GPRLA Letter to Deputies on the Amendment to the General Housing Law being debated 18/19 June
Guernsey Private Residential Landlords Association
to All States Deputies
Proposition No P.2020/30
Proposed Introduction of a General Housing Law
The GPRLA write to you today on behalf of our 254 members representing 1477 units of accommodation in the Island. We request that you do not support the Amendment to the above law for the following reasons.
It will not alter or increase the number of landlords willing or able to rent to tenants with children.
It will be time consuming to both the Tenant and Landlord in that a family may view a property that the Landlord does not wish to rent to children. In which case the Landlord will ultimately choose a tenant without children thus wasting everyone’s time when this could have been prevented by stating “no children” in any advertising as is the case now.
The exemption categories are too narrow. Landlords know their own properties better than anyone and whether they are suitable for children from past experience. A few examples not covered under this Amendment are:-
A property on the 3rd or 4th floor with winding stairs and no lift may not be suitable for very young children or mothers with push chairs but ok for teenagers.
A bock of flats in the town area with no outside garden or communal area will lead to longer time spent in the house with the potential for noise created by normal child play .
Several units co-located with mainly older Tenants may not wish to have a family with several teenagers who have motor bikes.
Older flat conversions may not have the modern standards of sound proofing so it would be ill advised to put a young family with say a new baby next to older tenants.
A property may have a front door directly onto the main road as in George Street St Peter Port.
Under this amendment none of the examples given would allow the Landlord to advertise no children or children considered.
Is there a problem ?
While the Amendment sets out the problem of affordable house purchase and the high cost of renting in Guernsey compared to England and Wales, the two comparisons are linked. High property prices result in high rental prices. A landlord will typically be looking for a return on his investment of 6% gross and 4% net. This Amendment will neither reduce the price of property nor the rental charged by Landlords.
To define that there is in fact a problem we would suggest that there are 3 factors that will indicate that a problem exists.
Availability, Choice and Affordability
If we look at the figures on page 3 of the Amendment we see that there were 86 properties for rent. Of these only 8 said they would categorically not take children which is 10% of the total. Therefore 90% ( 78 units ) of the properties will take or consider to take children if their properties are suitable. Not that many years ago you would have been lucky to see a dozen properties offered for rent. Do we really need to make it law to force 8 properties to not advertise “no children “ when at the end of the day they still will not rent to families. We also do not know the reason the 8 property Landlords decided not to rent to children. With 78 properties available to various combinations of children we do not see a problem.
Of the 86 Properties 38 were 2 bed, 28 were 3 bed and 20 were 4 bed. We believe that the industry has got it right and is offering a good choice of rental properties across the spectrum to tenants who wish to rent. Along with other amenities such as parking , gardens and renting either furnished or unfurnished the rental market is well catered for with plenty of choice.
While the rent charges in Guernsey are high when compared to other jurisdictions this is beyond the control of the landlord. As indicated on page 4 of the Amendment the type of people looking to rent are likely to be young families, people who work in low paid jobs and families not able to get on the property ladder. These are the very people who are less able to afford high rent, especially large families wishing to rent 3 beds and above. This is not the fault of the landlord. As previously stated most landlords will be achieving a net return of 4% on their investment which is not greedy by any standards. We strongly believe that we are providing a good standard of accommodation at the market price and not making excessive profits. This Amendment will do nothing to reduce the cost of renting.
In the majority of our dealings with the government and new legislation it is somehow implied that it is the landlord at fault and therefore new legislation is needed to keep us in line. We are almost being asked to operate like part of the social services, supporting the less well off in our society. While we sympathise with the position some sectors of our community find themselves in we are operating a business just like any other.
Given the choice, a lot of landlords would get out of the industry and invest the capital in other options with less hassle and no interference from government. Some 60% of our membership is over 60 years of age with very few younger Landlords entering the sector. The proposed new General Housing Law is the latest in a long list of directives, restrictions and law changes from the government and controlling /governing agencies that are impacting on the landlords’ ability to run and operate their business in a successful and profitable way.
This Amendment to the General Housing Law will not help renters with children in any positive way and we would strongly ask you to reject the Amendment.
Chair of GPRLA