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WPS No.50 | Hochstenbach, C. (2021) | Private landlordism, class and social inequality

Landlord elites on the Dutch housing market

In this working paper, Cody Hochstenbach finds that a substantial portion of landlords can be found in top income, wealth and neighborhood positions. One-third of the top wealth percentile – the Dutch top 1% - consists out of landlords, underscoring their economic power.

The past decade has seen a revival of private renting across a wide range of countries and housing regimes. Economic and housing restructuring have enhanced rental housing’s appeal as an investment class. Apart from an increase in investment from firms, institutions and trusts, this has triggered a revival of private landlordism among individuals and households. Yet, few detailed studies on the social, demographic and economic profiles of landlords exist. To fill this gap and understand landlords’ class position, this paper draws on Dutch register data with information on the entire Dutch population and housing stock. Analyses of their socio-economic characteristics reveal the highly privileged class position of many landlords.

A substantial portion of landlords can be found in top income, wealth and neighborhood positions. One-third of the top wealth percentile – the Dutch top 1% - consists out of landlords, underscoring economic power. Although landlords with larger housing portfolios are notably more affluent, small-scale landlords also highly overrepresented in the upper economic strata. Fundamentally, this paper’s findings urge to consider landlordism in class formation and delineation, with a class of landlord elites mobilizing multiple properties for the purpose of wealth accumulation and class reproduction.