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Petition pushes "rent distress" onto Housing Minister's agenda

Petition pushes

Friday 17 August 2018

Petition pushes "rent distress" onto Housing Minister's agenda

Friday 17 August 2018

The Housing Minister will have to speak out on how he plans to deal with "too high" property rental prices after 1,500 islanders demanded a cap.

The calls came as part of an e-petition started by islander Jan McAllister last week.

Her petition didn't specify whether it related to private or social renting, but statistics released this week showed that private rental prices - upon which social housing fees are based - had increased by 2% in the past year. Meanwhile, three quarters of low-income households are believed to be suffering 'rental stress'. 

"A law to limit rental prices is required in Jersey in my opinion. Rents are far too high. Rents should be around 30% of people's salaries. The present rents are causing rent distress in individuals and businesses to close," she argued.

Having now reached over 1,000 signatures, Housing Minister Senator Sam Mézec has now pledged to respond in the coming days.

Senator Mézec says he will also look into the rent calculation system for social housing, which he says he has always been opposed to.

He thanked the public for engaging with the new petition facility available on the States website on his Facebook page yesterday. As the Senator explained in his post, it now means islanders can interact with the government directly. If a petition reaches 1,000 signatures, Ministers have to respond. If it a petition gets 5,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in the States Assembly.

The facility was launched last Monday and 11 petitions have been submitted so far. Only two have so far crossed the 1,000 signatures threshold, one calling for compensation for asbestos victims and the one calling to limit rental prices. Other subjects include legalising cannabis, keeping a tighter rein on States salaries and Assisted Dying.

In a comment thread on the post, islanders asked the Housing Minister to specifically investigate social housing prices. One said: "All well and good capping rents. What about how high Andium rents are now and how many of us are struggling to pay these. We pay higher rents for social housing than in some boroughs in the U.K and we pay more than in Guernsey.

"I thought social housing was there to help middle and low income households?? Our rents are put up every year but our salaries don't go up, not exactly fair, is it ? some Andium tenants are in the middle earner bracket so therefore aren't entitled to income support. The Jersey way yet again!!!!"

Another one said: "What also needs to be addressed Senator Sam Mézec - Reform Jersey is when tenants are moving from a Housing Contract to an Andium Contract, they are putting the rents up by at least £50 to £80 per week for the Same size of property, therefore, one is Stuck and cannot Choose to move. However, Some people are forced to move, due to having to down-size or up-size. Surely this is not fair? How can they Justify this?"

Mezec 2.JPG

Pictured: Senator Mézec, Housing Minister, has pledged to change the way renting social housing works.

Senator Mézec explained that this was due to the States social housing policy, which sets social housing rents at 90% of the market rate. "So when a tenant moves out of property they have lived in for a while to somewhere new, their rent will invariably be higher, even if they are moving to a smaller property!" he said.

But he said that he is committed to changing this, as pledged in the Reform Jersey manifesto. "This won’t be done over night though, as there will be a cost implication we will have to manage," he added.

The news comes as Statistics Jersey revealed in their annual House Price Index yesterday that private sector rents have increased by 2% in the past year. Statistics also show that around three quarters of low-income households are suffering under what's known as 'rental stress' - when over 30% of gross income is consumed by lease payments.

Meanwhile, the average price of dwellings sold during the second quarter was 6% higher than last year. There were also a 4% decrease in the number of properties sold, with 408 transactions against 424 at the same time last year.

Summary_Infographic.png House price index q2 2018

Pictured: The average price of properties sold rose during the second quarter but the number of transactions fell.

Most property types saw decreases in their mean prices in the most recent quarter, but all prices were a higher level than seen throughout last year. Two-bedroom flat saw the highest increase compared to 2017 and now cost a average of £412,000, £57,000 more than last year.

In the last quarter, four bedroom houses recorded the largest decrease, with £66,000 less on the price tag, bringing their mean price to £883,000. This decreases the price gap between this type of property and all other types. 

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Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by William Boyd on
It is not for Andium to subsidise rents. They are the (albeit government owned) landlord company tasked with supplying homes. It is for Social Security through income support to alleviate low income renters financial burden, just as they do for people renting in the private sector who qualify for such assistance. Getting an Andium home is not and should not be a passport to cheap rents whilst those in the private sector pay through the nose. There has to be a reasonable level playing field and Andium rents are at a 10% discount anyway.
Posted by Lesley Ricketts on
Rents in the private sector are too high and Andium basing their rents on 90% of this is unfair. An island wide review of rental accommodation is long overdue in terms of both cost and quality.
Posted by Jon Jon on
Rents in private sector are not to high,you have to take in to account repairs,rates etc, that includes damage by tenants.All these petitions now are ludicrous!
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