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Housing rules are relaxed for super-rich immigrants

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HOUSING rules have been further relaxed to enable super-rich immigrants to develop more properties in a bid to increase the number of homes available for rent to qualified Islanders.

The changes were made by a ministerial decision

Ministers hope that so-called ‘high-value residents’ will buy empty properties and develop them into rental accommodation.

There is no stipulation that the properties should be ‘affordable’.

The changes were approved under delagated powers in a minsterial decision signed off by Assistant Chief Minister Paul Routier. They were not taken to the States for debate. There has been no official announcement or press release about the policy change.

Under the previous regulations introduced less than two years ago, high-value residents, who qualify to live in Jersey under the Island’s 21E scheme, were given the ability to buy local real estate other then their own home, providing it was done so using a property development company and then sold to someone with either entitled or licensed housing qualifications.

Islanders become ‘entitled’ when they have lived in the Island for ten years or more and have full rights to buy, sell and rent property, while licensed individuals are ‘essential’ employees from outside the Island, who are only restricted from buying first-time buyer homes.

Under the previous regime, introduced in 2016, high-value residents were given the ability to buy residential property that had been either unoccupied or on the market for at least two years and lease it to entitled or licensed Islanders.

But now, under what was described as a ‘minor charge’ to the regulations by the Chief Minister’s Department, the rules have been relaxed further so that super-wealthy immigrants can buy and then let any properties to Islanders who have entitled or licensed status.

A States spokesman said that the move was designed to encourage more investment and development of properties, and to help increase the supply of housing.

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‘The purpose of these minor changes is to encourage housing supply by bringing empty properties back into the market and, in turn, allowing high-net-worth individuals to buy and invest in local properties,’ he said.

‘This supports greater participation in the housing market, as well as development opportunities, and the houses that are bought can subsequently only be sold or rented by Jersey residents.’

The Chief Minister’s Department declined to make any further comment – such as confirming whether the move could force up housing prices or reduce the supply of houses available to purchase – at the time of writing.

Locate Jersey, which is responsible for attracting high-net-worth individuals to the Island, also declined to comment.

To become a high-value resident in Jersey, an individual must guarantee a minimum annual tax payment of £145,000 and fulfil other criteria. Last year, 34 individuals successfully applied to become high-value residents, which was double the number in 2016.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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