New Housing Board to tackle housing affordability

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Capping rent increases to match the rising cost of living, and a ban for some islanders buying homes to let out are two of the measures the Jersey government is considering to tackle the lack of housing affordability.

The plans were revealed in response to an online petition demanding a rent cap hitting more than 3,000 signatures - the level needed to trigger a statement.

Housing Minister Sam Mezac posted a lengthy response detailing several policy ideas his officials are working on.

“The government must pursue policies that will improve the standard of living for islanders, including making housing more affordable across all sectors,” said the statement.

“Legislating to cap rents at a particular level is just one option, however it has shown limited success when it has been used previously in Jersey and in other jurisdictions. There are many other options to improve the affordability and quality of housing that must be considered too.”

Senator John Le Fondré said caps – which allows government to put a limit on rents – would not be his preferred way forward. Instead, he said that other options such as limiting migration, ‘taking the heat out of the local property market’ and delivering new homes were more likely to be effective.

The measures under consideration include:

  • A ban on property investors without Jersey housing qualification buying homes in new developments
  • A bid to stabilise rents by forcing landlords to offer tenancy agreements with clauses barring above-inflation rent increases
  • Building up to 1,000 more affordable homes by 2020

The government is also about to introduce minimum standards for buy to let homes to improve living conditions for tenants.

Nick Dodsley of ND Estates, who is the vice-president of the Jersey Estate Agents’ Association, said that any ban on buying homes would be unfair on investors.

“We think a moratorium may have unintended consequences and the government should not seek to intervene in the market without a full consultation and discussion with the industry as a whole. The effect may also damage re-sales by owner-occupiers.

“Landlords are under pressure already from legislation which is designed to bring in better quality rentals for tenants.”

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