do enforcement. As a pal said in the US they have “to protect and serve” on the patrol cars. We should have “Jaysus it could have been worse” on ours.

          • Yeah it’s a disgrace, have a nice holiday nevertheless Steve.

        • pablos

          I am living in Germany, and all you hear here are similar stories of ‘mietnomaden’ (people who travel around paying no rent) and accommodation being left in shambles, fighting with neighbours who either make too much noise or with neighbours who wont accept any noise at all. It doesn’t seem any different here other than that flats are unfurbished – this adds a significant effort on moving to new accommodation as you have to dismantle your kitchen and shift all your appliances as well, not to mention re-painting etc.

      • Deco

        The discussion as to what social housing incentivizes is very raw, and upsetting. But there are behavioural problems with some people in social housing.

        Currently, the “in vogue” thinking is that if social housing is spread around more that this will make the behavioural problems disappear. This is nonsense.

        Social mores from the top to the bottom are the real problem. And in particular, the perception by those on welfare, that those on the next level up are suckers is a serious problem.

        Ireland’s social housing option is a pressure valve to siphon off dissent at the way that the property market in Dublin is rigged, and manner in which nepotism and cronyism still dominate the jobs market outside of Dublin.

        There are pervasive societal problems, wit regards to opportunity, the criminal justice system, employment taxes, and housing availability.

        And also…how can people in Japan live in apartment in cities and be peaceful towards their neighbours, yet in the Irish midlands you have an estate in every town that is loaded up with headbangers who go around wrecking everybody’s peace – and they expect to get away with it.

        Ireland – we have problems, and we need to address them.

        • DB4545

          We have problems with enforcement because we tolerate bullshit that few other Countries will entertain. Try that nonsense in Spain, Germany or most of Europe and you’ll be having a very unpleasant time with the local police. People know better than to try it on.

    • GF

      What would happen if all residential renters simply stopped renting en mass in one given month? If they all bought property, or moved in for free with family/friends or left the country. Imagine if all residential renters in the country banded together to form a type of union/lobby group and in one short month stopped renting. Or for those who could not find an alternative simply all stopped paying their rent.

      Imagine the power renters would have. Imagine how quickly the government would listen to their needs.

      Honestly think about that for a moment. Would they be treated more like customers on their return to the market, do you think the product they receive on their return would have improved?

      Do you think the crash it would cause in the economy might change the minds of all those who don’t value these citizens?

      How would such a move affect the Irish economy? Just how important are these people, these second class citizens, to this country’s economy? How much tax is generated from tenants? How many buy-to-lets would go under? How many landlords would stop spending in the economy? How much would the ESB, Bord Gas, TV Licence, UPC, Sky, and the new Water Charges lose if all these properties became vacant (tenants pay these bills)?

      How many landlords would be able to continue paying the apartment blocks’ maintenance charge, or property tax? Or income tax for that matter.

      How many estate agents and management companies would go out of business? What would happen to

      Maybe it’s time to begin such a movement, I think I have given myself an idea…

  1. Referendum

    Many referendums are being planned next year and there are NONE to protect the rights of Home Owners or Tenants .

    • stevedublin

      Tenants in this country have a myriads of rights (see Residential Tenancies Act 2004).
      Many of these rights are abused by unscrupulous tenants.
      LLs need more protection from tenants who do not pay any rent yet are impossible to evict because of excessive rights.
      (I have no problem with tenants who pay full rent and do not cause problems for their neighbours)

      • EugeneN

        They have little or not rights compared to most of the rest of the world. Families need 2 years notice in most of Europe.

        • stevedublin

          Tenants effectively have the right to live rent-free, what other country in the world has this?

          • GF

            Hi Steve

            I am not sure if you are referring to one bad incident you experienced as a landlord but this is simply not true.

            Like in all aspects of life there are always going the “users” who know how to distort the laws to push and achieve outcomes that those laws were never set up to serve. But in the case of tenants I feel this is likely about 0.05%, about the same proportion of criminals in the country to decent folk.

            Tenants have no real rights in this country. In most instances tenants cannot get their deposit back. If the PRTB rules in the tenants favour the landlord STILL does not have to return the deposit. That is how powerful the PRTB is, it does not even have a water pistol.

            Maybe you were burned by a bad tenant, but to state that tenants in this country get to live rent free is idiotic. To state that the law in Ireland is in the tenants favour is equally idiotic.

            This is truly the worst country in the western world to be a tenant, but somehow as a landlord you are still not happy with the power you have. And I think this is proven by your tone towards tenants in your postings – you clearly show your distain for them and that you see tenants as second class citizens (David’s article points out that your property is valueless without them).

            I think this might be the best article David has ever written.

          • stevedublin

            I have no disdain towards the majority of tenants who are fair and reasonable, how have I shown any?
            I do not understand the call for more rights for tenants when they have more than enough and LLs have virtually none.
            wrt deposits, perhaps they could be held in escrow independent of LLs.

  2. woodsey

    … and what about doing away with the pornographic, Page 3-type property supplements that appear in our newspapers each week and which appear to be driven by the hacks, answerable to estate agents, desperate to increase their fees?

    • Deco

      We cannot ban any media organization from doing property porn.

      But we can boycott those that relentlessly “talk up the market”. One in particular, has a massive love of talking up the market, and talking about property prices like as if it was the most important measure of the health of society.

    • E. Kavanagh

      If you don’t like it don’t buy it. Obviously a lot of people do like it; how about taking their preferences into account.

