Reducing social-housing rent cap would ‘leave fewer households in rental stress’

SOCIAL-housing rents could be capped at 80% of the market rate, if an amendment lodged by a former Housing Minister is approved.

Senator Sam Mézec
Senator Sam Mézec

Senator Sam Mézec wants to see a 10% reduction in the current policy, which involves rents being capped at 90% of the market rate, and is seeking to amend the proposed Government Plan.

‘When social-housing rents are set so close to the market rate, you cannot really claim it is social housing any more,’ Senator Mézec said.

He explained that his party – Reform Jersey – promised during their 2018 election campaign to change social-housing rental policy, ‘because we believed that setting rents so close to the market rate was putting tenants into rental stress and possibly contributing to inflation in the private sector’.

In the report accompanying his amendment, Senator Mézec said the change would be achieved by reducing the financial return that social-housing provider Andium Homes offered to the Treasury, ‘so that their [Andium’s] planned development programme will not be disrupted’.

Andium agreed a further rent freeze for its tenants this year, offering a one-off deferral of rent increases. Senator Mézec said: ‘As Housing Minister I froze Andium rents twice and introduced a cap on rent increases, which has effectively broken the current policy and de facto disconnected current rents from the 90% target. This means we have an excellent opportunity to realign the rents policy now.’

He added: ‘The effect of capping rents at 80% of the market rate now would mean a prolonged rent freeze for hundreds of social-housing tenants to enable their rent to fall down in value over time. This would leave fewer households in rental stress.’

The Government Plan 2022-25 is scheduled to be debated on 14 December.

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