Weaponized shelter: a website that lets tenants bid against each other for apartments, in 1000 cities


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/04/pit-fighting-the-poors.html


Apparently this - or an identical service - is coming to Australia soon. Saying fuck this guy isn’t nearly strong enough.


It is not a weaponized service or shelter - it is a weaponized economy. You use that economy at your own (and most other people’s) peril. Whatever you invest in it is used against you. So DON’T.


Why make a final decision? Let other bidders try again next payday! If a higher bid is obtained, evict the tennant! Don’t call it rent, it is home sharing.


I have no problem with the concept of bidding for rent - landlords set prices based on market conditions already, and I assume it’s always been possible to offer more than the asking price for an apartment to make sure you get it (though I’ve never tried that).

What I do have a problem with is the profiling that the system allows; the race and gender information provided to landlords, along with the other personal information, is ripe for abuse in the same way we’ve seen AirBnB and other services allow discrimination. Usually when a person applies for a rental unit, their information is handed over after an initial (conditional) approval, they are either “qualified” or not. This system allows landlords to make much more nuanced choices based on employment history, credit score, salary, type of job, etc: and all of that nuance will allow landlord to discriminate based on other factors and hide behind the argument that they made that choice not because of race or gender but because of credit score or employment history or some bullshit. It’s a bad system and if it survives for even a couple of years, I expect we will see some discrimination lawsuits.


Landlords will benefit in areas where there aren’t enough houses - tenants will benefit in areas where there are too many. It oughtn’t drive up prices - just price them more transparently, and in line with market demand. San Francisco rejects high-rise developments, some people there violently oppose “gentrification”, and build, according to the Guardian 12,000 homes since 2010, against a demand of 60,000. None of those factors are anything to do with this website…


Prentiz, Landlords will benefit. But how will tenants? You don’t say.

I think tenants will lose in both conditions, because in the former, landlords have all the leverage to demand higher rents in blind competitions; in the latter state tenants will lose because Landlords still have all the leverage to demand higher rents in blind competitions, and more demand doesn’t change that.

Plus the whole high-speed discrimination thing.


All that matters is the landlords benefit! Who cares about the worthless tenants?!?

I’m not seeing how this benefits anyone looking for a place to live.


O RLY? That must explain the dozens of tower cranes I see putting up skyscrapers every day, and why my friends at Sheedy are smiling and buying rounds every time I see them.


The problem is only partially western neighborhood NIMBYS who want their areas to stay entirely suburban. Most of those residential high-rises are super expensive luxury condos, a shocking number of which are used not to live in at all but to park offshore money in. Thus they don’t really increase the supply of housing, so people who are well-off but not obscene foreign oligarchs are still competing with the next economic stratum beneath them, and that stratum is competing with the one below it…


Because transparent pricing (which is what an auction effectively is) makes the situation much clearer for all concerned - in other words, you can see more clearly the options that are available. In practice, it will benefit landlords more in most places, because in most places the state distorts the market to constrain housebuilding - often at the behest of landlords and other property owners keen to maintain their advantage. Making the pricing more transparent does make it harder for landlords to illegally discriminate, I would suggest, because it makes it very clear who the high bidder is, and creates an evidential record of that. At the minute I’d suggest many tenants who face discrimination are simply told the property has gone to someone else…


TBF, I live a heck of a long way from SF, so am going on what I read online - for example http://uk.businessinsider.com/why-housing-is-so-expensive-in-san-francisco-2014-4?r=US&IR=T

The issue of investment apartments is one much raised in London’s similarly distorted house market - but again it’s just a symptom of the problem, not the problem. They hold their value well because there aren’t enough of them,and you can sell them. Interestingly, in London, these highest end properties have had the highest falls recently…


That’s always the way.


A couple of thousand people should sign up for accounts and place low ball bids for every apartment to try and drive prices down. If they get in there early - they could effect betting behavior.


I assume then you do not pay rent to The Man? Got a nice mortgage? Or do you just squat in the ruins of the industrial economy?


I’m guessing squatter, but nice mortgage is just as likely.


What does this discussion have to do with me? I didn’t come here to talk about myself.

But for whatever it is worth, I do squat in the ruins of an (not the) industrial economy. But I have also improvised shelters in the wilderness. Once let myself be pressured into a mortgage, and it was a disaster that I am still dealing with fallout from. Instead I negotiate with actual people who I know and have access to.

Anyway, the general principle is that if people prioritize immediate comfort and convenience over autonomy, agency, and long-term strategy, then entrenched capital has them over a barrel, and this is what they can expect.

We can realize our own kind of weaponized shelter in resistance, in the form of cheap, portable housing for the masses.


People are already using AirBnB to short-term rent properties under the table, decreasing the units available on the rental market, turning buildings into grey-market hotels, dodging zoning, bylaws, taxes and regulations.

Does Rentberry verify that the rental properties are actually legit?


A roof over your head with functional plumbing and electricity is not “comfort and convenience” by most people’s standards in this century. They’re necessities. You might have the wherewithal and spare time to build a Unabomber shack hidden in the depths of a national forest somewhere, but the rest of us have jobs to get to.


Yes, with all that extra renter information, discrimination no longer has to be so crass, vulgar and obvious.


I don’t recall complaining about plumbing or electricity. Obfuscating my point to single me out is adversarial and needlessly personal. Also, you aren’t speaking for “the rest of us”, only yourself.