Rent caps ‘no solution to the homeless issue’

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In a series of articles highlighting Homelessness Awareness Week, homeless Islander Vincent Hughes recently called on landlords to do more to make renting a private property a viable option for those like himself.

He also asked the States to consider introducing legislation to cap rental prices.

However, JLA president Robert Weston said the burden must rest with the government – but claimed they were reluctant to take on the responsibility, even though homeless shelters were running close to capacity.

Currently, the average rent per week for a bedsit owned by States social housing provider Andium Homes is £127.42, while it costs on average £172.16 a week to rent a one-bedroom Andium flat.

The average price of a private non-qualified single-person bedsit is £140 per week, which includes private shower and toilet facilities. The average price of a double bedsit with private cooking facilities is £160 per week. Bedsits with shared shower, toilet and cooking facilities can average anything from £75 per week upwards.

The average cost of a private rented flat is not recorded by any organisation.

Mr Weston said: ‘The association understands and sympathises with the plight of those in a modern civilised society who find themselves homeless, especially where market rentals are perceived as a major cause of the problem.

‘For many reasons, however, homelessness in Jersey is a matter that would not be resolved by landlords simply capping rents at an artificially low level.

‘Homelessness is certainly a problem that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency but it can only be addressed by government, rather than by private landlords.’

Housing Minister Anne Pryke has said she is committed to delivering more than 1,000 new affordable homes over the next five years.

She added: ‘Rent controls appear an attractive policy on the surface because they are said to reduce the cost of renting housing. However, rent controls have been shown to have a knock-on effect on supply as landlords move out of the market with extra regulation. Controls may actually reduce the availability and quality of rented housing, and are difficult to administer and do not achieve the distributional goals they are advocated as a solution for.

‘We need to continue to focus on the supply of affordable homes for rent. If supply is insufficient rents will rise and people will live in unsuitable accommodation. This is why we must deliver 1,000-plus new affordable homes over the next five years and beyond.’

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