Local landlords could have to be licensed from as early as next year, as part of a States initiative to get rid of properties that are unsafe or unhealthy.
Properties that do not meet the necessary standards will not be able to be rented out.
Insulation, draftiness, dampness and lighting will be among the items that will be assessed before the property receives the approval of the Department. Once the law comes in place, properties that have not been accredited will not be able to be rented out.
It follows on to a voluntary scheme Environmental Health introduced this summer. Rent Safe enables landlords to have their property inspected and awarded stars, on the same basis as the Eat Safe scheme for restaurants and cafés.
Environment Minister, Deputy Steve Luce told a scrutiny panel yesterday that so far the response to the scheme has been very good. He explained: "It is a way of advertising if a property has been checked, tenants will immediately know that a property meets certain standards."
Andy Scate, the Chief Executive Officer at the Environment Department explained that the scheme hoped to drive much better behaviour: "When tenants rent properties who have higher rating, it will put pressure on landlords to achieve a higher rating."
However, panel member Deputy Tracey Vallois asked whether the situation could really involve in that direction when there is no real competition in the housing market.
Deputy Luce replied that the greater the demand, the more properties that shouldn't be rented come into the market and that the idea behind the scheme was to take those properties out of the market. Mr Scate added: "We know there is a massive pressure on housing but it shouldn’t stop us from trying to wiggle out those who have low quality properties that tenants shouldn’t be allowed to rent out."
Landlords who sign up for the Rent Safe scheme today will be offered a discount when the compulsory registration comes into force. The license fee could cost up to £100 for landlords who have achieved low ratings or not registered before then.
However, Deputy Luce said that ultimately the scheme will save tenants' money as it will ensure that properties are not too costly to heat or have low energy lighting.
When the scheme becomes self-funding, the department hopes to use any additional funds "for the benefit of the people" by helping landlords to pay for better boilers or insulation, among other things.
Andy Scate said that the current scheme was not "universally loved" by landlords: "We do need to regulate some of theses activities, if every rented property was great, we wouldn’t need the legislation. On a daily basis, we see some rented properties that really shouldn’t be existing today. This is a consumer driven initiative, it will be a way for landlords to prove their property meet the right standards and will give more power to the tenants."
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