JERSEY’S housing market has ‘transformed’ over the past decade, allowing disputes over matters such as living conditions and return of deposits to be resolved far more easily, a charity leader has said.
Citizens Advice chief executive Malcolm Ferey said nowadays he was able to offer quick solutions when approached by distressed Islanders with housing issues as waves of ‘robust legislation’ have come into force since he was appointed to his role almost a decade ago.
He said that a good example was laws introduced in 2015 requiring landlords to hold tenants’ deposits with a third party company called MyDeposits, which also acts as mediator when disputes arise.
‘I have been doing this job for almost nine years and the advice that we gave to people back then is very different to the advice that we give them now,’ said Mr Ferey.
‘What we are offering them now is solutions and the legislation in place nowadays supports those solutions.
‘In terms of examples, one of the biggest issues we used to have was tenancy deposits. Of course with the tenancy deposits scheme we are still giving advice, but the advice now is simply: “here’s how you get your deposit back” and there are good robust procedures around that.
‘In the past we said that you would have to speak to your landlord and possibly take them to court to recover a deposit. People just weren’t prepared to do that – they wouldn’t have the time, the wherewithal or the finances.
‘So now what we are able to offer is immediate solutions. And, equally, we are able to give advice to landlords as well, so they know that they are complying with the legislation.’
Mr Ferey said that living conditions in much of Jersey’s property market have also improved as new legislation has been introduced – but that there was still a lot more work to be done.
‘Tenants’ deposits protection has been just one aspect of where the housing market has changed. We have seen the introduction of laws such as minimum standards for rental dwellings,’ he said.
‘Years ago we saw the horrible conditions that people were living in and thankfully that is reducing all the time as the minimum standards come in. These issues will become a thing of the past, but it will take time.
‘I would say one thing that has changed in my job is the robust legislation around housing. We have seen a transformation in this area with the residential tenancy law, the tenants deposits protection scheme and conditions reports being introduced.
‘These are things that people take for granted now and they simply didn’t exist nine years ago.’
More details about the work carried out by Citizens’ Advice can be found online at cab.org.je.