Tenants uniting?

8949165923_4d16093596For a long time we have thought of the private rented sector as the most disorganised part of the housing market. Most properties were let by small landlords who owned one or two properties. Very few landlords belonged to any form of trade association, although around half let their properties through letting agents. On the demand side, most tenants held six month tenancies and many tended to be young, mobile and poor. Quite a lot of tenants lacked familiarity with their rights or the incentive to enforce them, particularly in the absence of any legal barrier to retaliatory eviction. A few localities had established groupings of private tenants, but such organisations were most notable for their rarity. Information was relatively sparse and circulated with difficulty: so reputation effects, on either side of the market, were weak.

These characteristics present considerable regulatory challenges. The levers for enforcing rights and obligations are weak. The consumerist model is most inadequate in precisely those subsectors of the market where rights are most likely to be violated. Command and control regulation around standards relied upon local authorities for enforcement, and this function was perennially under-resourced.

Yet we are witnessing a reconfiguration of the landscape of private renting that has the potential to completely transform the nature of the game. [Read more…]

Keeping up with Alex’s Archives

Social Media Background with Speech BubblesNew for 2013: we’re now more multi-platform that ever before.

This blog has had a Facebook page for more than a year. A small, perfectly formed and slowly increasing group of readers follow the blog, and occasionally comment, over there.

For a while I’ve also been posting to my Google+ profile. But for 2013 I’ve decided to set up a separate G+ page for the blog. So if your preference is for the big G then you can now follow my posts there instead. It’s the coming thing, so I’m led to believe. You can find the page here. [Read more…]

The media and the subversion of democracy

The media, both old and new, is currently under intense scrutiny. Last week James Murdoch was back before the Media Select Committee, making his bid for the title of least inquisitive Chief Executive in corporate history. On Monday we witnessed a fascinating encounter between the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Privacy and Injunctions and four high profile members of the blogging community. The bloggers adopted more or less abrasive approaches when responding to the Committee’s questions. The aim was to explore the ways in which privacy issues are handled online. I suspect that not all the bloggers’ answers would reassure the Committee that the bloggers’ power, such as it is, will be exercised responsibly. Perhaps more worrying was the fact that several members of the committee did not appear to have a strong feel for the relevant law (as discussed by one of the four bloggers, David Allen Green, here). The Committee had an even shakier grasp of what this “blogging” lark was all about. That didn’t stop dark mutterings about the need for greater regulation, the practicalities of which were not explored.

But the biggest and, in the end, most important show in town is the Leveson Inquiry. [Read more…]

We’ve gone multi-platform

Alex’s Archives now has a Facebook page. If you prefer to keep up with posts through FB, rather than through subscribing to the blog directly, we’re good to go.

So give us a Like. There’s a FB button on the top right of the screen or a box further down on the right sidebar. Go on, you know it makes sense :-)

Image: west.m