Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Leaving aside the fact that rental markets already have a highly asymmetric power dynamic, landlords in the UK already do have a de-facto mechanism for assessing tenants in the form of landlord references. They can also perform various financial checks, such as employer references, or asking for a guarantor.

On the other hand, I rent in London and do not even know the name of our landlord. He/she operates through various limited companies and an agent. I can infer it through Companies House but that option wouldn't have been available before we put down our holding deposit.




> Leaving aside the fact that rental markets already have a highly asymmetric power dynamic, landlords in the UK already do have a de-facto mechanism for assessing tenants in the form of landlord references. They can also perform various financial checks, such as employer references, or asking for a guarantor.

These are just things they ask for though - there's no special legal power they have to ask for them - you could also ask for the same things from your prospective landlord if you wanted to, and you'd have the same information.

They'd probably decline to provide them and refuse to rent to you, in the same way as you can decline to provide them and refuse to rent from them.


> They'd probably decline to provide them, in the same way as you can decline to provide them.

The consequences of declining are very different for both parties. The landlord moves on to literally any other prospect because everyone else will provide that information. The tenant can move on to only slumlords, who will not insist on a credit/criminal background/reference check. Or they can be homeless.


> The consequences of declining are very different for both parties.

Right this is the power asymmetry we already mentioned.


I think that's really more a function of what slant the market is currently in, ie, renter's or landlord's market.

If there were a glut of apartments compared to renters, the desperateness would be reversed.


And that is the case in exactly which places? I'm not saying that doesn't exist, but I'd be surprised to find that it's a common situation. But hey, find some stats and change my mind :)


What would the desperateness of the landlords look like, I wonder?


A willingness to waive references, fees, et cetera for any halfway decent looking tenant. I've benefited from that in the past.


>They'd probably decline to provide them and refuse to rent to you, in the same way as you can decline to provide them and refuse to rent from them.

Well... yeah exactly. You realistically don't have the option to ask for a reference about them and you can't simply refuse to rent from them because you need shelter and 99% of people won't went to you if you don't play ball.

Changes in favour of tenants are being proposed because in reality there is a problematic power dynamic. You can discuss whatever fanciful hypothetical you like to insist it is somehow not the case "legally" but reality tells a story that you can't ignore.


Most, if not all, the changes currently made supposedly in favour of tenants are made for political purposes, not to actually solve any issues.

The market is very hot in places like London. This makes tenants 'unhappy'. In turn this makes the government propose ill-thought measures for political gains.

These measures tend to decrease supply (since they all hit on landlords) when they should increase supply with a disproportionate focus on "rogue landlords".

That's with a Tory government. Labour's current view is the hard-left and thus private landlords are to be hit as a matter of ideology...


If they wanted to fix the problem then they'd tax capital gains at the same rate as income and would eliminate all of the other tax benefits related to owning a second (or third) home.

It was common 20 years ago for people in their mid-forties to use the massive equity in their home to buy multiple properties for the rental market. House prices at the time were growing so they not only had someone else basically buy their house over 25 years they also profited greatly from the inflation in house prices. With the increase in prices they could increase the rent so the whole thing is a triple-whammy.

This didn't happen as much in other countries because other countries reduced the tax benefits for this scenario.


> If they wanted to fix the problem then they'd tax capital gains at the same rate as income

That's again trying to limit supply because that's obviously reducing profitability.

We need to increase supply, or decrease demand, or both. Nothing is done on this.


> If they wanted to fix the problem then they'd tax capital gains at the same rate as income ...

That idea is so bad that not even the governments of the world, money grubbers though they are, have signed up for it. It would create a world where no capital was for sale; any path from going from low-mid to mid-high income (apart from entrepreneurship) would be closed off and a whole bunch of new 'unrealted' problems would turn up because purchasing power would be diverted away from people who care about the future to people who consume in the present.

Capital gains is a wealth creation engine whereby people voluntarily choose not consume in order to create things that other people want. There is a pretty decent philosophical case for not taxing capital gains full stop. There is probably a great reason why in practice it would not work, but as a principle it is like corporate tax - disincentivizing and de-emphasizing people who would otherwise give their resources to others.

If you want to wage class warfare, consider inheritance or land taxes. My personal preference would be to go one step more subtle and wind back the bail-outs and money printing. Capital Gains taxes are not the lever we need, the risk of collateral damage to the investment ecosystem is too high and by the time the damage is obvious enough to unwind a change we'll be 10 years in and facing a dearth of long term planning.


I am not a renter any more (bought a home several years ago) , and it may be different in Large cities but when I was renting I most definitely had more power than the LandLord. There was more vacancy than tenants, and properties where falling over themselves to get someone with a High Credit Score (me) into a unit. Offer all kinds of Deals, give aways, and would answer any question I asked including tenant references.

This was in a city of about 250,000 people so not a small town, but not a large metro like London or New York either.


GP posted:

> Leaving aside the fact that rental markets already have a highly asymmetric power dynamic

You responded:

> They'd probably decline to provide them and refuse to rent to you, in the same way as you can decline to provide them and refuse to rent from them.

This sounds like the definition of an asymmetric power difference to me. Sure, I can refuse to provide financial checks or a guarantor, but that only hurts me. Asking for that information from my landlord also only hurts me as a landlord is likely to avoid me (and tell the other landlords he knows) and go with someone more compliant.


Yes... my comment was made ignoring the asymmetric power, as GP said. I quoted that bit myself.


That's what makes it asymmetric. You need a place to live and need them. They have ample supply of renters that won't ask questions, they don't need you.


Yes but the person I was replying to said

> Leaving aside the fact that rental markets already have a highly asymmetric power dynamic


> These are just things they ask for though - there's no special legal power they have to ask for them - you could also ask for the same things from your prospective landlord if you wanted to, and you'd have the same information.

You could ask, but there's zero chance they'd give them to you in this market.


There’s not a single landlord who will rent without a background check. Your options are be homeless or submit. The landlords options in response to your demand are rent to one of the dozens of other people who want to rent from them or submit. Not exactly the same choice.




Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: