Renting over troubled waters: an urban political ecology of rental housing

Mee, Kathleen J. and Instone, Lesley and Williams, Miriam and Palmer, Jane and Vaughan, Nicola (2014) Renting over troubled waters: an urban political ecology of rental housing. Geographical Research, 52 (4). pp. 365-376. ISSN 1745-5863


Urban political ecology emphasises the hybrid nature of cities and the flows of people and materials that constitute the built environment. Climate change introduces a profound dimension of uncertainty in the socio-material relations of urban life, raising questions for urban residents of how to act, what sort of actions might make a ‘difference’ and ‘matter’. For renters this uncertainty is amplified by limited access to ‘resources for adaption’ such as gardens, water efficiency and alternative energy, and exacerbated by poor communication and unresponsiveness from landlords. The built environment, and housing in particular, is recognized as both a significant site of greenhouse gas emissions and a site where adaptation to climate change will need to occur. However, the capacity of urban residents to make changes to their housing is uneven. This paper draws on a case study of rental property managers and tenants in Newcastle, NSW to explore social and cultural processes that are both shaped by and shape rental housing provision. In this paper we explore the urban political ecologies of rental housing through the lens of water, revealing a suite of practices, materials and discourses that assemble to make resources for adaptation, and simultaneously render water as useful, troubled and troublesome. The socionatural relations of tenure are shaped by regulatory practices including leases, insurance and capital investment alongside human and non-human actors. In particular the paper draws attention to the different conditions of access to ‘resources for adaptation’ in the material relations of public and private rental housing provision.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2016 04:28
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2016 05:57
Uncontrolled Keywords: urban political ecology, rental housing, water, sustainability, climate change
Fields of Research : 16 Studies in Human Society > 1604 Human Geography > 160404 Urban and Regional Studies (excl. Planning)
16 Studies in Human Society > 1604 Human Geography > 160403 Social and Cultural Geography
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960301 Climate Change Adaptation Measures
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960311 Social Impacts of Climate Change and Variability
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1111/1745-5871.12058

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