Jersey could adopt a ‘lighter touch’ landlord licensing scheme if lawmakers approve revamped plans for the private rented sector.
States members (pictured) rejected a licensing scheme in September that would have charged all landlords to join and submit to yearly inspections.
The new plan – being debated today – suggests only charging for new applications, with existing landlords granted a licence free of charge without pre-inspection. Licences would then be renewed every five years.
Periodic inspections would ensure legal minimum standards for rental properties were met, covering faults such as damp, excess cold, drainage and electrical hazards, as well as structural safety.
According to the island’s environmental health department, about 3,000 properties inspected in the last three years have failed to meet these standards.
Bureaucratic and costly
However, the Jersey Landlord Association is still opposed to the “bureaucratic and costly” scheme, which it says will impact on tenants through increased rents and intrusive inspections.
The group suggests that voluntary self-registration together with a fit-for-purpose complaints scheme, better education and appropriate guidelines issued to landlords and tenants is a better way forward.
It adds: “We are proposing that tenants that ‘blow the whistle’ on bad landlords should be granted appropriate protections against eviction and excessive rent increases.”
Deputy Rob Ward (pictured)n says the government’s revised scheme will ensure that for the first time ever, it has the necessary knowledge about what properties are being rented out, and their suitability, occupancy and location.
“It is intended that a light touch will be adopted. The environmental health team will continue to work with landlords and managing agents to achieve compliance within an agreed timetable,” he says.