Theft Called Rent

As the pandemic grinds on, we are facing the prospect of a huge increase in homelessness as those who have been out of work become victims of eviction from their homes as eviction freezes end as we thoughtlessly reopen.

I fail to make sense of rent (in the lay sense, of payment for use of a building or land). I fail to see the moral justification for the acquisition of wealth merely because the acquirer "owns" a building; a building that he makes no use of other than to acquire wealth.

The land that the building sits on was, at one time, held in common with the rest of the community. The materials that the building is made of were, likewise, wrested from what were, at one time, resources held in common by all members of the community. Rent, is profiting from theft.

An 18th Century, English nursery rhyme.

They hang the man and flog the woman
Who steals the goose from the common.
But let the greater villan loose
Who steals the common from the goose.

The law demands that we atone,
When we take things we do not own,
But leaves the Lords and Ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.

This is not in conflict with the basic idea of "ownership". One can "own" a dwelling, provided by the commons, so long as one is making use of it as a dwelling (or own a store, as long as one is using it as a store, etc), but once the owner stops using it as a dwelling, the ownership reverts to the commons, until someone else qualifies, according to criteria set by the community, to "own" the dwelling. Homelessness only exists because those that have, which to have more and continue to acquire at the cost to the commons and to humanity.