Against Landlords

How to Solve the Housing Crisis

Author Nick Bano
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Hardcover
$24.95 US
| $33.95 CAN
On sale May 14, 2024 | 240 Pages | 978-1-80429-387-4
When landlords always win and renters pay the price, what can be done?

Housing means prosperity and security for some; poverty, precarity and sickness for others. More people live in private rented accommodation than ever before, and rents rise without apparent reason. Homes are smaller every year, and nearly 20 per cent of tenants live in hazardous conditions. Homelessness is at a new high. Yet the government’s only solution is to promote homeownership.

Against Landlords shows that this crisis is not the product of happenstance or political incompetence. Government policy has intentionally split British citizens into homeowners and renters, two classes set on very different financial paths. In the UK, one out of every twenty-one adults is a landlord, and it is this group, and those who aspire to join it, represented by the political class.

In his radical new interpretation of the housing crisis, lawyer Nick Bano explains how this environment set the conditions for the Grenfell Tower fire and how it means a life of anxiety for the nation’s renters. It is a problem that stretches far beyond London and one inherently racist in nature.

Building more housing is not the solution. It is firstly a problem of the law, Bano argues, and reforms must sweep away the landlordism at the heart of the housing crisis and British political life.
"A powerful weapon against those who think that building is the answer to everything"
—Rowan Moore, Observer

"A devastating, forensic, careful, considered attack on the bustard landlords and every lie, nastiness and evil that they represent."
—Danny Dorling, author of Shattered Nation

"One of the best and most rigorous explanations of how the current system is rigged in favour of landlords and why that needs to change."
—Vicky Spratt, author of Tenants

"Incisive and righteously indignant. With the experience of a barrister and the sensibility of an activist, Nick Bano helps us imagine an alternative social and economic order: a world without landlordism."
—David Madden, author of In Defense of Housing

"This is a really important contribution to the debate and a vital corrective. Nick Bano lays out in clear and succinct language the real cause of the housing crisis, which is that it is, above all, a crisis of price caused by high rents."
—Anna Minton, author of Big Capital

"Essential reading for everyone in the housing movement, and anyone else who wants to understand the central role of housing-wealth generation and exploitation in the British economy. Debunking conventional thinking about the housing system, Against Landlords offers a clear and convincing explanation of how we got into the current crisis, and, most importantly, how we can begin to get out of it."
—Alva Gotby, author of They Call It Love

"So much more than 'another book about the housing crisis', Against Landlords is a book which takes aim at lazy thinking on all sides of the housing debate. Rooted in a deep knowledge of housing law - and its effects on those whose lives are made miserable by Britain's housing system - Bano combines histories from both below and above. He describes with controlled anger how the British state consciously created a landlord's paradise, and how easily things could be otherwise. Indeed, as he makes clear against fashionable fatalism, we've solved this problem before, and could so again."
—Owen Hatherley, author of Clean Living in Difficult Circumstances

"Against Landlords is an incisive and engaging take on the housing crisis, with some crucial commentary that anyone interested in housing would benefit from reading."
—Kate Bradley, rs21

"Uncomfortably relevant ... reading Against Landlords right now is rather like flipping through Peter Benchley's Jaws while sitting in a rapidly deflating rubber dingy and being circled by some very pointy fins ... Bano has proven he has the courage to show some much-needed imagination, while most commentary and debate around housing in the UK is typified by a depressing lack thereof."
—Sean Bell, Heckle

"We are in a total mess. We stole the future prospects, security, health and mental wellbeing of an entire generation in order to create an extractive paradise for a handful of rentiers. Bano paints this bleak, bleak, bleak picture with admirable clarity."
—Keiran Goddard, Representology

"Timely ... will send a chill down the backs of landlords everywhere"
—Brian Pelan, View Digital
Nick Bano is an author and Barrister who specialises in representing homeless people, residential occupiers, and destitute and migrant households. He has written in Tribune, the New Socialist, and Jacobin.
Introduction: House-Price Capitalism

1. The Ratchet System
2. A Longer View
3. The Making of the English Language Class
4. Solving Things Ourselves: Tenant Organising
5. Illegitimate Concerns: Race and Housing
6. Everything Everywhere All at Once: Local Housing Crises
7. The House Always Wins?

