By: Klyde Breitton and James Yeun
- Rent is exploitation
At worst, a landlord barely or never does repairs and ignores problems like heating or cockroaches. And if you complain, you’re threatened with eviction. At best, your landlord takes care of your home and is nice to you, but the bottom line remains: rent is exploitation.
Why do landlords think they deserve to profit off your rent? Every month you pay hundreds of dollars to your landlord, and what do they do with it? No matter how nice they are, the way landlords make money is by profiting off your rent. Landlords don’t spend all your rent money on repairs or refurbishing because they can’t. There would be no money left for themselves. All the money that doesn’t go to repairs is profit from your rent.
But why should landlords profit off your rent?
Landlords make money not by working like you do, but by already having enough money to buy and build housing that people need to live in. They make money from your rent because they already had enough money to buy and rent a place to you. You earn money because you hustle: working gigs, working in a store, office, factory, etc. But a landlord doesn’t do that. A landlord earns money by doing nothing but owning homes that are rented. Rent is exploitation because landlords have no obligation to spend your rent money on making your home decent. Rent is exploitation because landlords exploit the fact that you don’t have enough money to buy your own home. Rent is exploitation because you have to spend your hard-earned money on a home you will never own. Rent is exploitation because a landlord can profit off your rent without doing anything productive, because a landlord can make a profit off of you, because you are poor and they are not.
Landlords exploit the poor.
The difference between you and a landlord isn’t that your landlord is better, smarter, or more hard-working than you. The only difference is that your landlord has the money to get a loan, buy an apartment, and rent it to those that can’t.
If you had the money, you could do that. Since you don’t have the money, your landlord takes advantage of your situation and charges you rent. You pay rent not because your landlord deserves it, but because you are poorer.
- Landlords create a vicious cycle of poverty and exploitation
Philly has an eviction crisis: in some parts of the city, over 15% of tenants are evicted every year, many times for no good reason. But no matter the reason, an eviction has a lasting impact on a tenant’s life. It can make it nearly impossible to find good, affordable housing because landlords will use eviction histories against you. Landlords can also overcharge you if you have an eviction history.
An eviction history makes it hard to find any other housing. Tenants with their backs against the wall have no choice but to accept poorly kept and unaffordable housing. Tenants with eviction histories are forced to take housing that isn’t decent for anyone, because it’s better to have a home than none.
Even worse is that each eviction puts you at higher risk for future evictions. Each eviction sets you up for another apartment with too high of a rent and too many problems in worse neighborhoods. People fall further and further away from affordable housing and a chance at digging out of their situation. It’s a vicious cycle setup by landlords to keep the poor forever poor.
- Landlords exploit the poor because that is exactly how capitalism works
Landlords exploit you, not because they are “bad” people but because that is how they make their living. This is capitalism. This is our system, and how it works is those with money and economic power fundamentally take advantage of those without, no matter how nice they are. Capitalists use the profits from exploitation to keep the poor continually poor. Landlords are capitalists. They control all the capital (resources) to keep you from owning your own home. Capitalism is the system where only a few people like landlords control the money, the resources, the housing — the capital — needed by the many.
This doesn’t have to be the way things are. There is NO REASON that we HAVE to have a housing system based on letting the rich and powerful take advantage of the poor. There is NO REASON to base a housing system on the right to exploit the poor. We have every reason to base our housing system on the simple right to having quality housing for everyone, because everyone deserves to live with dignity.