29 May 2013
Islanders have been given a further opportunity to give their views on a draft law on housing conditions in Jersey.
Deputy Anne Pryke, Minister for Health and Social Services, has agreed to reopen the public consultation into the Public Health and Safety (Dwellings) Jersey Law 201-. Comments may now be submitted until Friday 7 June, and an extra public meeting, plus a briefing for States Members, will both take place on Tuesday 4 June.
Deputy Pryke told States Members that the proposed law would help to protect some of the most vulnerable members of the community from housing that was, in the worst cases, atrocious. She stressed that officers from the Environmental Health Department would only investigate cases where they had been a complaint or referral from another agency. The new law would provide support for Environmental Health in cases where negotiation with landlords failed to remedy a problem, and was likely to result in cost savings through reducing the chances of a vulnerable resident requiring hospital treatment.
Inadequate housing conditions can cause health problems with the following two categories of health risk:
- physical health. Cold and dampness, indoor pollutants, poor design quality and safety hazards are some of the housing related problems that may lead to excess winter deaths, the prevalence of asthma and other respiratory diseases and accidental injury. The risk of fatality in premises which have inadequate fire precautions and means of escape where accommodation is shared.
- social and mental well-being. Problems such as noise, overcrowding and the feeling of being ‘trapped’ in poor quality accommodation can affect mental health and apply pressure to social well-being.
Key features of the draft law include:
- Minimum health and safety standards with respect to dwellings and providing a mechanism for improving health and well-being. Such standards will include a toilet with drainage, a fixed bath or shower, hot and cold water supply, a kitchen sink, a means of cooking food, freedom from dampness, and being in a reasonable state of repair
- Promoting the health and safety of persons in and about dwellings along with the conservation of energy and water supplied to dwellings, and for authorizing inspectors to take action on the Minister’s behalf
- The Minister may issue codes of practice to provide practical guidance in respect of any provision of the law
- It allows an Environmental Health Officer to identify prescribed hazards and assess the level of risk posed by each hazard and take appropriate action
- This action may include the issuance of an improvement notice, requiring the taking of action to remove the hazard or reduce the risk posed by it to an acceptable level, a prohibition notice, banning occupation of the dwelling until such action is taken or in extreme cases, a demolition notice requiring the dwelling to be demolished.
The passing of the new Law will be subject to the usual political processes, once the Health and Social Services Department has taken on board feedback received during the public consultation process.
Members of the public are encouraged to attend the open meeting, which will take place on Tuesday 4 June at 6.30pm at the Town Hall