Comparative Property Law and the Pandemic: Vulnerability Theory and Resilient Property in an Age of Crises

69 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2022

See all articles by Marc Lane Roark

Marc Lane Roark

University of Tulsa College of Law; University of Pretoria, S.A.; The Savannah Law School

Lorna Fox

University of Essex - School of Law

Date Written: July 19, 2022


Political and property crises present vital new questions for property theorists, and analyses of state responses to these crises cast new light on how property systems, and property law, adapt and evolve to meet complex challenges—while remaining institutionally resilient themselves. The novel coronavirus pandemic was an extreme, exceptional, unexpected, significant “shock” event, with financial, economic, social, cultural, and political impacts on a scale not experienced since at least the 1930s. The pandemic posed an unexpected, unpredictable, and urgent threat to human life that demanded immediate action, delivered under intense public scrutiny. The challenges were “wicked”: governments were compelled to act, in conditions of uncertainty and in response to a complex set of high-stakes problems, with imperfect information about the impacts of policy choices or the likely endpoint of the pandemic.

In acting swiftly to protect their populations, governments adopted radical strategies to shore up housing and home, to tackle street homelessness, and to protect tenants and mortgagors from the threat of eviction. Perhaps most notably, pandemic policies to protect housing intervened with private property law in ways that were unimaginable before spring 2020. In this Article, we examine the range of ways that governments adapted their approaches to property, housing, and homelessness during the pandemic. We analyze the adaptation of property rules in the pandemic using the new theoretical and methodological framework of “Resilient Property.” We consider the implications of the actions to adjust the laws and policies that govern property, housing, eviction, and homelessness, and reflect on the legacies of these actions for property theories and property law.

Keywords: Housing, Eviction, Property, Scale, Resiliency, Vulnerability Theory, Resilient Property Theory, Pandemic, COVID19, Moratorium, scale, state

Suggested Citation

Roark, Marc L. and Fox, Lorna, Comparative Property Law and the Pandemic: Vulnerability Theory and Resilient Property in an Age of Crises (July 19, 2022). Louisiana Law Review, Vol. 82, No. 3, 2022, Available at SSRN:

Marc L. Roark (Contact Author)

University of Tulsa College of Law ( email )

3120 E. Fourth Place
Tulsa, OK 74104
United States
918 631 5622 (Phone)
918 631 2194 (Fax)

University of Pretoria, S.A. ( email )

Private Bag X20
Hatfield 0028
South Africa

The Savannah Law School ( email )

516 Drayton Street
Savannah, GA 31401
United States

Lorna Fox

University of Essex - School of Law ( email )

Colchester, Essex CO43SQ
United Kingdom

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