Rather than viewing neighbourhood decline as a natural process resulting from the in-flow of low-income households, this study uses a socio-spatial approach that looks at
the structuration of neighbourhood decline by emphasising the power of agents/actors, linking the structure of the real estate industry to the development of the neighbourhood. Landlords and
banks are not merely automata of the price mechanism that steer the natural operation of the market, but should be seen as intentionally and unintentionally restructuring the local real estate market and thus possibly producing, or contributing to, processes of neighbourhood decline.
This paper presents the Tarwewijk (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) as a case study of neighbourhood decline. Attention is paid to the social and physical decline of the neighbourhood, drug dealing, undocumented immigrants and processes impacting the housing market such as speculation, blockbusting, milking and redlining. It is argued that the retreat of ‘formal’ actors, such as banks and bona fide landlords, stimulates the rise of the underworld in both the housing and drugs markets.