‘We must grasp nettle on landlords’ register’

POLITICIANS need to ‘grasp the nettle’ and get on with introducing a robust licensing scheme for landlords, the Housing Minister has said after one Member proposed an alternative idea.

Senator Sam Mézec                                                             Picture: ROB CURRIE. (28721360)
Senator Sam Mézec Picture: ROB CURRIE. (28721360)

In September, States Members are due to debate the introduction of a new register for landlords, which is designed to improve standards and ensure that tenants’ rights are met.

The register will levy a fee on landlords.

However, Deputy Rowland Huelin, a landlord himself, has put forward an alternative proposal for an online register without such charges, as he argues that the ministerial plans, and the resultant red tape, will lead to higher rents.

Housing Minister Sam Mézec, who favours the ministerial scheme, has criticised the Deputy for delaying the process and trying to ‘kick the can’ down the road.

He said: ‘The biggest frustration I have in Jersey politics is that it takes so much time to get anything done.

‘Too often we waste time on investigations, consultations, reporting back etc, when the answers are staring us in the face and we should just get on with it. Our political system has a lot to answer for.

‘I am disappointed that, once again, we have a politician who wants to kick the can down the road on introducing a compulsory landlord register.’

He added: ‘Our plans for a landlord register will finally give us the tools to tackle some of the poor-quality housing which still exists, and protect tenants who are getting ripped off.

‘This so important for helping Islanders deal with one of the biggest issues facing our Island. Our plans are ready to go and our staff are hugely enthusiastic to get out there and help people, but Jersey politicians have prevaricated and refused to grasp the nettle.’

Senator Mézec argued that Deputy Huelin’s proposal for an online register and a confidential reporting line to Environmental Health would not work, saying that the original ministerial scheme was needed to drive out bad landlords.

He added: ‘Deputy Huelin wants us to scrap these plans, and go for a light-touch register, based on out-of-date and inaccurate information on the population register.

‘Also – and here’s the best bit – rather than having proactive inspections to make sure properties are safe, he wants us to have a confidential phone line for complaints.

‘You have to ask what is the point in the complaints phone line being confidential? As soon as an Environmental Health inspector calls the landlord, they’re probably going to cotton on that their tenant has complained about them.

‘Our proposal for a landlord register will bring the regulation of the private letting industry up to 21st-century standards; it will help us drive out the bad landlords who provide homes which are unsafe and exploit their tenants, and it will give us the statistics we need to make sure landlords are protecting their tenants’ deposits and paying tax on their rental income. All of this is so desperately needed, so let’s just get on with it.’

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