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‘Landlord-bashing will make situation worse for tenants’

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A STATES decision to ban landlords from advertising for tenants without children will force up rents and reduce the number of properties available for families, critics of the move have warned.

Property lawyer Jeff O’Boyle said a States ban on landlords refusing tenants with children under 18 would reduce the amount of rental housing and could drive up rents

Last week a proposition lodged by Deputy Montfort Tadier, which called for laws to be updated to prevent discrimination against children by property owners, was approved almost unanimously in the States.

Under planned new legislation, landlords will be prevented from advertising properties solely to tenants without family members under 18 years old.

But property lawyer Jeff O’Boyle, of Bedell, has criticised the move, claiming it is a ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’, an example of States over-regulation and that it will deter landlords from putting much-needed rental properties on the market.

Meanwhile, Robert Weston, president of the Jersey Landlords’ Association, said the move was ‘yet more legislation for a problem that barely exists’.

Mr O’Boyle added that rents could increase as a result of the proposed regulations, which will be more extensive than the equivalent rules in the UK.

‘Landlords are going to have even more regulation placed upon them. When the private rental market becomes over-regulated that leads to a shortage of rental properties and an increase in rents,’ said Mr O’Boyle.

‘What may appear to be family friendly may ultimately be bad news for tenants in Jersey. There are lots of landlords who should be doing more to rent to families but this is complete over-regulation.

‘This takes us way beyond what has been considered and not implemented in the UK.’

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Mr O’Boyle added that owners of share-transfer properties might be forced under the new laws to update the articles of association of their properties if children are prohibited from occupying the building, and could incur large legal bills in the process.

Mr Weston said that ‘landlord-bashing’ was not the solution to dealing with the ‘very small minority’ of property owners who do not let to tenants with children.

‘It will exacerbate the housing problem as private landlords leave the home-rental market and reinvest their funds in less controlled areas of the economy,’ he said.

‘This exiting from the industry is already happening in Jersey now.’

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Mr Weston also accused the States of ‘unparliamentary’ behaviour by moving the debate forward from its original scheduled date of 20 March, which denied his organisation the opportunity to lobby Members with their views.

In response, Deputy Tadier said that there would be an opportunity for consultation with interest groups while the new laws were being drafted and there was ‘nothing underhanded’ about the decision.

During the States sitting, Senator Philip Ozouf also spoke out against the proposals, claiming they would ‘not bring one unit of accommodation on to the market’ and instead encourage landlords to withdraw from the rental market. He was not present for the vote, however.

The proposition was approved by 35 votes to one, with only St John Constable Chris Taylor voting against it.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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