'It’s just bonkers how many old laws there are in existence – so my objective is to clean it up'

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PROPOSALS to revive the Rent Control Tribunal are to be dropped while the Housing Minister progresses a new residential tenancy law which could be in place next year.

Housing Minister David Warr had previously described the tribunal as ‘an important policy commitment of the Fair Rents Plan’ – following a series of setbacks in the States.

But he said he would now present a white paper to the Assembly within the next four to six weeks setting out the scope of a new law intended to clean up what he described as ‘the unmitigated mess’ of existing legislation around tenancy.

‘We are talking about housing legislation which goes back 70 years and there are just so many old laws and bits and pieces that every time I seem to lift a new stone I discover something new.

‘It’s just bonkers how many old laws there are in existence, so my objective is to clean it up, make it better for everybody – tenants and landlords – and then have protections built within that overarching law,’ Deputy Warr told the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel.

News that the minister will not progress appointments to the tribunal, which has not been constituted since 2009, was broken at yesterday’s [Wed] quarterly Scrutiny meeting.

It follows controversy within the States over the minister’s proposed appointments which first stalled following a successful proposition to delay the process by Deputy Montfort Tadier and then again after the withdrawal of Ian Gray, one of the minister’s proposed appointments.

Reform Jersey raised ‘serious concerns’ about the independence of the tribunal, after it emerged that the chair of the Landlords’ Association, Guy Morris, was among the four panel members proposed by Deputy Warr.

The minister said he would now ‘pull’ the proposition at the next opportunity, having failed so far to progress his proposition.

‘Each of those debates has raised new questions about what’s happening and how the landscape looks,’ he said, adding that a written question from Deputy Lyndsay Feltham had also highlighted issues around social housing providers.

‘We have no real proper provision for social housing providers and we feel that we want a level playing field for both private and social housing so there’s a lot more we want to bring into the new law which isn’t currently in place at the moment,’ he added.

Questioned by panel member Deputy Rob Ward about the advice he would give to anyone concerned about their situation, the minister replied: ‘The protection is within your current tenancy agreement – what you have signed and agreed to – that will have some teeth.

‘However, I believe that under a new residential law, we could have greater teeth.’

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