  3. Deco

    David, many years ago you stated that property is the dominant “industry” in the formulation of much of state policy. And that it gets overly accommodated.

    Well, we are seeing the results of this.

    Firstly, anybody from Europe driving around suburban Dublin, would be forgiven for thinking that it is NOT a city. Because Dublin is too “vertically challenged” to be a European city. Very little of what is seen goes above a third storey. Never mind a sixth story. Even walking around places like Rathmines, that are in walking distance to the city centre, there is a distinct “lack of height”. Yet rents are “through the roof”.

    For some strange reasons there are very few six and seven storey buildings in the overall landscape of Dublin. Even projects like Adamstown broke glass ceilings with respect to residential density.

    The underdevelopment of the “developed” space is one of the reasons why housing is scarce in Dublin. There are several contradictory policy frameworks in action. But the broad thrust of policy is to drive up house prices as much as possible.

    The Irish state has placed all of it’s bets on house prices rising, and has orchestrated a policy framework to achieve this. And the EU is monitoring this to see if it can solve the wider issues of house price flops in other countries (which are being caused by ECB monetary policy). The Irish people are carrying the cost of this ridiculous policy – in particular the people who are in employment.

    It is in the interests of the banks and NAMA to drive up the price of housing. It is in the interests of local authorities to get as much “cut” from the house price, and to drive up the price of housing as much as possible. It is in the interests of the “property sector”. It is in the interests of the so called “paper of record” with it’s massive debts, and it’s wider credibility problem. It is in the interests of the professional sector. It is in interests of a whole plethora of state institutions, quangos, busy bodies, etc.. to have another “housing boom”.

    And so the debate is now descending into a one way traffic flow once again.

    And now….what shall be done to shut up the dissenting voices, who are not happy with this. Tell them that social housing is about to restart, and that with that policy, that the problem of “unaffordability” will be solved. [ with the added bonus that Joan Burton gets to buy back votes from the people with their money].

    We have convoluted, complex, arcane, ridiculous market rigging, via various policy frameworks. The beneficiaries control the public dialogue. Those stuck with the bill, get an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction, once every five years. Half them, don’t express their dissatisfaction. Those that do usual vote for an political outfit that make no difference – except in terms of semantics, and superficial gestures.

    The whole thing is a mountain of absolute stinking bullsh1t.

    I suspect that large proportions of the population already know this.

  4. Deco

    Social housing – a chance for Joan Burton to find her inner Bertie Ahern.

    The “something for nothing” approach to reviving a political operation that is suffering from an income crisis at local level due to all the failed councillors.

  5. Deco

    The way to deal with greedy landlords, is to increase the overall market availability of what they supply.

    The problem there is that the banks and NAMA are on the same side of the equation as the landlords.

    • EugeneN

      Yes, and the government. In effect renters are paying taxes to keep NAMA and the banks afloat, to capitalise the banks, and to keep the BTLer who bought at the boom time in their houses, and they are rewarded by the same forces massively increasing their rental prices. They may even be kicked out by a Buy To Let landlord who is not paying his mortgage, and can’t be “repossessed” – the real repossession is the kicking out of families in the rental sector ( And by the way all famine victims were renters. The people dispossessing them were landlords).

      The reason I think that rent prices are not such a huge issue – compare to the huge hysteria over the water charges which will cost the payers about one months increase rent in Dublin this year – is because, most of the renters are transient, immigrant or don’t vote where they live, but keep the vote in Galway. And many, if not most, Dubliners, either live in the parent’s home or could.

      However this kind of increase will stop people emigrating here. In my company we just had a guy leave because of taxes and rent. It’s just too expensive here. He went back an Eastern European country with a flat tax.

      Other American employees have upped sticks too, and an executive amongst them. Next time he is looking to expand he will do it in Poland.

      The government caused most of this, it hoards property, gives CGT breaks to investors, doesn’t introduce a land tax and so on. Allowing a boom after the previous boom is criminal. In the annals of history we had the worst property collapse ever, and then with the largest arrears in world history, conspire to create another boom. This is criminal.

  6. The Irish land and property obsession is a result of listening to, and believing the shite that other people, including your beloved parents, ram down your throat every day since birth. If you free if your own mind you won’t get taken in by the scams that this cursed place throws at you each and every day.

    • Colin

      Agreed Adam. Some people have boasted to me about being able to afford expensive property. They feel validated as an important member of society if the bank manager approves them for a mortgage, even if it was 10 times their annual salary. They look in your eye for a glint of envy when they tell you this story. It goes down well in the tennis club and the golf club. They snigger about people they know who rent, calling them ‘losers’. It’s all about putting on an act – tell the outside world how happy and successful you are, then cry into your cornflakes in the privacy of your cash and carry fitted kitchen in the morning.

  7. R.P.Mac

    I was about to comment on one of these contributions when it occurred to they are all essentially the same, and can be summed as “I told you so”.
    As pointed out above we all know the problems, what we need are ANSWERS.
    Please folks, try and bring forth suggestions that we just might get the hopeless governors to implement, I assumed readers of David’s column would be thinking people, show it.

  8. dochasach

    Do the government and newspapers cheer when the price of bread and milk rise 50% over a couple of years? What about the price of water? But property… is different here. A sort of madness sets in that we seem unable to shake.

    Government policies should reward a tenant/landlord relationship as a win-win business relationship rather than a class war. Landlords now see tenant rights, health & safety laws and taxes as burdens which they either hide from or pass on to the tenants. Recent rent rises are not signs of a healthy economy, they are signs that new property taxes are trickling down to the poorest who’ve already been burdened with the crushing weight of bailing out banks and land barons and an ignorant government.

