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"This is why young people are leaving Jersey"

Thursday 02 September 2021

"This is why young people are leaving Jersey"

Thursday 02 September 2021

The former Housing Minister has blasted the Government for "refusing to take any meaningful action to address housing affordability" , which he says is driving young people out of the island.

Senator Sam Mézec's comments came as the Government confirmed that a minimum of 15% of homes built on the Planning and Environment offices at South Hill would be set aside for first-time buyers.

The announcement coincided with the posting of a Facebook advert for a cramped-looking £925pm "studio" flat, which the Senator said exemplified why it was so urgent the Government needed to do more.

According to policy guidance in relation to the States of Jersey Development Company's South Hill development published by Ministers yesterday, the Government should:

  • ensure that buy-to-let investors are prevented from acquiring units on the Development at the initial point of sale;
  • take such steps as are necessary to provide that the Development and the units thereon are structured by way of Flying Freehold;
  • and ensure that a minimum 15% of the units eventually constructed are provided for a first-time buyer shared-equity scheme, for which access and eligibility criteria will be established by the Minister for Housing and Communities.

South Hill apartments JDC.jpg

Pictured: Designs of the South Hill development released so far.

But Senator Mézec said this new guidance didn't go far enough.

"Jersey faces a housing crisis, where many thousands of islanders are in rental stress and families are losing hope of ever getting onto the housing ladder.

"We have 2,000 applications on the first-time-buyers waiting list, with 1,000 more waiting for social housing. The Government has been told by the States Assembly that we did not agree with their previous proposal to allow South Hill to be used as a cash cow for property investors, but instead it must go towards meeting Jersey's demonstrable housing need."


Pictured: Senator Mézec said the States Assembly had been clear to Ministers that South Hill must not become a "cash cow for property investors."

He continued: "To now find out that they are proposing as little as just 15% of the homes for affordable purchase shows that they are not taking this issue seriously and are prepared to squander yet another opportunity to make a difference.

"The government's proposed Bridging Island Plan is projecting the development of just 1,500 'affordable' homes in the next 4 years, which is half of what we know we need today.

"Their lack of ambition on housing is failing Islanders and must be addressed.

"I am calling on the government to bring forward a more ambitious proposal, which will deliver a greater proportion of affordable homes on this site, and further commit to ensuring that all homes they build on government-owned land are designated as affordable, and not to be sold on to investors."

That evening, the Senator also took to social media to call out the Government on its slow progress on tackling the affordable housing dearth after spotting a St. Saviour's Road-based studio apartment, which he described as "so small you can't even open your fridge without moving the TV or get out of your fold-up bed in the morning without climbing over the sofa".

The fact such a property had attracted a £925pm rent, according to the Facebook ad, was an indication "something is desperately wrong", according to Senator Mézec.

His post went on to criticise Government for its opposition to:

  • banning inflationary rent increases;
  • providing security for tenants through open-ended tenancies;
  • cutting social housing rents to a more affordable level;
  • and ensuring all homes meeting basic health and safety standards before they are allowed to be rented out.

He added: "Now you have announced that you will be opposing more proposals to ensure public land isn't used for developing investment properties to be rented out at extortionate rates, or to require private developers to reserve some of the homes they build for first-time-buyers.

"There is no hope so long as our government buries its head in the sand and does nothing to help ordinary Islanders, especially young people, put a roof above their head so they can get on in life."

The post generated a significant reaction, with more than 700 people reacting to the post, and more than 300 commenting, many of whom shared their experiences of housing struggles in Jersey.

It's not the first time the ex-Minister has aired his frustration with the Council of Ministers in relation to affordable housing - in fact, he is calling for Ministers to be formally reprimanded through a 'motion of censure' for failing to release a report on the Waterfront redevelopment on time.

This 'vote of censure' will be debated in the States Assembly on 14 September.


Jersey Housing Trust Chair Michael Van Neste spoke about the island's "fractured" housing provision, and what he thinks the Government needs to do to address it...

The Housing Issue

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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 Dave Mathews on
The lack of money left over after paying the rents will simply destroy businesses in Jersey.
Jersey already has a reputation of being the most expensive place to live in the World on Google Searches and a lot of workers will simply avoid the Island for it.
Posted by Private Individual on
Mezec was in charge and did nothing to stop any of this. He knew what was going on when he was the housing minister but choose to do nothing and side with the com.

It is very simple to stop all of this, increase quals to 20 years again, stop all outside investors from buying any property in Jersey, and push for all property owners that sit in the states to recuse themselves when a vote on housing is called for.

Stop all inward migration for 2 years and let the market settle, then introduce strict controls on work permits. Yes, you can come and work but you must go home afterward.
Posted by Peter Richardson on
Everything in this world we have created is a market subject to supply and demand. Based on limited supply, fewer people needing accommodation = lower rents. But we have the SOJ subsidising rents for families so they just go up and up. Landlords benefit, tax payers loose. I agree about work permits but also local unemployed must take jobs that are offered, such as currently in hospitality sector.
Posted by Louise Bree on
Jersey must be the only please in the world where it is expected its local population take minimum-wage jobs! Work permits must be introduced so those people who come to the island for these jobs do not move on and end up in better jobs than the local population otherwise those roles will never be filled! Guernsey have a totally separate housing market for anyone going to the island to work. The average home is £200,000 cheaper than hours! Who's got it right?
Posted by Jon Jon on
Down to the poor States members that we have now,no control over immigration,we’ve the League of Nations living in this Island now.Both our kids left this Island ,both in good jobs working away,and able to save money to buy their properties away.Jersey now is just pure greed.Affordable housing is definitely needed,but control immigration and let’s get a far better group of States members in place next year who exactly know what their doing.
Posted by P K on
Estate agents need regulating like elsewhere, and it should be mandatory for ALL to have passed the national qualifications and current members of NAEA, before being allowed to sell property. Nowadays it's all my mate runs an agency or my Mum's or Dad knows knows someone who does so they'll have a word etc. It's ridiculous. There are far too many claiming to be one and it seems anyone and everyone these days is one. Most have no idea where a drain is, they only know a mate who does. Even the regulated ones inflate prices to ridiculous levels. All hope for an overseas buyer as they think everyone wants to move here because that's what they did 25 years ago. But most severely rich actually don't and the amount of 11k applications reflect this. Its only immigrants that revel in the status of Jersey and soon that is all Jersey will have, an Island full of immigrants and a 3 bed semi will be priced at 1.5m. It's no wonder people leave. In 10 years who is going to be able to buy the worst 3 bed semi for 1.5m on minimum wage ? And what bank will lend to anyone on minimum wage to buy a tiny one room studio flat for 700k ? Answers on a postcard...... It has to be stopped. As for rents, social housing providers firstly should not be allowed to exploit renters in any way and rents should be capped and regulated in line with income support levels. They are paying oncome support to tenants then taking the money back with 50 percent increase by way of rent. It's exploitation. All landlords should be forced to provide liveable standards and there should be strict regulations for that. I have seen some places that would make most cry. And people have no choice but to live in them as they are cheaper. It needs to be stopped. Work permits aka 1980 are needed also. 15 April and be gone by 15 October. 20 year qualifications again, and NO overseas buyers allowed to buy property unless moving to as main accommodation with owner resident in Jersey and not allowed to rent out or sell for 20 years. The property and rental market would soon change. All new properties built should have a price cap and be firstly offered to local buyers only who need to register interest. Only what's left should be offered on the free market, and should not be able to be rented out for the first 5 years. Its that simple.
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