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If they think it's unfair, they could just... not rent their buildings out. There's plenty of buildings in the US that don't come under rent control laws that they could buy and rent out.

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You are totally correct that landlords have this option.

People who are opposed to rent control argue, quite convincingly, that things like the situation you describe lead to bad outcomes for the community at large. A dwelling sitting unoccupied because an owner doesn't want to subject themselves to rent control laws decreases supply and increases rents for everyone.

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If it's sitting unoccupied and the owner has no plans to do anything with it, the owner is being irrational. If the owner does have plans to do something with it, they have to kick the tenant out, meaning that any additional supply as a result of renting out these houses is short-term, thus just pushing the problem back a bit. You'd still have to deal with the problem in the future.

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1) Maybe they don't have plans to do anything with it today, but they don't want to get locked into renting to a tenant for decades. That's not irrational.

2) No, that's not just pushing the problem back a bit. That is wrong. There will always be owners who want do do something with their property somewhere down the road. If you allow them to rent it out in the meantime (without getting locked into a forever contract) you can permanently increase the total rental stock in a community.

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Owners may evict a tenant in an owner move in. There are a variety of regulations that you can get caught up in, designed to protect from abuse by commercial landlords, but practically speaking, if you own a single building and wish to evict rent controlled tenants live in one of the units, you'll be able to. Your objections continue to demonstrate an unfamiliarity with rent control in sf.

@harryh: your complaint is rent control prevents owners from renting out their property (while doing something in the meantime) without getting locking into a forever rental. For small landlords, it does not, at least not in this enumerated (most likely the most important) instance. As a small landlord, most importantly of a single unit, you may rent it out as you wish and move back in later, evicting a rent controlled tenant if necessary.

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Not sure why you didn't reply to my comment, but to answer your edit:

In the current instance it seems pretty likely that the owner has no intention of moving in but instead wants to sell an unoccupied house.

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Not once have I mentioned anything related to owner move in.

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Well, this assumes that renting out a house has no costs; if income is less than costs over the course of the lease, it's rational to keep a property off the market.

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At the extreme end, one thing that they'll do is become a slumlord - have noncompliant housing that isn't registered.

Yes, it's illegal, and the penalties are severe if the person is caught. But it's an option. And if the current owner is sitting there thinking, "Shit, I can't rent this building out and make it worth my while," (property tax, cost of keeping it up to code, etc) he'll sell it to a slumlord who can make a profit out of it.

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And up to 10,000 units in San Francisco are vacant because they think it's unfair. http://kalw.org/post/growing-number-san-francisco-landlords-...

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Someone could do arbitrage on this by creating a pipeline of "high quality" tenants that they can market to landlords as less likely to skip out on rent or become problem tenants: Ivy-League graduates, employees of well-known companies, etc.

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Rental discrimination laws very strict, someone would probably try to sue you.

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If those landlords don't have clear plans to use the property, that is decidedly irrational.

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Not really. The property quoted in the article was purchased in 1974 and California brought in strict limits on property tax increases in 1978.

So the property taxes are probably trivial. The house acts as an investment with high returns and favorable tax status. They can sell it or take out a mortgage if they ever need money.

Given that burning down the property to avoid a long eviction struggle isn't unheard of, the owner is perfectly rational to decide not to rent it out.

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Which is to say that proposition 13 was a boondoggle.

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Highly unlikely that 10,000 landlords with an extraordinary desire to maximize their return are being "irrational". If you rent out the property in San Francisco, you effectively lose control of what you can do with it. By not renting it out, you maintain control, and you can rent to family, make use of it yourself. I'm guessing that airbnb also is an attractive option now to get around the price-control laws.

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Renting it out to family, making use of it yourself, and renting very-short-term using airbnb, are not leaving the building vacant.

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<cynical thought> But I suspect renting it to family/AirBnB - and not declaring the income - ends up looking very much like "leaving the building vacant" on official records...

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If you rent out property for residential use anywhere in the US, you do lose control of what you can do with it, outside the bounds of your leasing agreement and local law regarding the topic.

Most jurisdictions recognize the need for a person to have a safe, personal, private space in order to have a happy and productive life. It is a recognition of this fact that causes most places to agree that a man's home is his castle, even if he is renting his home from another.

