“Reform Jersey believes that every Islander deserves to have a secure and affordable roof above their head. Home-ownership should not be out of reach for the many, and those in the rental sector should receive a decent service for the rent that they pay.”
Jersey’s housing market is broken. The Jersey Household Income Distribution Survey 2014/15 showed that the cost of housing was the largest contributor to poverty, and we have a much lower home-ownership rate than the UK. For too long, the States has regulated the market in the interests of investors, rather than the interests of people who need a place to live. They have opposed regulations to improve access and have claimed that the only solution to the housing crisis is to build more houses, yet have failed even by their own benchmarks. This will change under Reform Jersey.
Simple regulations exist in other jurisdictions which the current government has refused to implement here, despite the clear impact they would have in improving access to affordable housing for Islanders. If a Reform Jersey member becomes Housing Minister in the next government, they will ban letting agent fees for tenants immediately (as has already been done in the UK).
We believe that the cost of accommodation, whether to rent or buy, at its current high levels is unsustainable. The housing crisis is in major part due to the current government's inability or unwillingness to tackle inward migration. They have set a level for net inward migration of around 325 individuals a year, which leads over time to nil net growth, but has failed to meet its own target by spectacular margins, averaging 1,000 over the last 5 years.
Over 35% of our population are living in “housing stress”, where they are paying more than 33% of their income on rent (with many paying more than 50% of their income). It is clear that the cost of housing is too high in Jersey and this must be addressed urgently.
Increasing supply in the market can only be part of the solution. Much of Jersey’s private sector housing is completely unregulated, with no safeguards in place on whether those properties are suitable or being rented for a reasonable amount.
We will re-establish the Rent Tribunal to allow tenants to challenge unjustifiable rent increases, whilst we conduct further research into housing regulation to make sure that the housing market works in the interests of people who need a roof above their head.
This current government has scrapped social housing and replaced it with so-called "affordable" housing. Social housing usually has rent levels set at a maximum of 80% of those in the private sector, whilst ours is set at 90%. At such a high level, housing is by no means "affordable". It is completely dependent on subsidy from the taxpayer, delivered for some on low incomes in the rental component of Income Support. Andium Homes increase rents annually by RPI (inflation) plus 0.75% until the 90% mark is met. But there is no limit to private sector rents or annual increases, so no limit on social rents either. Reform Jersey proposes a freeze on social housing rents.
At the 2011 census, there were 3,000 properties registered as being empty, many for legitimate reasons, but it is clear that too many homes lie empty for no good reason.
Investors should not be able to hoard properties when there is a housing shortage. We pledge to introduce an empty property tax to incentivise landlords to put properties back on the market or lower their rents.<< PREVIOUS NEXT >>