Former Housing Minister Lodges Proposals to Address the ‘Housing Affordability Crisis’ in the Rental Market
Reform Jersey leader, Senator Sam Mézec, has lodged a proposition calling for the States Assembly to declare a ‘Housing Affordability Crisis’ and implement measures which will address affordability for rental housing.
The proposition asks the government to:
- Legislate to enhance security of tenure for tenants, including by making tenancies open-ended as standard practice
- Ban above-inflation rent increases, and set up a Rent Tribunal
- Cut social housing rents from 90% of the market rate to 80%
The proposals reflect some of the recommendations made in the Housing Policy Development Board which has not yet been published, despite being presented to the Chief Minister in October last year.
Senator Mézec said - “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 alongside others 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.
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, 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 6 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.
Jersey’s housing market is broken. It works too much in the interests of investors, rather than people who need 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. 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.”
THE STATES are asked to decide whether they are of opinion
- That there exists a housing affordability crisis in Jersey, and that in order to deal with this situation –
(a) Legislation should be introduced to enhance security of tenure and tenants’ rights to provide for ‘open ended’ tenancies as standard practice;
(b) Rent stabilisation legislation and a Rent Commission/ Board to monitor and decide on annual rent increases should be introduced;
(c) The social housing rent setting should be reduced from charging rents of up to 90% of the market rate, to charging up to 80% of the market rate;
(d) The annual financial return provided by Andium Homes to the Treasury should be amended in the Government Plan 2022-25 to enable this change in rents policy without negatively impacting on their housing development programme; and
(e) request the Council of Ministers to produce a timetable for achieving these changes by no later than the end of July 2021.