Conclusion: A World without Landlords

Notes
Acknowledgements
Index

About

When landlords always win and renters pay the price, what can be done?

Housing means prosperity and security for some; poverty, precarity and sickness for others. More people live in private rented accommodation than ever before, and rents rise without apparent reason. Homes are smaller every year, and nearly 20 per cent of tenants live in hazardous conditions. Homelessness is at a new high. Yet the government’s only solution is to promote homeownership.

Against Landlords shows that this crisis is not the product of happenstance or political incompetence. Government policy has intentionally split British citizens into homeowners and renters, two classes set on very different financial paths. In the UK, one out of every twenty-one adults is a landlord, and it is this group, and those who aspire to join it, represented by the political class.

In his radical new interpretation of the housing crisis, lawyer Nick Bano explains how this environment set the conditions for the Grenfell Tower fire and how it means a life of anxiety for the nation’s renters. It is a problem that stretches far beyond London and one inherently racist in nature.

Building more housing is not the solution. It is firstly a problem of the law, Bano argues, and reforms must sweep away the landlordism at the heart of the housing crisis and British political life.

Reviews

"A powerful weapon against those who think that building is the answer to everything"
—Rowan Moore, Observer

"A devastating, forensic, careful, considered attack on the bustard landlords and every lie, nastiness and evil that they represent."
—Danny Dorling, author of Shattered Nation

"One of the best and most rigorous explanations of how the current system is rigged in favour of landlords and why that needs to change."
—Vicky Spratt, author of Tenants

"Incisive and righteously indignant. With the experience of a barrister and the sensibility of an activist, Nick Bano helps us imagine an alternative social and economic order: a world without landlordism."
—David Madden, author of In Defense of Housing

"This is a really important contribution to the debate and a vital corrective. Nick Bano lays out in clear and succinct language the real cause of the housing crisis, which is that it is, above all, a crisis of price caused by high rents."
—Anna Minton, author of Big Capital

"Essential reading for everyone in the housing movement, and anyone else who wants to understand the central role of housing-wealth generation and exploitation in the British economy. Debunking conventional thinking about the housing system, Against Landlords offers a clear and convincing explanation of how we got into the current crisis, and, most importantly, how we can begin to get out of it."
—Alva Gotby, author of They Call It Love

"So much more than 'another book about the housing crisis', Against Landlords is a book which takes aim at lazy thinking on all sides of the housing debate. Rooted in a deep knowledge of housing law - and its effects on those whose lives are made miserable by Britain's housing system - Bano combines histories from both below and above. He describes with controlled anger how the British state consciously created a landlord's paradise, and how easily things could be otherwise. Indeed, as he makes clear against fashionable fatalism, we've solved this problem before, and could so again."
—Owen Hatherley, author of Clean Living in Difficult Circumstances

"Against Landlords is an incisive and engaging take on the housing crisis, with some crucial commentary that anyone interested in housing would benefit from reading."
—Kate Bradley, rs21

"Uncomfortably relevant ... reading Against Landlords right now is rather like flipping through Peter Benchley's Jaws while sitting in a rapidly deflating rubber dingy and being circled by some very pointy fins ... Bano has proven he has the courage to show some much-needed imagination, while most commentary and debate around housing in the UK is typified by a depressing lack thereof."
—Sean Bell, Heckle

"We are in a total mess. We stole the future prospects, security, health and mental wellbeing of an entire generation in order to create an extractive paradise for a handful of rentiers. Bano paints this bleak, bleak, bleak picture with admirable clarity."
—Keiran Goddard, Representology

"Timely ... will send a chill down the backs of landlords everywhere"
—Brian Pelan, View Digital

Author

Nick Bano is an author and Barrister who specialises in representing homeless people, residential occupiers, and destitute and migrant households. He has written in Tribune, the New Socialist, and Jacobin.

Table of Contents

Introduction: House-Price Capitalism

1. The Ratchet System
2. A Longer View
3. The Making of the English Language Class
4. Solving Things Ourselves: Tenant Organising
5. Illegitimate Concerns: Race and Housing
6. Everything Everywhere All at Once: Local Housing Crises
7. The House Always Wins?

Conclusion: A World without Landlords

Notes
Acknowledgements
Index