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And if you're fine with the supply contracting further in already-choked markets, then that works! If not ...

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Well, obviously, given that we're discussing rental in a rent-control city, it doesn't entirely kill off rental.

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"Not entirely killing off the rental market" is a pretty low bar to clear :-P

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Landlords have the right to change their mind when it comes time for lease renewal. You're arguing that landlords should be forced to always rent their property to the same tenant once they begin. That's how ownership, not rental, works. Rentals are for a limited time by definition.

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> Rentals are for a limited time by definition.

I know people (in fact, every branch of my family, along with many of my friends) who have rented their entire lives, because they can't own - they've never been able to amass enough capital or convince someone else to lend them it. Should they be uprooted every year (or more often) because someone wants to make a bit more money?

Rentals are whatever the combination of the contract and the local law say they are, by definition.

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> Should they be uprooted every year (or more often) because someone wants to make a bit more money?

No, they shouldn't be, but that's not really the issue. The issue is: should landlords be legally allowed to uproot them?

My answer is a decisive yes. For whatever the reason, they should be able to not renew a contract once it expires.

I don't see why laws should be in place to restrict how much someone makes. Nobody has to have that particular apartment, or live in that particular place, etc. There's always options.

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> No, they shouldn't be, but that's not really the issue.

Yes, it really is. Which does the most harm - uprooting people and families every year, forcing them to deal with the stress of moving and finding new life patterns which match wherever they live now, or disallowing landlords from making a bit more money?

EDIT: s/allowing/disallowing/

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I guess you mean "disallowing landlords to make more money."

Again I think that's a red herring. There are plenty of reasons an owner might want to remove a tenant outside of profit. But again, it's not the issue--this is really straight to the heart of property rights.

Someone owns a property, and by and large, should be able to do what they want with that property.

Living on someone else's property is part of the risk of renting. Similar to working for someone else--would you also argue an employer should have to keep paying a worker who is underperforming (or any of a litany of legitimate reasons), because if they didn't that worker might have to deal with the stress of moving & finding new life patterns?

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Property rights only exist because of the law, otherwise, in general, property amounts to "what you can personally protect from people using force". It makes sense that alternate property models from "full ownership" can be implemented without the world crumbling.

As I say in another comment, when you rent out a house to a tenant, you already lose certain property rights, at least while the tenant is living there. You can't write a contract which allows you to keep them, by law. You usually even have certain duties to the tenant, as much as landlords like to shirk these. This is the same in many developed countries, and the world's yet to fall apart for it.

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In many countries it's quite difficult for an employer to fire a worker, and if they do, they have to provide some financial support to help them, as you say, move and find new life patterns. I do not live in one of those countries, so I cannot vouch for the advantages and disadvantages of this system, but it's hardly unthinkable.

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Ah, but the most harm to who? There are more people affected here than just the landlord and the tenant.

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My answer is a decisive yes. For whatever the reason, they should be able to not renew a contract once it expires.

And therein lies some of the disconnect: my answer is a decisive no. I think there are some reasons for which a landlord should be able to kick out a tenant, but I do not believe that any reason will suffice.

And that's why we have (imperfect) laws such as the Ellis Act, and a raft of other things that protect tenants from capricious, rent-seeking landlords.

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>Should they be uprooted every year (or more often) because someone wants to make a bit more money?

If they are living on someone else's property, and that person wishes to sell the property, and the lease and any other contractual or statutory guarantees have lapsed, then yes? This is really not a new thing. You can't do away with property ownership as a concept just because San Francisco is ridiculous.

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Property ownership is an abstract concept enforced by law in the first place. There are theoretical economic models which do away with it to varying extents, or implement alternative ownership models. Why is it so mind-boggling to modify how it works in one specific instance?

Actually, almost everywhere, when you have a tenant, you lose some ownership rights already, by law. For example, except in an emergency, you generally can't enter the building without prior notice.

