It may not be a typical part of the country but on one of the Channel Islands there is now a debate about whether buy to let should be banned outright in a bid to take the heat out of the local sales market.
Jersey’s former housing minister Sam Mezec says expensive homes to buy – such as a one bed cottage now being marketed for £295,000 – would make first time purchasers lose hope.
Last month a report from island government’s housing division described the market as ‘not fit for purpose’ and that ‘ownership is increasingly out of reach for residents with average incomes’.
Now Mezec – who is a senator sitting in the island’s parliament – has told the local media: “We are focused more towards satisfying investors rather than people. The number of landlords has dramatically increased in recent years and the more landlords there are, the fewer opportunities there are for people to own their home.”
He continues: “This might mean tougher regulations like banning buy-to-lets in some developments and assigning a proportion of properties for first-time buyers.
“The fundamental problem is that Jersey’s housing market is an investors’ market. Homes are too often seen as a commodity. There are too few people in politics prepared to challenge the dynamic of the market and move away from it being profit-driven and instead address the issue of access to housing as a basic human right.”
He describes renting as “a miserable experience” making it hard for people to save for a deposit.
He gives a personal example of what he believes is a problem facing first time buyers, saying: “My parents managed to buy a three-bedroom home and extend it to a four-bed home by the time they were 30. I am 30 now, with a university degree and rent. I have little-to-no prospect of being able to buy – certainly not on the scale that they were able to.”
Jersey’s rental regulations vary considerably from those of the mainland.
Last month we reported on Landlord Today that a consultation process was underway on Jersey about whether landlords should be banned from refusing to let to families.
The Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013 currently protects people from discrimination on various grounds, including age; however, one article in the law allows discrimination in relation to the management of premises – meaning a prospective or existing tenant of residential property could be discriminated against if they have a child or children.