Windhappers, skyscrapers and students: private rental dynamics in Liverpool

Authors: Leonard Gibbs*, University of Manchester
Topics: Political Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: housing, financialisation, urban redevelopment
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Riverview I, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 41st Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Over the last twenty years Liverpool has been transformed, physically and reputationally, from a city of poverty and dependency to a place of parties, fabulous student experiences, designer shopping and city life as lifestyle choice.

Over the period, three key transformations occurred in its housing context. The most visually apparent include the construction of high rise blocks, the conversion of old warehouses and the wave of new student apartment blocks in the city and waterfront. The second has been the growth in private renting - from under 10% to over 20%, along with an explosion of related occupations - letting and estate agents, developers, financiers and landlords. The final aspect has been the changing uses and transitions in the terraced housing stock, de-studentification and increased concentration of poverty.

Using a range of mixed methods, this study charts the rise of the property investor. It identifies the role of the national and local state in transferring stock and land to investors. It unpicks the complex and risky financial instruments in use, including mezzanine financing and off-shoring. It examines the effects on rental levels and the built form - from homes to financial assets.

The approach to analysis combines Ball’s Structures of Housing Provision approach with an ethnographic approach to unpick the dynamics of rental investment processes. Using Unger’s conception of Windhapper (“a person living on air”) the study exposes structural weaknesses in the financing of rental provision which suggest signs of a future impending global property crisis.

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