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The issue is not that acquiring a tenant restricts some rights that the owner would otherwise have; this is a compromise that the landlord knowingly makes when he rents. That control is relinquished for a pre-agreed, limited period of time, after which control will be returned to the owner, is the essence of renting. The issue is that some people seem to believe that once they are on someone's property, that person loses the future ability to determine how that property is used; i.e., it's not that they have to wait until the current contract expires, but rather that you seem to be arguing that the landlord should never be able to remove a tenant from his property if the tenant does not consent, even at points when the lease on the property has lapsed. That's a permanent deprivation of the core of ownership -- the ability to determine and direct the utilization or exploitation of the property, even if you have to fill existing contractual obligations first, like an active lease.

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> The issue is that some people seem to believe that once they are on someone's property, that person loses the future ability to determine how that property is used...

Here's the thing, though. It's not as if existing rent control regulation catches landlords by surprise. If a prospective landlord is so unprepared as to be unaware of the rent control status of a property that he's planning on purchasing, then he's likely to do very poorly with pretty much all of the tasks that being a landlord requires of him.

In short, the fact that landlords rent out rent-controlled units is proof positive that they understand and accept the restraints imposed on them by rent control regulations. The fact that rent controlled apartments continue to be rented in SF (rather than withdrawn from the market for five years and converted into condos, as the law allows) is proof that rent control is not draining the lifeblood out of landlords.

The insane rents in SF are not due to rent control (how could they be?), but due to the pathological lack of new residential construction.

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Rent control doesn't grant tenants a permanent interest in the property, even if some rent control regulations make it annoying and/or arduous to remove tenants. The person I replied to suggested that landlords should be required to let their tenants stay in their property eternally if the tenant so chose, i.e., that tenants should have permanent control of the property.

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You absolutely can alter the concept of property ownership; to think otherwise is a failure of imagination, historical perspective, or both. (For instance: who owned the land under the buildings at 8th and Market three million years ago? What would an early Christian think of our complex system of interest-bearing loans? Have you ever read any sci-fi novels depicting societies in which property rights took fundamentally different forms? Should landlords be allowed to kill or enslave tenants if that would increase their profits? What if the government knocks on your door and claims eminent domain? And so on.)

Whether you should do so is another question, one to which I don't have the answer.

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I think your view of property ownership is a bit out of touch with reality. It's pretty rare that having a deed to a piece of land lets you do whatever you want with it. Or even close to whatever you want.

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On the other hand, the owner of this building would have benefitted from the intended effect of rent control on the price of the property when they bought it. There's no doubt that a rent controlled apartment building would fetch less at sale time than a non-rent-controlled equivalent.

Sure, landlords "have the right to change their mind", but only within the legal/regulatory framework in which they've chosen to invest.

But hey, "Uber, but for residential rentals". There's clearly _some_ people who'd benefit from doing end-runs around the rules by which everybody _else_ plays...

(Just think for a minute about how surge pricing for apartment rentals in SF would look... All the "locals" moving out to Oakland or Pleasanton while WWDC or Google IO is on, and moving back in again during Burningman...)

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I think there's actually even more to the comparison you've made than you've said: the reason Uber is generally ok, even though it does make an end-run around some transportation regulation, is that the existence of Uber doesn't take anything away from anyone. Taxis still exist, people can ride in them. If existing taxi drivers are losing business, there are avenues they can take to recover that business (often imperfectly). Making an end-run around housing laws almost unilaterally benefits an already-privileged group (land owners), at the expense of others.

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Rentals are for a limited time by definition.

If you're going to trot out an absolutist term like "by definition", I'd like to inform you that "limited time" is by no means a condition for being defined as "rent": http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rent

I know that sounds a bit pedantic and splitting hairs, but if you're going to base your argument on re-defining what words mean... that's a bit of a problem.

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"A bit" is an understatement. You're overtly, obnoxiously pedantic when you reference a single dictionary and ignore common usage, particularly in this thread. Yes, I know, that sounds harsh, but "doing your homework" is a necessary precondition for being a pedant.

Check another dictionary and it's part of the definition: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rent (verb, 2)

In common use, it's always in conjunction with a temporary agreement. You don't "rent (a home) forever." GP didn't make up some new usage to further his argument.

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Touché, though I don't agree with you on the "common usage" bit. People do in fact "rent (a home) forever", and from what I've gathered it's not that uncommon, at least for cases where "forever" is a person's adult life span.

