Jersey States assembly votes against declaring a 'housing affordability crisis'

Drone shot of residential area in Jersey
The proposition included reducing the cost of social housing rent by 10%. Credit: ITV Channel TV

The Jersey government has rejected a proposition to take action in response to the island's so-called "housing affordability crisis".

The former housing minister, Senator Sam Mézec, asked members to vote to introduce open-ended rents, rent stabilization and lower the cost of social housing by 10%.

He also called on the government to introduce a timetable to act on the plans by the end of next month.

Housing Minister, Deputy Russell Labey, has recently published his plans to tackle the issue of housing, which included building 1,000 new affordable homes by 2025.

The Minister is due to release the Fair Rents Plan by the end of the year which is expected to address social housing eligibility and protection for private tenants. However, his latest report has been branded by Senator Mézec as a "talking plan" which he says fails to act on the Housing Policy Development Board's recommendations.

According to the Jersey House Price Index, compiled by Statistics Jersey, the average house in Jersey was £630,000 last year, up from £430,000 a decade ago.

Meanwhile the average household income has gone down by 11% in the same period.

All five parts of Senator Mézec's proposition were rejected, although his calls to reduce the cost of social housing were only defeated by three votes.

States Members opposed to the proposition raised concerns about the limitations of open-ended tenancies to both landlords and tenants.

Deputy Ash was pulled up for rejecting the term "housing affordability crisis" and asking members to consider the island's situation compared to that of third world countries.

Rent stabilization also faced criticism, including from the Chief Minister, who likened it to "Soviet-style control".

There was strong debate around reducing the cost of social housing rent from up to 90% of market rate to up to 80%.

Concern was raised by some that it would not benefit the poorest tenants, whose rent is already paid by the government, and would put too much strain on the public purse.

Meanwhile earlier in the sitting hearing States members voted to introduce a new licensing scheme for rental properties.