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Reform Jersey makes push to stop "exploitative" rent practices

Reform Jersey makes push to stop

Wednesday 12 April 2023

Reform Jersey makes push to stop "exploitative" rent practices

Wednesday 12 April 2023

Reform Jersey's leader has proposed a host of rent control measures in an attempt to “see the most exploitative practices in the rental market effectively outlawed” — including banning rent increases within the first three years of a tenancy.

Deputy Sam Mézec's proposals include a form of rent control, a move to open-ended tenancies, and the establishment of a body for both landlords and tenants to resolve disputes.

The proposition is based on Reform Jersey's 'Housing Crisis Action Plan', which was published during the 2022 election campaign.

In his proposition, Deputy Mézec brands the current system of a lack of any rent regulation as a “catastrophe for renters”, as well as “having a harmful macro-economic impact on the whole island”.

Describing the "severe housing crisis" in the island, Deputy Mézec said that "rents are going up and tenants are being pushed closer to the breadline because of the failure of the States of Jersey to act."

"Young people are constantly citing the cost of housing as a key reason for why they are considering leaving Jersey, and businesses are facing severe recruitment and retention difficulties," he added.


Pictured: Deputy Sam Mézec was a former Housing Minister.

The Reform party leader explained: "Last year the government opposed a Reform Jersey proposal to freeze rents, and instead merely asked landlords to consider not raising their rents. This has clearly been a failure. We must introduce rent control now if we are to support renters in Jersey.

"If the States adopt our proposition, we can have this new system in place by the start of next year. If the States is serious about dealing with our housing crisis, we hope they will choose our proposition to take action, rather than more reviews and consultation, whilst the cost of living continues to squeeze families."


Pictured: Deputy Mézec hopes that the proposition will help combat the cost of living crisis.

Deputy Mézec's proposed amendment to the island’s Residential Tenancy Law for rent control include banning rent increases from being imposed in the first three years of a tenancy, requiring a minimum notice period of three months before a rent review can be implemented, and capping the amount that rent may be increased.

He suggests that this cap should be determined by a “measure of affordability” such as the increase in the Average Earnings Index, the average of the Retail Prices Index over the past three years, or “an alternative effective measure which the Minister for Housing and Communities may deem appropriate”.

No fault evictions

Deputy Mézec also proposes to abolish “no fault evictions” — which allow landlords to end periodic tenancies with just three months notice without having to give any reason — by establishing open-ended tenancies as the default tenure, and requiring enhanced notice periods for tenants based on how long they have lived in the property.

The St. Helier South Deputy explains that plans to ban ‘no fault evictions’ — which have already been abolished in Scotland — will provide “enhanced security of tenure to renters” which he say is “vital”.

Deputy Mézec explained that allowing these evictions means that “many renters, no matter how long they have lived in their homes, are just three months away from having their whole lives turned upside down, having massive costs put on them, or facing becoming homeless”.


Pictured: Deputy Mézec says that many renters are just three months away from facing homelessness.

He also adds that this also means that renters have “almost no negotiating power at all” when “fighting unjustifiable rent increases” as “if they complain or cause a fuss, they can simply be kicked out and replaced with a tenant who is more compliant”. 

“This leads many [renters] to suffer in silence,” Deputy Mézec added.

Rent Tribunal 

Deputy Mézec is also proposing that a “fit-for-purpose” Rent Tribunal should be established to “provide both tenants and landlords with an outlet to resolve any disputes which arise because of the intricacies of rent control being introduced”.

He explained that the current Petty Debts Court system is “undesirable for multiple reasons”, including creating a “great imbalance of power” where “the tenant has far more to lose”.

“Sometimes the mere threat of a Petty Debts Summons can provoke a tenant into giving up standing up for themselves,” he explained.


Pictured: “Sometimes the mere threat of a Petty Debts Summons can provoke a tenant into giving up standing up for themselves."

The Reform Jersey leader described the most recent attempt to set up a Rent Control Tribunal as “an unmitigated mess”, with its reliance on the use of an out-of-date law making it “almost powerless to help tenants facing unjustifiable rent increases."

He described it as “a sad waste of time and public resources that this was pursued” but suggested that a reform of the Residential Tenancy Law provides an opportunity for new legislation which "give[s] a new Rent Tribunal the vires to do its job effectively".

Impact on children

Deputy Mézec’s proposal also describes the impact of rent control on young people, explaining that the Children’s Commissioner’s ‘Life on the Rock’ report from 2021 featured the issue of housing as one of the top concerns that children in Jersey have. 

He describes it as “clearly fundamental” for children to grow up in a “stable home environment”, explaining that “the cost of that housing is a key part of this”.  


Pictured: The Children’s Commissioner's ‘Life on the Rock’ report was written after an extensive consultation process with local young people, and featured housing as one of the top concerns that children have.

Deputy Mézec explained that “by legislating to introduce rent control and open-ended tenancies, the States of Jersey will effectively be providing ‘material assistance’ to households to maintain their child’s home and protect the household budget from further pressure” and “enable families to provide greater support for their children”.

Deputy Mézec's proposition will be debated in the States Assembly sitting on 2 May 2023.

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Posted by anthony turmel on
without warning my rent has just gone up to-day by £157.23 increase per month by a so called housing trust..!...lovely views though.
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