More than five per cent of the population of Jersey has signed an online petition protesting about unfair rents. This is the biggest response to any e-petition on the island.
Lawmakers at the Jersey States heard that 5,298 people agreed with the petition for a cap on rents set at 30 per cent of income. The petition was set up by islander Jan McAllister who argued that a law to limit rents is needed in Jersey. McAllister commented;
“Rents are far too high. Rents should be around 30 per cent of people’s salaries. The present rents are causing rent distress in individuals and businesses to close.”
The number of sign-ups triggered a debate on the petition in the States - but with no vote or call for action.
Housing Minister Sam Mezec said in the debate that 73 per cent of low-income households and 53 per cent of private renters were struggling to pay their landlords, with many paying more than half their income as rent.
He added private rents on the island had risen by nine per cent in 2018.
“How many people got a nine per cent pay rise last year? The last income distribution survey showed that it is the cost of housing that is the single biggest contributing factor for causing relative poverty on our Island,” he said.
Deputy John Young argued that Jersey was popular with buy to let landlords because of the yields they received from their investment property.
“A one-bedroom flat has an average rental of £12,450 a year, while a two-bedroom flat is £22,600 a year based on prices in St Helier. Young people buying their first flat pay £243,000 for a one bedroom flat and for a two-bedroom, £396,000,” he said.
“The yields are 5.1 per cent for a one bedroom flat and 5.7 per cent for a two-bedroom, so it is quite an attractive proposition.”
Young also revealed rather than a rent cap the States may look at higher rates of land transfer tax for rental homes.
The committee also agreed that Jersey needed more homes and that ways to build more properties should be investigated, which may entail giving up some protected green space.