    Subsidies are the mirror image of this. Socialist can feel good about the fact that social housing subsidies briefly pass through the hands of the poor on their way to the land owner. But in truth it nothing more than an upward bias on rental prices and welfare for the wealthy.

    This problem could be solved overnight by a high tax on vacant homes and fallow land. Encourage land hoarders to let or sell their property instead of speculating that it will grow in value while sucking life and resources from the surrounding community. Sensible owners will let or sell at what it is worth right now, rather than some imaginary time in the future. The release of the hoarded land and vacancy tax will force landlords to compete for tenants on price, BER, quality… a healthy business relationship. A tenant will no longer risk the roof over her head by revealing that her children live in a home with no fire extinguisher, smoke alarm, a dodgy furnace and leaky roof.

    Ireland closely followed the worst property bubbles in the US (1-3 year lag) and is well on its way to building unsustainable exburbs and ghettoized doughnut cities like Detroit. We will soon follow another aspect of recent American history. In attempting to help their landed-class friends, the Irish government is in danger of selling Ireland to deep-pocketed international buy-to-let corporations who will become ruthless land barons and we’ll no longer wonder what we’ve been trying to get out from under for the past 800 years.

    • Deco

      It seems that there is a consensus that the “received wisdom” of relentless inflation, and the erosion of purchasing power from the proceeds of one’s sweat.

      The entire public debate about work, taxes, the social contract, state largesse, the refusal of the institutional state to “do accountability”, oligopoly, property, and inflation has been framed in terms that amount to BS.

      What is most astounding, is that the Dublin media has ensured that this has not changed, despite the fact that the “received wisdom” in these areas, brought the entire economic system in Ireland to bankruptcy.

      If you are wondering why we are back again in the year 2000, it is because the policy framework is designed to make it happen. Of course, the state is far more powerful in our lives now than then. The banks are just as dishonest (even if they are much weaker). And the politicians – well the ideas seem remarkably the same, despite the boom bust cycle.

      We are being programmed for “boom bust” again.

      Avoiding it requires massive sacrifice.

      But the greatest fraud of all is the pretence of moral necessity of the decisions being made. Like as if there is something moral about squeezing every last drop of sweat out of the working people, for the sake of a dishonest, deceitful, and rigged system.

      Really, we are just witnessing one game of pretence after another in defence of a system that is increasingly being redesigned to commit to one demanding vested interest after another.

      That is the greatest crime of all. The intellectual dishonesty that pervades all the arguments.

      The whole thing is BS.

      • dochasach

        Exactly, a truthful headline would read:

        FG successfully continues FF policy to promote homelessness, on track for a repeat of the 1850s.

        I didn’t buy into Ireland’s property bubble because of my experience living in Florida where property bubbles are as predictable as the tides, with a 20-year cycle going back to the 1920s. But our desire to repeat a disaster only 7 years later while we’re still paying back international debt from the last one… that’s a special kind of stupid.

    • GF

      Really good points.

      Just one issue with BER ratings, check out and you will see only 22% put up a BER rating before being removed because it is rented. Thus 78% of tenants are never seeing a BER rating and will only discover what it means when the freezing cold of winter sets in (and the heating bills arrive).

      I tried to follow up with Daft and the BER issuing agency and both told me I had to contact local county councils. I sent three emails to relevant county councils, never received a reply, gave up.

  9. kinsele2

    Our rent went up recently for the first time in 5 years by 20%, which I thought was reasonable enough. The landlord was very open about it, told us he is in negative equity, asked us how much extra we think is fair to pay, and to come back to him with a figure as he wants to keep us on as tenants.
    The part which is not reasonable is he told us the bank he has his mortgage with has been telling him he should be raising the rent every year and it already should be much higher, even than the new figure he’s given us. I asked if the bank had inquired about the status of his tenants, and whether we had gotten pay rises to match the rent hikes they were suggesting, the answer was obviously no.
    There are 2 of us living there, both in full employment in Ireland for the last 7-8 years, myself for the last 12 years. So if I’m working things out correctly, our tax money firstly contributed to bailing out the banks, so that as soon as a sniff of opportunity came along, they could put pressure on their negative equity buy to let mortgage holders to raise rents as much as possible to improve their situation without any regard for the people behind the numbers, who are in large part the people who kept their doors open. The already massive taxes show no sign of decreasing in any meaningful way, but now that “things are on the up” the old cohorts are coming out from under their rocks and looking for their share again.
    All the while as can be read repeatedly here wages are going nowhere, or at best creeping up at a much slower rate than these increases. This makes it really difficult to save for a mortgage deposit, or despite being in a “good job” be able to do much at all about your current situation other than complain on internet forums, and listen to the bank adverts that they are lending (ludicrous amounts for really poor real value property that I would never consider) and the government that things are much better and the newspapers that hooray house prices are really high again :-/

    • Deco

      Alright. Let’s see. You work and pay your taxes. And those taxes are thrown at six badly run, irresponsible banks, so that they will not be forced to reform their ways, and sack their leading managers.

      And those banks tell your landlord that he needs to increase your cots of living. And they also tell him that he will not get any debt forgiveness, (despite the enormous forgiveness that the banks received for bankrupting the countries).

      Reading that I am thinking, of having as little as possible to do with the Irish banks. They clearly have not lost any of their arrogance. They still continue to sponsor silly sports so that the leading managers can play macho by getting premium tickets as some sort of untaxed bonus.

