Call for a new law as rental income doubles over decade

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A DOUBLING in declared rental income over a ten-year period highlights the need for new legislation to help tenants, the Housing Minister has said.

Deputy David Warr spoke after a written question from former Housing Minister Deputy Sam Mézec revealed that net rental income declared by taxpayers had risen from £61 million in 2011 to £123 million in 2020.

And Deputy Mézec has said he will be bringing forward a proposition for a new residential tenancy law in the next few weeks, proposing controls on the amount rents can be increased by and how often.

Deputy Warr acknowledged that there was evidence rising rents ‘have outstripped increases in wages’.

‘We have to keep [going] with our building programme. We have to give people more choice,’ he said.

‘The other area which we are working hard on is our residential tenancy law, which we’re now currently upgrading,’ he added, noting that a government white paper was due to be published in the next few weeks.

Housing Minister David Warr Picture: ROB CURRIE. (35584386)

The document will set out potential changes that could help form an updated residential tenancy law for private and social housing – considering various controls such as only allowing rent increases in line with inflation.

‘It’s a great opportunity to pull together lots of different strands [of legislation],’ Deputy Warr added.

‘I think what we recognise is that if certain landlords aren’t playing ball – and they are maybe putting in two increases in a year because they can get away with it – that’s not fair.’

However, Deputy Mézec said that waiting for a white paper to be published was ‘not good enough’ and revealed he would soon be lodging a proposition asking the Assembly to decide on various rent controls.

This, he explained, would include a ban on rent increases taking place more than once a year and a cap bringing rent increases in line with ‘key metrics’ such as inflation or wage growth.

Commenting on the data, he added: ‘This [doubling in rental income] has happened while we have been hearing more and more examples of people who have had to leave the Island, with many citing high rents as the reason why.

‘It stifles their ability to invest in their futures, to save for a deposit or spend into the economy.’

The data:

Census data shows that between 2011 and 2021:

– The number of qualified private rental dwellings rose from 7,806 to 10,739.

– The number of owner-occupied properties rose from 22,574 to 23,870.

– The overall population grew from 97,857 to 103,267.

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