Open to local market house moves proposed

OPEN MARKET residents may be able to move into the local market in return for allowing their properties to be taken off the open market register, if proposals to reform housing policy are accepted by States members.

(Picture By Peter Frankland, 30858394)
(Picture By Peter Frankland, 30858394)

In order to qualify, the open market property owners will need to have been resident on the island for 14 or more years.

The plan – yet to be finalised – was revealed in the monitoring report of the Government Work Plan, progress on which will be debated in the States next month.

It said an ‘agreement in principle’ had been made ‘to recommend the introduction of a new open market residency policy, in which an older resident who has lived here for 14-plus years can move to the local market if they forfeit an inscription for an open market property’.

Following the publication of today's Guernsey Press, Population and Immigration Policy Review Steering Group chairman Rob Prow subsequently provided more details.

He was keen to reassure the community that any policy proposed would not negatively impact either the Open Market or Local Market, or reduce the stock of properties available in either market.

‘As part of the Population and Immigration Policy Review, we have explored a policy, which would support older islanders above pensionable age who have lived in the Open Market for more than 14 years potentially downsize by moving into the Local Market in return for them giving up the Open Market status of their property, with that status then being switched to another property to ensure no loss of stock in either Open or Local markets.'

Currently, if a developer wishes to offer a newly-built property on the open market they will typically be told they have to de-register a local market property elsewhere and transfer the inscription. The monitoring report does not specify whether the inscription would be transferable or would revert to States ownership.

Consideration of the open market as an economic enabler was listed as an objective of the Population and Immigration Policy Review in its original terms of reference, along with ensuring that property rights are not ‘subject to unnecessary or disproportionate interference from the law’.

There are approximately 1,600 properties classified as open market in Guernsey, representing 7% of the housing stock. Some of these are hotels, residential homes and multiple occupancy houses.

The proposed changes relate only to those which are designated as private family homes.

No detail has been given as to the implications for the residential status of relatives of open market householders.

Currently, anyone moving to the island who has purchased an open market house can bring over their immediate and extended family members, including cousins. Residents of these properties, including the relatives, are able to work in the island as much or as little as they wish, although those who are not British citizens or Irish passport holders first need to obtain immigration clearance.

By contrast, those moving into local market housing – who are obliged to obtain an employment permit and have a full-time job lined up – can bring over only immediate family members.

Proposals are scheduled to be considered by the States by the end of September.

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