Digital platforms are reshaping multiple domains of urban life, including the provision, consumption, and management of rental housing. Such digital technologies are inseparable from everyday life, which incorporates how we use and interact with urban space, and the power relations therein. In the UK private rented market, landlords and letting agents hold a distinct power advantage over tenants’ housing costs, quality, and security. Digital platforms could disrupt these power relations by enhancing market transparency and affording democratic participation--or exacerbate them by facilitating surveillance, exclusion, and information asymmetries. Collaborating with tenant advocates in London, San Francisco and Berlin, this project explores how digital platforms may reshape power relations in the rental market. Aiming to foster more socially just urban futures, the research aims to improve understanding of, and help generate responses to, the linked challenges of how to harness digital platforms toward public good and improve experiences of renting.
Principal Investigator: Dr Desiree Fields, University of Sheffield