Even considering the temporary case, what does "temporary" mean? 1 year? 2? 5? 10? Where's the cut-off where you've rented for "too long" and it's ok to be kicked out of your home? Even if you can pick a number for that yourself, I hope you can agree that others might have different numbers, and that the selection of such a number is somewhat arbitrary.

I think the fact that all of this is a problem proves the point that people do expect to be able to rent a home for some value of "forever" (or even some value of "temporary") that is larger than a landlord's profit motive would allow.

Look, if I want to rent a power saw from a hardware store that offers rentals, me keeping that saw for a long time isn't a problem, assuming I'm continuing to make payments[1]. If the hardware store finds there are more people wanting saws, and they're running out, they'll just buy more; there's a ready supply. The same thing doesn't work for housing because land is a limited public resource. In SF's case it's even more limited due to the arbitrary new-construction planning process and disappointing level of NIMBYism in the city that means we can never keep up with demand, Mayor Lee's housing initiatives notwithstanding. This is why real property law doesn't give absolute power to the owner of that property. There are rules. You can't discriminate based on protected classes, for one. Rent control is another rule. The Ellis act is yet another. These rules aren't perfect, but they do tend to protect people who would otherwise be at the short end of a very unpleasant landlord-tenant power dynamic.

[1] It might be stupid for me to do so, financially, since I'd fairly quickly pay more than the cost of a new saw, but let's assume that, like housing in SF, the cost of a new saw is several hundred times the cost to rent it. This also serves to point out that owning a house is financially impossible for many people, while renting -- up until recently -- was much more doable.

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Temporary means that you pay a month's rent and are entitled to usage for a month.

You don't pay rent and then come into permanent possession.

There is a (temporary) time period attached to a rent payment.

I don't entirely disagree with you here--I just think you're being a pedant to attempt a "technically correct" play.

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Sorry, and I know you're probably predisposed to disbelieve me since I started off with a crappy tone, but I'm honestly not trying to be a pedant here.

I truly believe that most people (at least who live in SF; I can't speak for other cities) would not consider a rental "temporary" to the degree that you seem to be thinking. Whether or not they should is another matter, but I think the state of rentals here -- especially among rent-controlled units -- serves only to reinforce the belief that a rental can (and "should") be as permanent as the renter wants it to be. And it's a feedback loop: people believe this because of renter protections, which causes them to believe and fight for (and often get) even stronger renter protections, which allows their rental status to become even more "permanent", and so on.

Again, not saying it's right (or wrong), but I can easily see how the sentiment in SF is that renting need not be a permanent thing.

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>I think the fact that all of this is a problem proves the point that people do expect to be able to rent a home for some value of "forever" (or even some value of "temporary") that is larger than a landlord's profit motive would allow.

The only value that should be expected is the duration of the lease. Yes, it's true that many landlords are satisfied with their rental arrangements and want to continue renting (I have personally done several lease renewals with the same landlord, and I have relatives that lived in the same rental for 20+ years), but a tenant should never take that renewal for granted. Leases are usually in 12 month increments, and at each renewal point, the relationship is re-evaluated by both parties and one or the other moves on or alters the terms of the rental contract if he/she is dissatisfied. Is it really that hard to figure out how this works?

I'm a tenant now and I will hold no ill will to the landlords if they do not wish to renew our lease. I do not feel entitled to their property beyond the contractual and legal stipulations outlined in our lease and in the state's landlord-tenant law, nor do I feel that it's my right to force them to rent to me in perpetuity.

I'm more surprised that some adults believe renting a home grants them a perpetual interest in it than anything. That's literally the difference between renting and owning. If you have a permanent interest in the land, you are at least part-owner. When people want to keep things forever, they buy them.

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I think that's a matter of status quo and what's considered standard/common. In SF there's usually no new lease agreement after the initial 12 month (or whatever) lease is up. Most revert to month-to-month after that. There's certainly nothing stopping a landlord or tenant asking for a new agreement that covers more time, but in my experience it's not that common in SF.

You could interpret that either way, I guess, as reinforcement of what you're saying, or as against. People should get the fact that it's always month-to-month after the initial period, and just deal with the uncertainty surrounding that.

