Jersey government urged to rethink proposed licensing laws

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Following the recent consultation on a proposed new licensing system for rented accommodation in Jersey, the head of Jersey’s landlord trade body has warned that the new ‘red tape’ could lead to a possible homes shortage as investors quit the buy to let market. He reported that up to 15 private landlords on the Island had already contacted him expressing this view.

Tenants and landlords in Jersey were asked to give their opinions on how a new licensing system for rented accommodation should work. The proposed system, which would be mandatory, would replace the voluntary scheme, Rent Safe, which is currently used to encourage landlords to meet the minimum standards.

A number of tenants and landlords attended two consultation sessions at the Town Hall and Environmental Health director Stuart Petrie was questioned on the new proposals. Jersey Landlords Association honorary president Robert Weston urged the government to rethink, arguing that more regulations could drive landlords out of buy to let.

However, the proposed licensing scheme would mean that, for the first time, the government of Jersey would know the location of private rented dwellings on the island. The hope is that the register would help housing officials monitor standards by enabling better targeted inspections to ensure properties meet minimum standards and are well-managed.

“This proposal is designed to increase confidence within the sector, reflecting the many good landlords whilst requiring poor landlords to improve their offer,” says the States.

But Weston argues that if landlords are driven out, this will exacerbate the shortage in rental properties. He said;

“This new register then becomes counter-productive because the Island needs properties available to rent, but that number will go down if people leave the industry. There won’t be enough housing and the rent will go up.

“All of these costs will just lead to rents going up, possibly by £800 to £1,000 a year. It is just counter- productive.” 

The consultation on the proposed new licensing scheme closed on 28th June and we await the outcome.

Weston has hit out at ‘landlord bashing’ on Jersey several times and claims that tighter legislation is already seeing some landlords exit buy to let on Jersey.

The last was in March, when the States passed a law banning landlords from advertising for tenants without children. He claimed the law was a heavy-handed way of dealing with a problem that ‘barely exists’. Indeed, research released last year showed that, despite the perceived risks many landlords associate with this type of tenancy, families can be ideal tenants!

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