TIL that an astonishing (to me) 1 in every 21 adults in the UK is a landlord.

The article I learned that from has made me question my thinking a bit. Previously I’d assumed that the broken UK housing market is essentially a problem of supply and that we should basically get over our NIMBYism and build, build, build. That still feels like it would be a good idea, and actually attracts mainstream political support these days, at least to some extent.

But apparently the statistical evidence isn’t tremendously in favour of this being the only, or perhaps even primary, problem. The ratio homes to households has actually grown over the past 25 years. And it’s not an especially bad ratio compared to other countries, the UK having about the average homes per capita for an OECD country, 468 per 1000 people in 2019.

So perhaps a large part of it is also a problem of legislation. Houses are simply getting into the hands of the wrong people. If so, then the argument goes that what we really need is some far less friendly policies when it comes to (private) landlordism.

It’s not clear to me that people’s homes should really ever be investment vehicles. They should be high quality, decent and healthful to live in. That may not be compatible with unbridled capitalism in a country of great economic inequality.