Jersey's Housing Minister and predecessor grapple over policy in feisty interview

  • Deputies David Warr and Sam Mézec debated the island's housing policy during a spirited joint interview

Jersey's Housing Minister and one of his predecessors had a feisty exchange of views during an ITV News interview in the Royal Square.

Deputies David Warr - who took on the role in July 2022 - and Sam Mézec - who held the title between 2018 and 2020 - were speaking ahead of the findings of a public consultation into proposed rent reforms being published in the coming weeks.

The government's proposals include allowing open-ended tenancies for the first time, capping rent increases to just once per year and requiring landlords to give tenants at least two months' notice before putting up prices.

After a civil start, the politicians' differing views and priorities soon became apparent.

Deputy Warr said the government must balance the needs of both tenants and landlords, while Deputy Mézec pushed for strong political leadership and said only bad landlords would sell up if faced with more stringent minimum standards.

"Consultation is not action", Deputy Mézec told the minister.

He added: "People who are suffering from inflationary rent increases won't thank anyone for prolonging an exercise with more consultation. What they want is leadership from their politicians."

Deputy Warr hit back saying he and the government are "absolutely" showing leadership.

The minister said: "My take on it all is that we live in a democratic process. [Deputy Mézec] would be the first person to criticise me if I walked into the Assembly and said 'This is exactly what we're going to do' without first consulting with our electorate."

He added that the government is currently working on a "wholesale clean-out" of the island's "archaic" laws which date back decades.

If approved, it is expected to come into force in 2024.

The minister said he voted against calls from Deputy Mézec and his party, Reform Jersey, to modernise the existing housing tribunal because they clashed with the government's own plans.

"What is the point in having a consultation period, if we know the answer before we even do a consultation?", the minister asked his predecessor. "The people of Jersey would think me an absolute..." he trailed off.

The results of the government consultation into Deputy Warr's housing reform plans are due to be published in the next few weeks.

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