Senator Sam Mézec agreed the one-off deferral of the annual rent increase with Treasury Minister Susie Pinel and the Andium Homes board.
The minister said: ‘I am extremely pleased to announce this rent freeze, which I have been championing since the summer. Islanders have been through a very difficult time because of the coronavirus and, unfortunately, we may have a difficult winter ahead of us.
‘Many people on low incomes will continue to be experiencing financial hardship because of the pandemic,’ he added. ‘I hope that, as a minimum, this rent freeze will discourage further inflation in the private rental sector and keep social housing rents at a level tenants can more easily afford. I will continue to work on a final settlement for social-housing rent reform and introducing rent stabilisation.’
Senator Mézec has previously called to extend the rent-freeze legislation that was introduced over the summer, banning any price increases or tenant evictions during the pandemic. That legislation fell away at the end of last month.
This freeze meanwhile marks a one-off departure from the social-housing rent policy, which normally requires an annual increase in social rents based on a set formula at the start of every year.
The formula would have seen most rents increase by 2.5% from 1 January although last week’s RPI figures showed a much slower inflation rate of 0.9%.
Lindsay Wood, Andium Homes’ finance director, said: ‘We are happy to have been able to work with government to defer the annual rent increase in 2021. Andium Homes relies on rental income to fund its operations and so we worked closely with government to identify a solution that does not unduly impact on our development and maintenance programmes or on the £30m return that we make to government each year.’
Andium Homes is the largest provider of social housing in the Island. Other social-housing providers such as The Jersey Homes Trust, Les Vaux Trust and Christians Together Jersey have all held back rent increases this year.