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'Sorry' social housing provider says short-notice hikes won't happen again

'Sorry' social housing provider says short-notice hikes won't happen again

Tuesday 28 March 2023

'Sorry' social housing provider says short-notice hikes won't happen again

Tuesday 28 March 2023


A social housing provider which came under fire for giving tenants just three weeks' notice about a 9% rent rise earlier this month has agreed to delay the increase until July - and says they new procedures will be put in place so short-notice hikes don't happen again.

Announcing the news today, Jersey Homes Trust Chair Philip Le Cornu apologised to tenants for the initial short-notice hike - originally due to come into force on 1 April - and admitted that the communication was "less than adequate" and "well below the standard which they deserve".

Procedures are now also being established "to ensure that there is no repetition of the events of the past two weeks."

Many tenants expressed their shock and dismay at the sudden rise announced earlier this month - among them, 51-year-old Richard Hardy, who said he might have to sell his car to cope with what he described as an "astronomical" increase.

Members of Reform Jersey wrote to the Housing and Social Security Ministers seeking "a better way forward" to "ensure JHT tenants are proactively engaged with to support them through any potential rent increase."

Housing Minister David Warr then stepped in to request a one-month delay. He said this would "offer JHT tenants more time to get financial arrangements put in place" and "discuss their individual circumstances with JHT so that appropriate payment plans can be established."

The JHT agreed - and today have said they've now decided to delay the rise even further.

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Pictured: Housing Minister David Warr intervened to secure the initial one-month delay.

Mr Le Cornu said: "We initially delayed implementing the annual rental increase by one month. However, after further consideration, Trustees decided to extend this period by a further two months which will give tenants additional time to plan for the change.

"The increase will now be implemented in July and subsequent rent reviews will take place annually in July.

"New procedures are being put in place to ensure that there is no repetition of the events of the past two weeks."

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Pictured: residents criticised JHT for implementing the increase at short notice and during a cost-of-living crisis.

Mr Le Cornu added: "Our communication with our tenants concerning the rent increase was less than adequate and well below the standard which they deserve. My Trustees and I would like to apologise to them and their families for the short notice and we will ensure that this does not happen again."

He added: "Over the last two weeks it has become apparent that our tenants are unaware of the reasons why JHT rent reviews and other aspects of the Trust's work differ from those of other social rented housing providers in the Island. We are taking this opportunity to explain fully these differences to them."

Last week, Social Security Minister Elaine Millar responded to a second written question on the issue, this time from Deputy Lyndsay Feltham.

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Pictured: Social Security Minister Elaine Millar said she was not consulted or notified ahead of the announcement about the rent increase.

Deputy Millar said that she was also "concerned to learn about the increase" and "grateful" to Deputy Warr for obtaining the one-month delay.

She further revealed that while the Government has a rent review agreement with Andium Homes and there is a "well-established route for annual rent rises on Andium properties to be confirmed with the Housing Minister" and advised in advance to the CLS department, the government does not have rent review agreements with other social housing providers – such as Jersey Homes Trust.

The response added: "The Minister for Social Security is not involved in this process, and therefore was not consulted or notified ahead of the recent JHT announcement."

A meeting with JHT representatives has now been requested by Deputy Mézec, on behalf of Reform Jersey, to discuss "a better way forward" regarding engaging with tenants, supporting them through potential rent increases, and the transparency of the rent review process.

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