Deputy Rowland Huelin, who is also a landlord and a committee member of the Jersey Landlords’ Association, has opposed plans from the government for proposed new licensing laws since they were first unveiled.
Last year he was successful in persuading the States Assembly to refer the proposition from the Environment Minister back for more work to be carried out before it is voted on in September. One of his main concerns is the increased costs for landlords he says it would lead to, which include a £200 charge to register.
Last week Environment Minister John Young said the landlords’ register was more important than ever to make sure minimum standards were met.
But Deputy Huelin has now lodged a proposition calling for a feasibility study to be carried out to investigate if a digital register of landlords and tenants would work instead. He wants a report to be brought back to the Assembly in September.
In the report accompanying his proposition he says: ‘There is unquestionably a need to determine the number of rental properties in the Island and the number of occupants in each property.
‘My understanding is that there are approximately 15,000 tenants currently in Jersey (including those with Andium Homes).
‘Furthermore, as a society, we need to ensure that the rental properties are safe and not damaging to the physical and mental health of the tenants.
‘I do, however, believe that the way forward is not to introduce a licensing regime as proposed under Draft Health and Safety (Rented Dwellings)(Licensing).
‘My reference-back was based on the potential inflationary result in rental prices. This is something that, given the already high rents in the Island, I would like to avoid.
‘The Assembly accepted this argument; however, I have heard nothing in response to alleviate this fear.
‘Indeed, all I have heard is the licensing fee will be reduced and delayed. This completely misses the point, as the fee is not the concern of the landlords.’
He goes on to say that if the licensing laws are passed it will put a financial burden on landlords and lead to increased rents.
And he has also warned that it will lead to a reduced rental market as landlords leave the industry.
He said: ‘I believe that knowing the address, landlord and tenant of every rental property is a positive move.
‘I also believe that to ensure a discrete and anonymous “helpline” is a far more proportionate measure to ensure the Environment Department are made aware of substandard accommodation.
‘In the first instant, this must be considered.’
He said that there was a major difference between a licence and a register and believed that if a register was adopted, it would gain the support of landlords and alleviate their fears.
‘It will also support private landlords to continue to offer a great service to 10,000 families in Jersey,’ he said.