Landlord and Tenant: Housing the Poor in Urban Mexico

Landlord and Tenant: Housing the Poor in Urban Mexico

Landlord and Tenant: Housing the Poor in Urban Mexico

Landlord and Tenant: Housing the Poor in Urban Mexico


This ground-breaking work employs survey data and in-depth interviews to compile a detailed picture of landlords and tenants in developing countries. Focusing on Mexico the authors examine the state's housing policy, with its clear bias towards increasing home ownership, and explores the possibilities of improving the quality and increasing the stock of rented accommodation in the developing World.


Where do the poor live in Latin American cities? To many readers, the answer may seem to be obvious: poor households live in self-help settlements, occupying land through informal processes and building their homes through some kind of self-help construction. After all, this process has been described extensively in one Latin American city after another, and indeed, throughout most parts of the so-called Third World. in fact, the answer is by no means so straightforward, for many poor households rent or share accommodation. It is this issue that is at the heart of this book. We are principally concerned with establishing which kinds of family own their homes, and which rent or share them. What are the main factors influencing their tenure choice?

Traditionally, most urban Mexicans have lived in rental housing. Indeed, it is only since the Second World War that there has been a massive expansion of self-help housing. And, if it is true that the mass of the Mexican urban population now lives in self-help settlements, a substantial proportion of the occupants do not own their home. Depending on the city concerned, up to half the population live in homes belonging to other people. Many live in rental accommodation; others share homes with kin; some young adults continue to live with parents; some families look after homes for neighbours or friends.

If there was a pronounced shift towards owner-occupation after 1950, that tendency may now have been reversed. Indeed, there are good reasons for suspecting that the proportion of Mexican families occupying their own self-help home has declined during the 1980s. a combination of falling real incomes, rising costs of land and materials, and changing state policies may well have halted a seemingly endless tide.

In practice, we know too little about the residential preferences of the Mexican poor, and the economic constraints which face them, to know the answer. We do not know whether the majority aspire to the ownership of a self-help home. We are uncertain whether they yearn for such a home but

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