The island’s housing qualifications system is “discriminatory” and “inadequate”, according to the former manager of social housing provider Jersey Homes Trust.
Michael Van Neste has spoken out after financial worker Theo Burger Botha contacted the JEP to say he was witness to the ‘desperate’ situation faced by people restricted to registered accommodation because they are in Jersey for less than ten years, with demand outstripping supply and tenants ‘fighting to be first on the viewing list’.
The islander – who has lived here for three years – wondered why the issue was not being addressed, particularly at a time of staff shortages and difficulties in attracting workers to Jersey.
Under current rules, those who have lived on the island for less than ten years – and who are not considered essential employees – are limited to renting registered accommodation, which consists mainly of units in townhouses. hosts and lodging houses. An essential employee is defined as someone who moves to the island to fulfill a role for which “the required skills may be specialized”. This includes doctors, teachers and nurses.
Under the Housing and Labor Control Act, all new accommodation is given qualified status and therefore cannot be occupied by “registered” islanders, although the Chief Minister has the power to change the classification of a dwelling.
Echoing Mr Botha’s concerns, Mr Van Neste said: “The housing qualifications system is not fit for purpose. Anyone who is in gainful employment should at least be able to rent [from the full range of properties].’
He pointed out that the qualifications had created a “two-tier” system which was “ultimately wrong”.
“It’s part of the housing crisis, it’s discriminatory and let’s face it, – they [people limited to registered accommodation] could be ripped off as this is an ever-diminishing supply pool,” he added.
Mr Botha said: “I came to Jersey three years ago on a work visa to work in finance. I went through a rigorous, expensive and time-consuming process to earn the right to be here. Yet, after all this, it is still extremely difficult to find accommodation for anyone registered.
He added: “I consider myself lucky to have come with a partner, which allows us to afford slightly higher prices, but many are not so lucky. I still see countless people coming, getting into even higher priced hotels, trying to find accommodation. I see single mothers losing their apartments as landlords sell, desperately trying to find something affordable for their families.
He also said supply was failing to keep pace with demand for registered homes.
“It gives all the power to landlords and us tenants, who are fighting to be first on the viewing list.”
Chief Minister Kristina Moore said: ‘The new government has set up a population and skills ministerial group which will work across portfolios to look at all aspects of housing and working issues on the island, including whether current legislation meets the needs of islanders. ”