Public choice theory and rental housing: an examination of rental housing contracts in Ghana

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Journal Article
Housing Studies, 2018, 33 (6), pp. 938 - 959
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© 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This paper extends both the literature on rental housing in Ghana and the global literature on the critique of public choice analyses in terms of focus, methods and positioning. It argues that, contrary to the assumption that all housing policy changes are driven by internal national processes, in the case of Ghana at least, neither tenants (through their use of their greater numbers) nor landlords (through the use of their stronger financial and hence political power) exclusively influence housing policy. Both parties have some power, but landlords use theirs to change rents arbitrarily and decide whom to invite or keep as tenants, whilst tenants seek to use their power by lodging complaints with the state, albeit to little effect as the power of landlords is overwhelming. There is a strong basis to call into question the public choice argument that it is fair for landlords to extract windfall rent from tenants since their efforts or talents do not increase rent.
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