Landlords need legal protection as much as tenants, an association head has said.
In response to plans for a register of licensed landlords to be established in the Island, Robert Weston, chairman of the Jersey Landlords’ Association, said that the rental market is a ‘two-way’ street and it is always property owners and not tenants who are punished when new regulations are introduced.
He called for landlords to have greater powers to recover costs from or promptly evict tenants who fail to keep a property in the condition they found it.
Last week the Environmental Health Department unveiled proposals, which, if approved, would see landlords required to obtain licences to rent out their properties.
It is hoped that the move would help States officers identify all of Jersey’s landlords and ensure that their properties meet minimum standards set out in last year’s rental dwellings law, such as ensuring there is safe drinking water and no broken windows.
Mr Weston said that the proposals would be ‘counter-productive’, however, and a ‘huge and costly exercise in red tape’.
He added that the costs of the new regulations, including an annual licence fee of £50 to £200, would be passed on to tenants.
‘The present proposal, as it now stands, will undoubtedly deter new landlords from entering the letting industry,’ he said.
‘And it will encourage existing private landlords to sell their rented dwelling property and reinvest their money in something else, preferably where there is less red-tape, or no red-tape at all.
‘The bottom line is that this registration and inspection proposal is wholly counter-productive to the Island’s desperate need for more rented accommodation in our Island, at lower rents.
‘An even worse consequence will be that, for every landlord who now leaves the industry, the States will have to provide Andium Homes with sufficient funding to build one or more replacement properties for the rental market.’
Mr Weston also said he believed any additional legal protection for tenants should be matched by further protection for landlords, as there are ‘delinquents’ on both sides.
‘There are a relatively few imperfect landlords in Jersey, just as there are a relatively few imperfect tenants,’ he said.
‘In the case of any delinquents on either side, it is only those delinquents who should be punished – not everyone, as is yet again being proposed here.
‘There should also be some similarly protective provisions for landlords. These should require tenants to keep their dwellings in a clean and tidy state and to leave it, on departure, as they found it on arrival.
‘Delinquent tenants should be obligated to pay any costs resulting from their failure to fulfil that obligation and should also be rendered liable to prompt eviction if unable or unwilling to comply.
‘This fresh landlord and tenant scenario would then become more rationalised, as a “two-way” street rather than the present one-way street.’