In the United States, the rule of law has always had property rights as its lodestar, with private property serving as the central legal interest that requires protection. Attending to our history reveals the dangers and paradoxical nature of this property-first conception of the rule of law.
Understanding the law’s role in the project of Israeli colonization requires examining how distinct legal frameworks applied across a legally fragmented space can nevertheless share a common defining logic. One manifestation of this shared logic becomes evident by scrutinizing claims to land adjudicated by Israeli courts: Israeli state agencies and Jewish settler groups are treated as presumptively proper claimants of property while non-Jewish Palestinians are treated, at best, as dwellers who are not entitled to claim property but merely inhabit the land at the sufferance of Israeli authorities.
To understand what’s at stake in the fight for rent cancellation, we first need to understand the significance of rent. In the US, rent is the vehicle for a wealth transfer from the poorest third of the population to a mere 7% of US residents and a relatively small number of corporate entities. The mom-and-pop landlords that make up that 7% face more precarity than their corporate counterparts, underlining the importance of COVID-19 mortgage cancellation. But many tenants live one paycheck away from homelessness, representing a far greater and more vulnerable segment of the population.
The argument goes that cash benefits, such as UBI, afford recipients the dignity to choose what they need, versus in-kind benefits which paternalistically define that need for them. By removing government restrictions on spending, they allow recipients the freedom to consume on their terms. However, this so-called choice is in name only without a guarantee that basic needs will be met. The context of housing provides one example of this. The reality of cash benefits is that even where choice is not restricted by the state, it remains restricted by the failures of the market.
The Bristol Rent Strike, which now has over 1900 students pledging to withhold rent, is one of the many ongoing student strikes across the UK. Over the past few months, students at roughly 20 universities including Manchester, Oxford, and Cambridge have organized mass rent strikes, demanding overall reductions in rent, no-penalty contract releases, and better accommodation conditions. But one significant obstacle stands in their way: Many of these students live in financialized student housing—in buildings owned not by universities but by multi-million-dollar corporations. The financialization of student housing has fundamentally altered the relationship between universities and students and, in so doing, has complicated student resistance against housing injustice.
Ashley Burke explains how housing organizers and community activists can use the MMT framework as one tool to make their dream a reality.
When James Grimmelmann, Jeremy Sheff, Mike Grynberg, Steve Clowney and I decided to write an open source property casebook that could be shared freely with students, one of the benefits was the ability to teach the material in ways that made sense to us. The mortgage chapter, for example, is actually the “foreclosure” chapter: it…
New York City recently became the first jurisdiction in the United States to guarantee a right to counsel for poor people at risk of eviction. This was an important step in the fight for equal access to the courts, and a significant victory for tenant advocates who had waged a decades-long campaign to ensure fairness…