10 Jun 2021

Instead of charging landlords around £1,000 like most UK councils – for the dubious honour of going into a database – which the council will then use so they can easily inspect properties and issue eye watering fines, Jersey (which is of course part of the UK) is to offer this for free.

They did try to charge for it but we’re told by their government that they can only offer this dubious service for free. So they are not as magnanimous as their press release makes out!

Like all councils, they promote property licensing under the banner of “improving housing quality” but we have seen in council after council on the mainland that the true objective is the multi-£100,000,000s of fine revenue they can generate. 

Frequently concentrating on generating revenue whilst leaving tenants in mortal danger in dangerous properties – where the correct and safe procedures are ignored, in favour of more drawn-out processes that allow the council to instead collect massive fines from the landlord.

Thanks to government legislation, councils get to keep all the money they can raise from fining landlords! What could possibly go wrong? The potential revenues are so enormous that the temptation for corruption and trumped-up fines is extremely high and examples are regularly observed. 

Whereas most British local authorities levy high fees on landlords, new plans put forward on Jersey will see landlords required to apply for a license for each of their rental properties, which will need to be renewed every five years. 

There will be no initial charge for existing landlords to join the scheme, which is designed to uphold minimum safety standards.

ITV News on the island reports that inspections of each rental property would then be carried out periodically, to ensure the home complied with the legal minimum standards for rental dwellings.

The minimum standards cover damp, excess cold, drainage and electrical hazards, as well as structural safety.

Last September the Jersey government – called the States – rejected a proposal for a licensing scheme that would have charged landlords. 

Deputy Rob Ward, proposing the new scheme, says: “It will ensure that the Government of Jersey, for the first time ever, has the necessary knowledge about what property is being rented out, and its suitability, occupancy and location. 

It is intended that a light touch will be adopted. The Environmental Health Team will continue to work with landlords and managing agents to achieve compliance within an agreed timetable.”

However, landlords on the island have warned that the bureaucracy involved may lead to charges at a later date; instead, it has suggested a registration scheme and a beefed-up complaints system.

Said Phil Turtle, compliance director with Landlord Licensing & Defence, “We are horrified at many properties we inspect, some of which are frankly death traps. Of course the landlord is guilty, but we have cases where councils like Northampton, Camden and many others have left tenants living in mortal danger for months and in Northampton’s case over 5 years while they concentrated on extracting swinging fines from the landlord. This is not how housing gets improved, it is how councils have found a way to asset-strip landlords with fine of frequently  25-50% of the property’s value. 

“One word of advice to landlords: it is no longer safe to talk to the council as their main role is now enforcement – just like the police – and they are constantly looking to make landlords self-incriminate. A very sad situation.”

Based on an original article

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