Law to raise standards of rental homes

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Environment Minister John Young has lodged proposals for an appointed-day act, which will be brought before the States on 11 September, to be passed, bringing the Island’s new rental dwellings laws into force.

If approved, the legislation, the principles of which were passed unanimously by the States last year, will set new minimum standards for property let out to tenants in the Island and come into effect on
1 October.

It will also give the Environment Minister and his officers greater legal powers to make landlords deal with properties which fall below the required standards.

Stewart Petrie, director of Environmental Health, said that the new standards would focus on preventing conditions within properties that can damage the health of tenants.

‘The laws will focus on things like is there safe drinking water, that there isn’t mould and damp, making sure that handrails are in place so there is no risk of falling,’ he said.

‘They will also make sure that properties are well ventilated – not too cold in winter and not too warm in the summer.

‘Rather than focusing on defects like, let’s say, a missing slate, before, the laws will require landlords to address issues which can affect health.

‘It is not the reason we are doing it, but this will save the Health Department money in the long run, as they will have fewer illnesses to treat.’

He added: ‘We are merely getting Jersey’s laws up to the standards which you or I would expect and are already in place in other jurisdictions.

‘Similar laws to these were first introduced in the UK 101 years ago.’

Last year, the States launched the Rent Safe accreditation scheme, which grades landlords on the quality of the property they are letting out and publishes ratings from three to five stars on the website.

So far, just ten landlords – who are responsible for fewer than 100 properties altogether, have joined the scheme.

But Mr Petrie said that he expected the number of landlords who were signed up to the scheme to dramatically increase as the introduction of the new legislation came closer.

‘We had a meeting with a number of estate agents a couple of weeks ago and six have already expressed an interest in signing up to Rent Safe,’ he said.

‘If the agents sign up, then they will be bring the landlords with them.

‘I expect by the time the laws have been passed hundreds more will be on the scheme.’

He added: ‘I would be surprised if the appointed-day act is not approved because the laws were approved unanimously last year.’

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