But the expectation is that the initial lease functions more for the landlord than the tenant (protects the landlord from a flaky tenant who is going to move out after a few months, causing the landlord to have to bear the cost of re-cleaning and re-listing the property after a very short time). SF's laws are very tenant-friendly, so it's hard to get rid of a tenant even on a month-to-month agreement. That certainly breeds an environment that makes people think that "forever unless I want to leave" is normal.

I'm more surprised that some adults believe renting a home grants them a perpetual interest in it than anything. That's literally the difference between renting and owning. If you have a permanent interest in the land, you are at least part-owner. When people want to keep things forever, they buy them.

That reasoning holds tons of merit, I think. A problem, though, is that the cost to buy in SF is out of reach for most tenants. When a 20% down-payment pushes $150k for some of the "cheaper" houses, buying becomes difficult for the majority of people. It can even be a stretch for the high-flying, well-paid tech worker who has actually been able to put money away for several years.

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In a rent controlled area, they don't have that right, by definition. Rent controlled rentals aren't for a limited time, with various exceptions, by definition.

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Yes, they do have that right. They can use the building themselves, rent it to someone more trusted (family/friends), or sell it. They don't have to rent it out in the first place, so the building never has to come under rent control.

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Yes, you technically can rent it for a limited time of zero, meaning they do have the right to rent it for a limited time, in some weird mathematical field theory of rental treating that as the additive identity element or something.

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It's those exceptions that you glossed over in your initial comment that cause your assertion to be incorrect.

Landlords have a variety of legal options to terminate a rent-controlled lease. Those options are almost always less palatable than continuing the lease. This is by design, and -in areas with obscene housing supply issues- good for society. Housing security is far more important for societal well-being than the fullness of a landlord's wallet.

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Namecoin solves Zooko's Triangle (at the cost of keeping a Bitcoin-like network running). The issue is that nobody's software supports it.

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The support problem for namecoin is being solved. See: okturtles and dnschain.

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If namecoin solves it, the DNS system solves it too.

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Nobody wants to see abuse - humans rationalise it as something that happens far away from them, not something that happens to people they interact with on a daily basis.

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Note that "mental health" doesn't just refer to chemical inbalances or miswiring or whatever else - in a more general sense, it refers to literally what it says, the health of your mind. If you're suffering from burnout or exhaustion, that is not a healthy state to be in.

(I'll note that the DSM-V apparently does not contain burnout because it's problematically close to depressive disorders, and exhaustion is a symptom of a lot of things.)

If you can help yourself, that's awesome, but for a lot of people, a professional who has experience helping people in dealing with these problems might be able to help them too.

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> What makes him more authoritarian to what goes into the article, technically speaking?

Nothing, in theory. In practice, if you edit, they revert, you edit again, and they revert again, that is then an "edit war" and they can have the page locked for a while. It takes effort to make a change that even one person really doesn't want you to make - if they keep it up, you eventually have to go through the bureaucracy.

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> They have a high level of control over their work.

No, they don't. They are told when to pick up their passengers, and which route to drive, by their employers. They may not deviate from that route, they may not pick up passengers without Uber's say-so. They may not decline passengers without being penalised. While they are signed in to Uber, precisely what control do they have over their work?

Additionally, "complete specific jobs over a limited period of time that fall outside the usual scope of their current employer’s business" means that the test falls on the side of being a contractor if you are doing a one-off job that is not usually what the company does, and an employee otherwise.

The point is, a contractor is that person you bring in to write code for your SAP system, or fix the IT infrastructure, or build a new building, or program the A/C. Things where you give the contractor a task, and they complete it using their knowledge, where you don't get to define the specifics of how it's done.

If you want control over precisely how they do their job, and it's part of what makes the company money on a day-to-day basis (you can argue that Uber are selling their software platform all you want, but the service it actually provides is getting you a taxi, not access to its software), I don't see how they're not employees.

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Anecdotally, what you're saying simply isn't true on many counts. On my twice-weekly airport run, I usually ask the drivers what they think of Lyft and Uber. Their characterization of the relationship is diametrically opposed to what you wrote.

