Housing Minister Publishes Fair Rents Plan

The Housing Minister has published his policies to 'improve the rental market', including making more islanders eligible for social housing.

Currently, renting social housing is only an option if you are over 50, have children or have certain medical conditions

Deputy Russell Labey says he wants to reduce the minimum age for those without children to 25 within three years.

"What we would like to do is extend the eligibility to the (Affordable) Housing Gateway for socially rented housing.  At the moment you have to be over 50, or have children, or suffer from ill health.  

We want to bring that limit right down to 40.  We hope to do that in the middle or end of this year, and by 2025 we would like to bring that down to 25."

Another policy change would enable tenants to appeal to an independent watchdog if they feel their landlords are charging an excessive amount of rent.

The  Minister has unveiled plans to reinstate the island's Rent Control Tribunal, saying it is important tenants have a way to push back against unfair rent increases:

"There is existing legislation for that.  It has fallen by the wayside and it hasn't been in operation for ten years, and there must be a reason for that. But I am going to bring it back under the existing legislation and ask for that tribunal to not only hear appeals, but also take a look at the legislation to see whether it needs to be - and I am sure it does - amended to be fit for purpose in the modern age."  

Former Housing Minister Senator Sam Mezec has welcomed the announcement that a Rent Control Tribunal will be re-established but says the Fair Rents Plan does not go far enough to address Jersey's housing crisis.

 “When the States Assembly voted against taking action in June last year to declare a housing crisis and implement the Housing Policy Development Board’s recommendations to resolve it, the government pledged to publish their own ‘Fair Rents Plan’ by the end of the year, setting out their proposals for action instead. This Plan unfortunately is a backtracking on the HPDB’s recommendations and has significant flaws in it which will see tenants left unprotected from unfair rental practices".

He says reintroducing a rent tribunal without first bringing in better protections for security of tenure risks tenants being deterred from challenging their rent through the system for fear of upsetting their landlord and being evicted.

"We have not been given the detail we were promised in June last year, and right now there can be little confidence that this plan will have a particularly positive impact in dealing with the outrageous cost of housing in the private rental sector."

Reform Jersey has previously published its elections pledges on housing.

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