      There is something morally flawed in the entire arrangement.

      A state where all sweat and toil are devoted to the maintenance of seriously flawed organizational cultures in both the banking system, and the institutional state.

    • E. Kavanagh

      Regardless of the position of the banking scum; why shouldn’t the landlord increase your rent annually if that is what the market is doing? Why should he effectively subsidize your rent? I’m sure the landlords costs are going up in terms of what he has to pay for maintenance, taxes and the like.

      • EugeneN

        Most countries force rent to rise at about the general inflation level. And many of those countries have professional landlords – landlord companies with thousands of properties. Far from stymying the market the guaranteed increases are good for business. It’s upwards only, but can be as low as 0%. Contrast that with the swings in freer rent markets, you can’t guarantee a return next year because supply may catch up with rent and your income could fall….

        And renters are subsidising the banks, and landlords. In a free market all of those houses would have been repossessed, and plenty in the rental market would be able to buy for a pittance.

        • E. Kavanagh

          “Most countries force rent to rise at about the general inflation level.”
          What is your authority for this?

          • EugeneN

            Not most then, many. France for instance. I notice you ignored the rest of my points. Free Markets for the tenant class, full subsidisation for the landlord class.

            Were it up to me I would force the banks I am paying for the repossess all BTL landlords in arrears.

  10. Deco

    I don’t think that the problem is “greedy landlords”. Many of them are up to their necks in mortgage debt. And presumably they are up to their necks in worry also.

    In fact to be honest, I think that anybody who gets into the business of being a landlord is bonkers. It is NOT passive income. In fact it is an enormous amount of hassle, for SFA money. A proper definition of passive income is a job in a pillar bank which is not releasing any money, and sitting on massive loans. Or maybe a handy job in RTE. Or maybe in the Department of Health (when the work has been outsourced to the HSE). Or even a bank that failed, but that continues to employ staff, even though there is ZERO actual banking going on. That is PASSIVE income.

    Another example of PASSIVE income is the pensions system from the institutional state for heavy hitters. The Roddy Molloy factor. The CRC factor. etc…

  11. user2user2

    Some simple answers: Encourage large institutional landlords to build and manage residential property – we need landlords that are not personally invested in their properties and can treat this as a professional business.

    Strengthen the laws of tenure (especially for families).

    Penalise land & building owners that leave property vacant or unbuilt.

    Bring in a register of both Landlords and Tenants and fix the PRTB so that it can respond quickly to disputes.

    Bring in an escrow system for deposits.

    • EugeneN

      Absolutely. My recent landlord is a largish institutional landlord, and they haven’t raised my rent over two years. Presumably they will when I leave, but at the moment the temporary loss of income, and of a good tenant is a bigger loss than my rent. The cost of a bad tenant is far greater than increased rental costs.

      This wouldn’t apply to a smaller landlord in negative equity, but a business can react more favourably because costs are amortised across lots of properties.

      • dochasach

        “Encourage large institutional landlords to build and manage residential property”

        No absolutely not! Yes we do have a problem with accidental landlords and bailout-funded mini-empires caught in negative equity. They are fearful and clueless as to how to acquire and keep good tenants. But this can be solved by education, laws and tax policies which encourage letting/tenancy as a healthy business.

        Look up David Dayen’s article on Wall Street slumlords or Jillian Berman’s article about Wall Street’s land empire.

        If your largish institutional landlord provides good service, they won’t compete against these ruthless megacorps. My family has already been hit by their terrible service. Imagine the offshore call center: Press 1 for toilet overflow, press 2 for electrical fire, press 3 for flooded bedroom, please hold…

        Globalization and ultimately offshoring the service of a roof over our heads is terrible long-term strategy for society.

        These Goliaths are already buying hundreds of thousands of properties, 10% of some cities, and leveraging themselves favorable property tax policies. Their terrible reputation has earned them double the vacancy rate of average landlords but they can cut enough corners to show profit on Wall Street for 90 days. The Irish government doesn’t have a laudable history of putting public interest ahead of corporate prostitution so we can’t depend on them to discourage the selling of publicly held NAMA assets to multinational slumlords. In fact it’s already taking place with the government cheering it on as a sign of economic Nirvana.

        • user2user2

          “No absolutely not!”

          You make some reasonable points and nobody wants to encourage slumlords but it does not have to be an either/or situation. I suggest that it is quite possible to regulate the system such that institutional investors do not become slumlords and also to encourage existing small landlords to act more professionally (I’m sure we all have a crazy landlord story!).

          As an example of how it can work: I rent a house in Dubai from a large property management company (with 1000s of properties on their books). I never have any difficulties getting repairs done in a timely fashion and my interactions with the company are strictly professional. My rent has risen with inflation but no more (I am probably paying about %10 less than the current rate). My landlord cannot evict me without cause and even with cause must give 12 months notice.

          Your point about the capability of an Irish government to actually achieve reasonable regulation is (unfortunately) well made but defeatist, why not strive for something better?

    • GF

      It pisses me off that not having children means you are not as important as someone who has. Why are children more important then adults?

      Being a tenant means you are a second class citizen, and this proposal to give “families” more rights means that as a tenant with no children I become a third class citizen.

      Possibly another proposal would be to take away passports of people who rent, and are without children and don’t drive a car?

      Then maybe remove their right to vote if they don’t go to mass.

      Adults without children should have the exact same rights as those with children.

