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New tenancy law 'could help keep young islanders in Jersey'

The Housing Minister is developing a new residential tenancy law which he says could help to encourage young islanders to stay in Jersey, and stem the so-called 'brain drain'.

Deputy Sam Mézec has published what he thinks is the 'way forward' for addressing some of the challenges faced by renters in the island.

The new law will be lodged later this year, but the minister has instructed it should include limiting rent rises to one per year and forcing landlords to give tenants a minimum notice period before any increase.

Deputy Mézec says the current legal framework for governing tenancy contracts is not fit for purpose.

"It does not provide adequate protections for people who rent their homes from revenge evictions or from being able to challenge excessive rent increases.

"We are looking at whether there are mechanisms we can put in place to limit how much rent can be increased in one go.  That, over time, would have an impact on protecting tenants from inflationary rent-increases, or rent increases that can't be justified, that might end up pushing tenants out of their home when they can't afford it."

Deputy Mézec says high rents are forcing many young people to consider their future on the island. He says there are a lot of very basic flats to rent at a level someone would have to be on a significant salary to afford.

"You know when you're faced with the unaffordability of renting it's no surprise that some people think they stand a chance of a happier life elsewhere.

"This is something that is vital we get to grips with, otherwise we're going to see a brain drain of our young people and that would pose a severe risk to Jersey's economic future if we allowed that to happen."

It is also proposed a new housing tribunal be introduced to settle tenancy disputes outside of the courts and to avoid wrongful evictions.

Deputy Mezéc told Channel 103 he hopes if landlords and tenants know this service is available, they will be able to sort out problems.

"That kind of specialised service would hopefully empower people on both sides to stand up for themselves if they face unjustifiable practices in return."

The draft law will be published later this year and will be debated by the States Assembly.


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