Far-reaching plans lodged to fix ‘broken’ housing market

LANDLORDS may be forced to lease residential properties for an open-ended term and be banned from implementing above-inflation rent increases if a proposition lodged by the former Housing Minister succeeds.

Senator Sam Mézec. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30576261)
Senator Sam Mézec. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30576261)

As part of the proposals, which Senator Sam Mézec says are designed to address the Island’s ‘broken’ housing market, a tribunal-style board would also be set up to enable tenants to challenge proposed rent price increases. Meanwhile, the maximum amount of rent that could be charged for social housing could drop from 90% of the market value to 80%.

Speaking after lodging the proposition, Senator Mézec said he had been forced to bring forward the proposals as the Chief Minister had previously ‘failed to do so’. And he also criticised Senator John Le Fondré for failing to publish the findings of the Housing Policy Development Board, claiming that its report had ‘spent six months sat on a shelf gathering dust’.

‘When I agreed to be nominated as Housing Minister in June 2018, the Chief Minister and I agreed that I would work on a policy development board to bring forward a set of wide-ranging proposals to deal with many of the difficult housing issues that successive governments have failed to address,’ he said.

‘The report and recommendations were finalised in October last year and presented to the Chief Minister shortly before I resigned as Housing Minister in order to support the vote of no confidence against him, something I did in part because of my concerns that he had shown a lack of commitment to dealing with the housing crisis Islanders are facing.

‘The fact that the report has spent almost six months sat on a shelf, gathering dust, without being published shows that my concerns were well founded. I now believe it is in the public interest to force these issues onto the political agenda.’

With the average price of a four-bedroom home now in excess of £1 million, Senator Mézec said that Jersey’s housing market was centred too much on the interests of investors rather than those wanting to buy a home.

‘House prices are out of control, aspiring homeowners are constantly outbid by investors and our social-housing rents system is putting people in rental stress. The Housing Policy Development Board’s recommendations provide a bold way forward which will revolutionise how our housing system meets the needs of ordinary people and realign it to focus on housing as a basic human right, rather than purely a money-making opportunity,’ he said.

‘In anticipation of these recommendations coming forward, as Housing Minister I was able to secure funding in the Government Plan to be allocated to enact these recommendations.

‘I hope the government will publish the full Housing Policy Development Board report without further delay and commit to supporting my proposition to deliver on this important work.’

If the proposition is successful, Senator Mézec has asked the government to publish a timetable – before the end of July – outlining when the changes will be achieved.

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