      • dochasach

        As prescient as David is about Irish economics, I’m surprised he would suggest this. Making it more difficult to evict families will ultimately discourage renting to families, reduce the number of properties available for families and drive up the costs for families. Ireland has very poor enforcement of anti-discrimination laws. Just look at the number of “no rent allowance” listings on

        • user2user2

          Does anyone know if more mature rental markets (Germany is the obvious choice) favour families over individuals when it comes to rental regulation?

          On first glance it would seem to be a reasonable goal to provide more tenure protection to families but GF does make a good (if overly histrionic) point. Dochasach, your point about families finding it more difficult to rent as a result is yet another symptom of the dysfunctional rental market – one would have thought that a landlord should prefer the (likely) stability of a family rental over a single or shared occupancy.

      • E. Kavanagh

        The answer to why we give protections to those with children is unbelievably obvious. It is nothing to do with the importance of children or the “Children are our future” nonsense. It is simply that in a caring society we don’t want to see children on the side of the road; and we see a value in having children grow up in a more stable environment. Obviously children have mush less ability to fend for themselves. So obviously if we have the choice of evicting a family with kids or without, then you go and the kids stay.

        • GF

          That is a 50/50 choice, which is not exactly a choice given daily, and very few people would want children on the street.

          But your example is Oliver Twist stuff. Every family that is given notice does not end up in the Workhouse; they are given notice and time. They were able to pay the rent so why not a new rent.

          But yes when it comes to ticking kids out onto the smog filled cobble stones then of course the single adult should find himself or herself under a cardboard box first.

          Likewise with the elderly: possibly the same protections for them?

          But in a functioning, western country there should be no need for such protection/interference in the property rental market for segmented groups. Decent tenancy laws, with correct enforcement, along with decent supply of quality accommodation would mean this individual protection for “families” would never be needed because they would already have basic rights and security of tenure.

          My actual issue with extra protection for “families” is that the Insiders WILL put in place a policy like that, INSTEAD of actually putting in place a functioning rental market. It will be band aid plasters on lots of little parts instead of actually doing the hard work and removing the specific need to protect a child from being on the street, because the underlying system already protects them.

          Think about that for a moment. Currently in our country a roof over a child’s head is actually not protected (where the child’s parents want/can rent). Think that you as an individual after renting for four years can be kicked out for no reason. Then, if you have not rented recently, please go look at the horrific quality of about 40% of properties on the market (again no standards, no body ensuring or checking quality). Some of the stuff being given to students is truly from Master Twists time.

          Everyone in this country, including landlords, should be protected by a truly robust, enforced, and thoughtful tenancy laws. No more bandages and sticky plasters.

  12. E. Kavanagh

    The one thing that has been found to negatively effect the availability of good affordable housing are rent control regulations. If we want more affordable housing then we need to supply more housing. It is elementary economics.

  13. Mike Lucey

    The problem being discussed, I feel, mostly relates to the Dublin area not the country overall. Good quality 3/4 bedroom houses are available for rent in other parts of the country for 50% of Dublin prices. Much the same goes for house purchases.

    Its funny that well over a third of a country’s population lives in its capital. I think Ireland could well be unique in this aspect. I’m not sure why this is the case but feel the reason may be similar to the ‘only a renter’ mindset. In this case it could be the ‘get up to Dublin and get a civil service job’ attitude of mothers and fathers around the country to their sons and daughters.

    There is no earthly need for Dublin to be the size it currently is and the rate that its still growing. There are three other hubs in the country that are underutilized, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Cities are now well road-linked with the exception of the Limerick / Cork run which probably will be put on the loooong finger now. Also our rail system is in place (thanks to the Brits) and just needs to be modernized to make living in other hubs sensible and practical.

    The ‘cure’? Meaningful and enforced decentralization, not the half baked efforts of the past.

    I truly hope that Dublin are not allowed to take water from the River Shannon. If an eco system is not capable of sustaining itself it simply must mean that its overgrown and needs to the cut back to sustainable levels.

    • woodsey

      @ Mike Lucey – Change corporation and income tax to 25% in Leinster, 5% in Connaught and somewhere in between for everywhere else, if you want to watch Dublin empty?

      • Mike Lucey

        Good suggestion Woodsey I never thought of that. Simple yet practical and immediately implementable.

        So, a two tier corp / income tax in the country. Well why not? We already have had and continue to have a two tier country when it comes many services and property prices. If you want to live in Dublin, you have to pay a premium.

        It would be akin to going back to The Pale in many ways.

    • Most of the comments suggest more regulation from one source of government or another.

      Zoning bylaws are a problem as are urban/rural planners who design regulations to provide some form of “social responsibility”.

      Mentioned are the lack of highrise construction in cities thereby reducing the use of the existing land base. Anther is not allowing residencies where there is commercial development. foolish. Cities thrive when people live where they work and are not forced to commute to the suburbs. Commuters drive up the price of suburbia.

      Country land is sold with no residential rights (says who?) and this prohibits habitation spread over the countryside and forces it to cluster. Some development is restricted to family members or people who have lived and worked in the neighbourhood for a generation.

      All these regulations are restrictive and add to the cost of housing with no productive results to the community except that the ones living in the inner cities can drive around the countryside, for a day out, commenting how pretty it is.

      Like most other things government(national, regional and local) is involved with, the result is a strangulation of the economic process. Housing is no different with its myriad of rules, regulations and subsidies. Totally distorted in outcomes.

      All is a result of regulation. Increased regulation is not the panacea. Neither is punitive taxation or subsidy in any form.

      • Adelaide

        Hi Tony
        If you don’t mind I’m copy+pasting this link from previous blog.

