Should landlords need a licence in Jersey? Politicians debate introducing scheme

Politicians are today (8 September) debating whether to introduce a scheme which would put landlords on a register, and regulate their properties on a yearly basis to make sure they meet minimum standards. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Politicians in Jersey are today (8 September) debating whether to introduce a scheme which would put landlords on a register.

It would be used to regulate their properties on a yearly basis to make sure they meet minimum standards.

Around four complaints a week have been made about the state of rented accommodation in the island since minimum standards were introduced. Environmental Health has heard 448 complaints since the law change in 2018 - with issues including things like damp, broken windows and a lack of working smoke detectors, hot water and toilets.

448

the number of complaints made about rental properties since minimum standards were introduced.
This is just one of the examples of poor accommodation in Jersey.

These figures are one of the main arguments for the introduction of a new Landlord Licensing Scheme being debated in the States this week. It would see all landlords put onto a register, a licence fee - of around £50 a year - brought in, and all properties being inspected on a yearly basis.

Those behind it say it will make sure existing laws are enforced.

It's about having a system where we can be confident and sure that properties, dwellings that are rented out meet minimum standards,. That's something we've needed for a very long time, and efforts have continued since 2008 to get this through.

Deputy John Young, Jersey's Environment Minister
Various meetings were held earlier this year to talk landlords through the potential changes. Credit: ITV Channel TV

While the group representing landlords agrees that good standards are essential, it says this is not the answer, as it will cause rents to go up and some landlords to be forced out of the market.

To inspect and license 20,000 properties in Jersey is overly bureaucratic and is going to be costly. There are minimum standards in law already and the means to enforce those minimum standards, so what we need is to empower the tenants to use those standards, so that the few bad landlords can be rooted out, and the others can get on and do their job.

Emma Paul, Jersey Landlords' Association

One of the things the Landlords' Association has been calling for is the introduction of a Tenants' Association - which was formed just a few months ago. Representing the island's estimated 15,000 renters, it wants to see the industry brought in line with other businesses.

If you go to a restaurant, you want to know where you're eating is safe and you're not going to get food poisoning, and the same is true when you rent out a private property. That's what this bill is going to do - it gives confidence to the renter that you're signing up to something that meets those minimum standards.

Stuart Langhorn, Jersey Tenants' Forum

As politicians get ready to make up their own minds, Jersey's Housing Minister says the debate has to be about more than just money.

To run an ice cream van in Jersey you currently have to pay more than you do to be a landlord. So it's nothing in the grand scheme of things, and as a a society we bear the cost of getting this wrong - children not being able to concentrate at school because of problems at home, people getting sick and having to go to the hospital. This is about proactively helping people - it's worth every penny.

Senator Sam Mézec, Jersey's Housing Minister

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