‘Buy-to-let bans to fix local property market’

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The struggles facing first-time buyers in Jersey have been laid bare by a new £295,000 listing for what is described as a ‘one-bedroom cottage’ in David Place. The property is 21.3sq/m in total, comes with a parking space, and has a bedroom size of 2.54m by 2.56m. It is described on the listing as a ‘great first step or ideal investment’ and as being ‘tucked away on a quiet street’.

Former Housing Minister Sam Mézec said young people who aspired to own a home would ‘lose hope’ when the market presents them with ‘opportunities like this’.

Last month, a report from the Housing Policy Development Board, established by Chief Minister John Le Fondré, was released which found that the Island’s housing market was ‘not fit for purpose’ and that ‘ownership is increasingly out of reach for residents with average incomes’.

Latest figures for the final quarter of last year show that an average Jersey house costs £567,000 compared to £249,000 in the UK. An average one-bedroom flat in Jersey costs £300,000 while a two-bed is, on average, £440,000.

The demand for housing has been so high that queues formed overnight in an effort to secure a property at a development currently under construction in Bath Street.

Senator Mézec said: ‘It is perhaps the biggest bit of feedback that we get from young people when we talk to them about living in Jersey. Many people feel hopeless about being able to buy a home.

‘If I take myself as an example. My parents managed to buy a three-bedroom home and extend it to a four-bedroom home by the time they were 30. I am 30 now, with a university degree and rent. I have little-to-no prospect of being able to buy – certainly not on the scale that they were able to.

‘We are focused more towards satisfying investors rather than people. The number of landlords has dramatically increased in recent years and the more landlords there are, the fewer opportunities there are for people to own their home.’

A 2019 report into the Island’s future housing requirements estimated that almost 7,000 new homes would need to be built by 2030.

The JEP revealed last year that around two-thirds of the Castle Quay and Harbour Reach developments on the Waterfront were buy-to-let. As part of the draft bridging Island Plan, the government unveiled several new sites which could be earmarked for future housing development. But Senator Mézec said that laws needed to be changed to benefit owner-occupiers rather than investors.

He said: ‘This might mean tougher regulations like banning buy-to-lets in some developments and assigning a proportion of properties for first-time buyers.

‘The fundamental problem is that Jersey’s housing market is an investors’ market. Homes are too often seen as a commodity. There are too few people in politics prepared to challenge the dynamic of the market and move away from it being profit-driven and instead address the issue of access to housing as a basic human right.’

He added that renting was a ‘miserable experience for many young people’ and left most unable to afford a deposit.

‘If they do save up, it will be for somewhere extortionately priced and frankly exploitative,’ the Senator said. ‘Government needs to take an approach that proliferates the market with housing for people.’

The David Place property listed for £295,000 measures 21.3sqm in total. Its bedroom is 2.54m by 2.56m and the living area is 2.54m by 4.78m. It also has a shower room or 2.54m by 1.03m. A freedom-of-information request from 2016 revealed that an average car-parking space at Patriotic Street car park is between 2.2m and 2.3m wide and 4.9m long.

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