        (E.C Reigel book “Private Enterprise Money” is available to read here:

        Thanks again Tony. One day there will be statues of this profound Irish-American Riegel, I’d place him above all acclaimed thinkers of the 20th century, Orwell/Huxley/Chomsky etc his critique and solution is so obvious and simple that once exposed to the work of Riegel, your outlook on life can never return to your pre-Riegel old-ignorant ways. Why he is not a household name is a tragedy to mankind.

        • Thanks for the comments Adelaide. Unfortunately the link to Riegel does not open. Can you check its accuracy.

        • Riegel
          “Since we have looked to
          government to exert the money power, either directly or indirectly by the legalizing of the
          banking function, we have innocently fashioned our own subjection from which nothing but
          the correcting of this error ran extricate us.”
          The same may be said for any solutions to problems. If you look to government for solutions to the housing problems you will be under the control of that same government(s) when it comes to housing.

    • DB4545

      Give me a break with the anti-Dublin/Leinster bullshit. Forget decentralisation and move towards regionalisation on a county or provincial basis. See if Leinster continues to subsidize your road networks, hospitals, schools,postal service and every other public service. If it wasn’t for tax revenue generated in the Dublin/Leinster region most of the rest of the Country would have the same standard of living as Bulgaria. We had the cute hoor attempt at decentralisation already and look what that cost the taxpayer. If you want a 40 bed hospital in Kenmare or a casino in two-mile-borris no problem just pay for it yourself. Don’t expect Dubs to keep giving you handouts. Those houses are available to rent because people don’t want to live there and businesses don’t want be located there. It really is that simple.

    • DB4545

      Mike speaking of an Ecosystem unable to sustain itself what about the ridiculous enforced “Shannon stopover” when airlines were forced to landed at Shannon long past the time when this was useful for refuelling? What about set-aside and reps and farm subsidies which has us beholden to Europe? These and other gombeen antics slowed inward investment and the development of the Dublin region to serve the narrow political interests of the country and western brigade. Meaningful and enforced decentralisation sounds stalinist hardly in keeping with a democracy. Let’s have strong regional Government on a provincial basis and you’ll soon find out who pays the taxes and who whinges and then bleeds the Country dry. And it isn’t Dublin.

      • Mike Lucey


        The Shannon stop-over is long gone. I do however agree that USA flights should be allowed to land where they want but at the moment the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction.

        I do not agree with paying farmers for letting productive land go to waste except for a certain amount of eco considerations. This policy would seem to be changing, no more milk quotas shortly for example!

        Why do you regard decentralization as Stalinist? Surely Governmental sectors are or should be controlled by the electorate ultimately? Is this not democracy?

        As regards ‘strong regional Government’ goes. Would it be the case that the western seaboard counties would then have control over Ireland’s fisheries? Sounds good to me as a West of Ireland man, one way of possibly generating considerable wealth and at least 250K+ jobs

        Also Dublin would be looking at building a desalination plant and those are not cheap!

        We are only a small population and Dublin is out of scale with the rest of the country which is detrimental to Dublin and the rest of the country.

        • DB4545

          Marine resources have the potential to be a key industry for the South and West of course they should exercise control over them just as Spanish regions are focused on their fishing industry.
          I’m against decentralisation because the gombeen factor kicks in and it becomes a political football usually to the cost of taxpayers. Look at how much the last fiasco cost us. Why do you think those houses are lying idle in the South and West? They were built on the back of promises about decentralisation. Local democracy works just look at Switzerland or the German Federal system.
          The Leinster region is the industrial/commercial hub of the State and of course its interests will be different to the South and West. Get the West to pay taxes and the East will happily pay for water.

          • DB4545

            Africa is resource rich. Switzerland has few natural resources. It’s not about the resources it’s about how a society is managed and governed by law for the individual good and this then protects and serves the common good.

          • E. Kavanagh

            I’m not sure if Germany is a great comparison. Only one state has less than 1M people (660K in Bremen). The vast majority of states are a couple of million or more. Three states are small; county sized. Most states are about 1/2 to 1/3 the size of the Republic. I’m not really sure if running Bavaria (sames size as the Republic with 12.5MM people) is local democracy.
            The Swiss are a better comparison: 26 cantons; but twice the population in half the area as Ireland.

            In terms of marine resources a decentralised approach (non-Dublin) as opposed to a local approach would be sensible.

  14. StephenKenny

    At the national level, housing, like energy, is a cost. We need spend our limited resources on new technologies and services that improve the lives of the many. Which means marshalling all the resources we can in the direction of new technologies – housing is little more than a man-made cave.

  15. Bamboo

    Great article David. WE should stop calling it “social housing”.

  16. endaoneill

    David I think you miss two key points in relation to the regulation of private rental market under the Residential Tenancies Act. Pretty much all leases are for a fixed period, usually 1 year, but they can nonetheless become a Part 4 tenancy by writing to the landlord of your intention to convert it into one on the same terms as the original lease. This must be done between 3 and 1 months before the end of the fixed lease. I’m not surprised that you are not aware of this as neither are most landlords or even Estate Agents.

    Secondly, and more importantly, under the current legislation a rent review can occur once a year at which point the rent should be set at the “market value” of the property. This, bizarrely, isn’t even limited during the first year so it can be requested only a number of months after a tenant moves in. During the worst times of the recession this helped some tenants to negotiate rent decreases but now it is working in the opposite direction. This has the effect of allowing rents to fluctuate very quickly at the behest of perceived “market value”. There needs to be a more secure medium term alternative to the 4-year “Part 4″ cycle with security of rental cost as well as tenure.