One of the benefits I hear most frequently mentioned is being able to simply shut off the app any time they like (while not actively carrying a passenger, of course). Drivers, in other words, have complete control over their working hours. In addition, drivers, not Uber/Lyft choose where to work: They can hang around the airport, downtown, or out in the suburbs.

Drivers are also not penalized for refusing individual fares--only for refusing greater than some threshold fraction of fares offered. Uber. Uber and Lyft do not prescribe the route a driver must follow, either. The app does offer a suggested route (which is not usually the best on Uber--maps in their driver app are notoriously poor), but the driver and passenger have the flexibility to use a different one.

This is how it works in practice, and frankly it seems to me that they are bona-fide contractors.

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>They are told when to pick up their passengers, and which route to drive, by their employers. They may not deviate from that route, they may not pick up passengers without Uber's say-so. While they are signed in to Uber, precisely what control do they have over their work?

Told when to enter in a period they signaled as available, told what areas they are allowed to walk in, no other visitors...

All of that could apply equally well to someone contracted to fix the A/C.

The drivers choose when and where to work. Most of what they lack control over is in the definition of the job, driving people to destinations. (Are you sure they have to follow a specific route?) The main thing they can't control is which specific person to pick up. That's pretty minor all in all.

Your argument about having to "complete specific jobs over a limited period of time that fall outside the usual scope of their current employer’s business" is much stronger, but I don't think level of control over the work is going to get very far.

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The passengers tell them when to pick up. They can drive any route they want. Few driver's use Uber's directions and Lyft/Sidecar don't even offer turn-by-turn directions. Of course they can deviate from any route (passengers frequently request specific routes). Yes, the companies reward for maintaining a low decline rate (sensible).

The contractors you describe frequently have less control. Many have to show up to the office, attend meetings, produce deliverables continuously, complete projects under specific terms and timeframes, etc.

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> They may not deviate from that route, they may not pick up passengers without Uber's say-so.

Come again?

> They may not decline passengers without being penalised.

The penalty is trivial. Sure, repeated declines are grounds for termination, but you really have to do a lot. When I was dual-driving for lyft and uber, I think I racked nearly 20-30% rejection rates on uber, they didn't even warn me that I was doing poorly and I think I'm still a "highly regarded" driver on their system.

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If you have broadband from Sky, you are knowingly using a content company for your Internet provider, rather than a company that actually makes its money on providing Internet access. You don't have to do that here, unlike the US. It's very much your own fault for using such a service.

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I agree that that seems like a bad choice, or at a minimum, one is choosing to do business with a company that has to internally negotiate an apparent conflict of interest. (Or, vertical integration if one has a generous take on the situation.) I am not so familiar with the layout of ISPs in the UK, but if other choices than Sky are present in a given locale, then, yes, the choice (I would make) is clear.

However, how does the Sky situation differ from the Comcast (content delivery) / NBCUniversal (content production) relationship? Verizon, AT&T, and TWC, as far as I can tell, are only content delivery services. I don't have specific statistics on hand, but I assume that for some people in the United States, Comcast is (unfortunately) the only viable broadband service provider.

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What are you smoking, and will you share? Most people in the US can chose from one or two of the handful of large ISPs - Comcast, TWC, AT&T, and Verizon. The Lucky ones can choose between two or three of them, many only have one real option.

All four of those ISPs are content providers - hell, you the Triple-Play is a thing precisely because they all sell subscription TV services as well as internet and voice...

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The Raspberry Pi is a board which, according to its foundation, targets a similar market - enabling children in education to learn how computers work and how to program[0]. It's also rather well-known.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raspberry_Pi_Foundation

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At which point we get to sit around with one company having 90%+ of the market for the next couple of decades until some VC wants to sink another few billions into doing the same thing again.

Wait, why's this situation better than the taxi industry again?

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The thing is, home computing is, for the vast majority of people, accessing email, Facebook, and various web information sources 90% of the time. If the Internet's not working, for the most part, they wouldn't be able to do whatever they were doing in the first place, ChromeOS or not.

Using office-type apps at home is not something that's done every day any more - my family do it incredibly rarely on their Windows desktop.

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