Arena 151 (2017)

Eran Asoulin
University of New South Wales
Mirvac chief executive Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, not one usually associated with sympathy for tenants on the rental market, said earlier this year that ‘renting in Australia is generally a very miserable customer experience…the whole industry is set up to serve the owner not the tenant’ Her observation is basically correct and the solution she offers is to change the current situation where small investors, supported by generous government tax concessions, provide effectively all of the country’s private rental housing. Lloyd-Hurwitz wants Mirvac, a property group currently managing over $15 billion of assets, to become an apartment landlord that would own not one or several properties like small investors currently do but rather thousands of properties to rent out. The proposal is for Mirvac to build apartment blocks and then, instead of selling individual apartments, rent them out on long-term or indefinite leases. This build-to-rent housing scheme would of course make the real estate–investment company a great deal of money. At the same time it would do very little to alleviate the current housing crisis. Such schemes are a nonstarter for people who want the security, stability and independence of home ownership, which is a very Australian aspiration that is increasingly becoming unobtainable not only for those experiencing homelessness, but also for the poor and middle-class. Those of us who care about finding a real solution to the housing crisis would do well to consider how we got into this situation in the first place, and then consider how this might inform what we do next. The following then, traces some of the historical and philosophical roots of our understanding of property and their institutionalisation via various levels of government, especially in the Australian context.
Keywords History  Human Rights  Property Rights  Housing Policy  Australian History  philosophy of justice  philosophy of law  philosophy of human rights
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