  17. An example of how rules and regulations imposed distort and change the market places. If you want the best results one should free up the markets and not try to control them.

    The worst example and the mother of all interventions is the central bank fiat money system.

    All the proposals for regulation of the housing markets will result in political decisions to the benefit of few and the detriment of the majority.

    Free up the market places, everywhere. (this does not mean political union but dispersion of or removal of centralization)

  18. michaelcoughlan


    |What a naive article.

    You would entrust the same gobshites who made a mess of the place to build social houses which already proved when done in the 60′s to turn into miserable shitholes?

    “This attachment to a type of neo-feudalism, where land ownership equates to status, is bizarre in an economic world where what is between our ears – rather than under our feet – is the most valuable commodity”

    You misunderstand the dynamic.

    The house owner was to save himself by owing his house not become a feudal landlord necessarily which is why he is so driven to own his own patch. There are countless thousands of mass famine graves who bear silent witness to this messianic need in the Irish psyche.

    The bit about the brains is nonsense.

    Look here;

    After all the money he blew on the glass bottle site, the M7, a hugh block in Patrick street in Limerick Dennis gives a proven failure like McNamara a contract to build his new building in Dublin. The two of them are accountants of course so we both know where that will lead because McNamara Arabian consulting fell in a heap too.

    Interesting times.

  19. Excellent post. It’s amazing how difficult we find it to emulate what works abroad. Ever get the feeling that our politicians don’t travel? And if they do, they keep their eyes firmly shut…

  20. SMOKEY

    Having rented for years, there is nothing better than owning your own house.
    Now in m 11th year, 14 more years and this is mortgage free, I must say there is no comparison. I used to manage and live in a 21 unit apt building and I can tell you that most renters dont give a shit.
    I have done a lot of repair work over the years in rental housing of various types and most renters are, in my opinion, second class.
    I always felt that way about myself too while renting, second class even though I knew I could and should not feel that way, and it was all erased with my building my own home.
    And between using my self as most of the labor, only borrowing a small amount, and having the tracker has certainly made it even more palatable.
    Hell, not only has my payment not gone up, it has gone down!
    In San Francisco the “rent control works fairly well, rents can only rise by about 2% per year while the tenant is in situ. Once the property is vacated the lanlord can then raise it up to “market rates” and it is again under rent control for the next tenant.
    Getting a tenant out is also more difficult, you have to have a legitimate reason and raising the rent is not one of them.
    Its not perfect but it could be used a a guide for a rental market here in the future, but I say BUY a house and begin to live. I hated renting and didnt like, and still dont like, many, not all but many, renters.

    • GF

      I think you made David’s point well there. In Ireland we see renters as second class citizens as opposed to customers in a massively important tax generating industry.

      It is very honest of you to admit you “don’t like” most renters. If not a little odd, it is all the same very honest and I think many others on this site and across the country agree with you. Renters are trouble; they don’t care and abuse their landlord’s product.

      They are also seen as not whole members of society because, as David quoted, “they are only renting”.

      What would happen if all residential renters simply stopped renting en mass in one given month? If they all bought property, or moved in for free with family and/or left the country. Imagine if all renters in the country banded together and in one short month stopped renting. Or simply all stopped paying their rent.

      Imagine the power they would have. Imagine how quickly the government would listen to their needs.

      Honestly think about that for a moment. Would they be treated more like customers on their return to the market, do you think the product they receive on their return would have improved?

      Do you think the crash it would cause in the economy might change the minds of all those who “don’t like” renters suddenly wish for their return?

      How would such a move affect the Irish economy? Just how important are these people, these second class citizens, who you generally don’t like, to this country’s economy?

      Maybe it’s time to begin such a movement, I think I have given myself an idea…

      • You may as well wish for the moon to be made from pink cheese.

        We can’t even get people to stop voting for gombeen politicians in this failed state, much less to do something as radical as you suggest.

  21. Mike Lucey

    Most property owners get into the business to make long term money which is often regarded as their pension. Their aim is often the sell the property after 20 years+ and hope to live of the proceeds in their retirement years.

    The ideal set up is for the landlord to have a good tenant that pays and minds and tenant to have a responsible landlord that charges reasonable rent and looks after the property.

    How about if a system was set up whereby a tenant would receive, what I would call ‘Future Shared Purchase / Profit Credits’ for the want of a better description.

    This might work as follows,

    a. Tenant rents house for twenty years.
    b. Landlord sells house after twenty years.
    c. Tenant has option to buy house at agreed discount using his / her ‘credits’.
    d. Tenant takes a share of selling price by ‘cashing in’ his / her credits.

    In order to have this system work some kind of an organization would have to be set up to cater for the group (landlords / tenants) and also allow for some movement by tenants up or down the rental market building ‘credits’ while they are renters.

    Something along these lines might help to get rid of the second class citizen stigma as they would in effect be ‘shareholders’ while they are renters.

    On a side note. This, possible daft idea, reminds me of a time many years ago when I built a house in the countryside and had to pay the ESB for 6 poles and a transformer. It was bloody expensive but I had no other realistic option.

    I was told at the time that each new house builder that gained from the poles / transformer that I paid for would have to pay his / her share and I would receive credit.

    I have long since sold the house but nothing ever happened even though three new houses where built close to the house I built. Then again I did not chase matters. Maybe when I am retired I will find the time.

