Battle is shortly due to commence over a controversial landlord licensing scheme which aims to improve the quality of housing in Jersey's private rental market.
If approved by States Members today, the licensing system will require all rental properties in Jersey to be registered and inspected in order to comply with the minimum standards introduced in 2018.
Ahead of the debate, the Jersey Landlords Association and the Jersey Tenants Forum have submitted reports to States members outlining their views.
Stuart Langhorn, who is leading the Jersey Tenants Forum, said: “Just like taxis and restaurants – it’s now time for the government to inspect and license so that the consumer can be confident that what they are renting is safe and meets minimum requirements.”
Pictured: The Jersey Tenants Forum says it's time to improve safety in the rental sector.
Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the forum last August, it was revealed that 448 complaints were made to the Department of the Environment about private rented accommodation failing to meet the standards since they were introduced.
“Clearly self-regulation and voluntary schemes have failed to protect tenants,” Stuart Langhorn said.
The Jersey Tenants Forum say that the licensing scheme would enable those tenants who “live in fear and misery” to “rebuild their lives”.
Peter Lucas, Chairman of the Jersey Landlords Association, says that like the Environmental Health and Housing Ministers, the association wants to “promote good standards in the rental sector” and “root out bad landlords”.
That, however, is “where the agreement ends”, he says.
He says the Jersey Landlords Association is “fundamentally opposed” to the licensing scheme, and instead they should focus on “empowering tenants”.
Pleased to be attending the Jersey Landlords Association event on the new landlord licensing scheme we are bringing in. This is a fundamental way of improving housing quality and protecting tenants. pic.twitter.com/1ihmpPqErQ— Senator Sam Mézec (@SamMezecJsy) February 11, 2020
“They already enjoy significant protections under the law, and if we can encourage them to exercise them – through education and support – there will be no need for costly and intrusive inspections.
“These are challenging economic times and the last thing the island’s economy needs is yet more red tape.”
The proposed licence fee of £100 for a two-year licence is expected to be largely covered by landlords and not tenants, with Jersey Tenants Forum even proposing that landlords should be allowed to use their £100 Spend Local card from the Government to cover their registration cost.
Pictured: Peter Lucas from the Jersey Landlords Association says the costs of the scheme are disproportionate to the benefits.
Commenting on the potential charges, Peter Lucas said: “Even if the cost of the scheme is borne by landlords alone, other islanders should not kid themselves that it will not affect them.
“Money spent on unnecessary red tape means less money for investment and other expenditures, which will have knock-on-effects elsewhere.
“Getting the balance right in policy making is never easy, but the licensing scheme is a clear example of taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”
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