    • DB4545

      So let me see if I understand you correctly. I take out a mortgage for a buy to let and all the responsibilities risk worry and headaches that go with it. That’s my choice and my risk of course. A tenant agrees to lease the property for a defined period pays the rent and when the contract ends walks away. You want a tenant to have a share of the profits (if any) risk free without making any investment or having any responsibilities for the property apart from paying the rent?

      • Mike Lucey

        DB4545 you don’t understand correctly.

        As regards the ‘investment’ and ‘responsibility’ of the tenant. I have been in the rental business, most commercial, but also a small number of domestic units.

        Having a good solid reliable tenant is worth its weight in gold. I think landlords will understand where I am coming from.

      • Mike Lucey


        I think you don’t fully grasp the idea I am suggesting.

        A good responsible tenant is worth their weight in gold. I know what I am talking about as I have been in the rental business for many years, mostly commercial but a little domestic.

        I have agreed preferential treatment with tenants when it came to sell up time and things have worked out well. However the greed factor has to be subdued for this to work.

        • DB4545

          If a tenant wants to be a co-investor and share risk I have absolutely no problem with that. But if they have no legal responsibility for the mortgage and don’t place themselves at risk why should they have a share of the potential profit? I fully grasp risk and reward and blurring clear lines of responsibility is what got this Country screwed up in the first place. In essence I like black and white not bullshit.

    • E. Kavanagh

      What an awful idea.
      So what about Tesco’s then? How much should they give me for shopping there?

      I see this kind of crap in San Francisco, where it is nearly impossible to end a tenancy regardless of the actual lease agreement. Tenant buyouts of tens of thousands of dollars are the norm in order to gain vacant possession of a property. San Francisco has the highest rents in the US, and one of the lowest vacancy factors.

      • Mike Lucey

        @ E. Kavanagh.

        Tesco do actually reward folks for shopping there! Here is the link, You should sign up!

        • DB4545

          I think if you check out the link Mike the rewards are vouchers for shopping not shares.

        • E. Kavanagh

          Okay then; if we are talking about a 1% rebate, I’d be happy to do that if the property is returned in good condition. On a €1K per month rental, €120 a year would be a bargain to ensure getting a property back undamaged.

          • Mike Lucey

            My suggestion was only a spur of the moment idea. It would need to be teased out a lot in order to come up with some kind of a mutually beneficial arrangement but it could be worth a try as I often hear. ‘renting is dead money!’.

          • DB4545

            I’d happily run with a “return in good condition” clause in the lease calculated as a fair percentage of the rent/deposit and held in escrow. Conversely if the property is damaged or contents are missing/stolen the tenant must be held liable for any loss. I’d much prefer that than having to spend weeks and thousands od Euro returning a property to a good standard for people to live in.

  22. Adelaide

    A few years ago our family faced a pickle of a decision, to continue renting in a location that had provided us with a good quality of life or to buy a rare-opportunity of a house outright in a location that offered little quality of life beyond the functional. Just to emphasise I don’t mean quality of life in a snobbish way, but the beauty of the environment matched with quality facilities.
    In all likelihood this was our first and likely our only chance of ever owning our own house. In money terms there was no logical argument, it was obvious, stop renting and buy the house, the security of house ownership vs the vagaries of renting forever. In the end we decided that our quality of life was more valuable than owning bricks and mortar. Yes, in all likelihood we have signed up to a future retirement of poverty in God knows where. In fact, it is inevitable. But we have resigned ourselves to that fate. And the strangest thing happened. We stopped worrying about the future. We are at peace with our decision. And furthermore, it has made us appreciate our quality of life even more, because we know one day it will stop. But till that day comes we can say we have had many happy years here and hopefully we will have a few more years to go and by that stage our children will have left home. If we managed to do that, that would be marvellous, and after that, well, the future can take a jump, we can only live in the present and remember the past. Crossing bridges and all that.

    • StephenKenny

      Having just finished “Going South” by Larry Elliott, the Guardian’s economics editor, and Dan Atkinson, the Mail on Sunday’s, I think that there might be a little more going on in the UK.
      It gave me the same feeling as I got in 2006, after reading a book by an Irish economist I’d never heard of.

  23. Tull McAdoo

    Just when you think we have gotten rid of the three stooges, Hurley, Curley and Mo, you find an article by Charlie Weston in today’s Indo which outlines how the Central Bank of Ireland are using re-structured mortgages on tracker rates to misrepresent the true interest rate of NEW MORTGAGES.

    For those not up to speed on these matters the average variable rate for Ireland is 4.5% while basket case Cyprus is next highest in the Euro-zone at 4.4% and this at a time “with Germany charging an average of 2.49pc, and France 2.66pc.”

    “The figures show that on a €200,000 mortgage, a new Irish borrower is paying around €2,500 a year more for a mortgage than elsewhere in the euro-zone”

    While the Central bank might feel, they can justify this miss-representation by calling restructured mortgages, new mortgages; the truth is that they are fooling nobody in this desperate attempt to find positive spin. Patrick Honohan the Governor needs to step up to the plate here with a bit of integrity and put a stop to this nonsense, playing with numbers, playing with people’s lives, playing politics…………….

  24. Pat Flannery

    How does this square with David’s pet thesis of owners “equity sharing” with the banks? How would the shock to millions of owner-occupied mortgage holders suddenly becoming renters, register on the social Richter scale? What would the “equity sharing” rental agreements say about evictions?

    If the scale of renters’ panic we have now is “a political failure on a monumental scale” what would it be like if David had his way?

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