As a landlord, it is not quite as simple as owning a property and renting it out to a tenant. There are certain legal and practical elements that need to be applied and the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords have been codified into the Residential Tenancy (Jersey) Law 2011.
Residential Landlord’s responsibilities under the law
As a landlord in Jersey, you are bound by a strict set of rules that make your responsibilities clear. The full text of the Residential Tenancy (Jersey) Law 2011 can be viewed here but this guide is exactly that – a guide. If you require specific legal explanations, please instruct a firm of solicitors who specialise in Jersey property law as they will be best placed to advise you.
In addition, this guide presupposes you already have a property to rent. If you do not and you are looking for a guide to buying property in Jersey, please refer to the guide on our website.
The first thing you need to do is to ensure that the property you are intending to rent is fit for purpose. Is the size, position and condition of the property commensurate with the rent you intend to charge? Is it clean, free of damp and generally suitable for a tenant to move in and is the property free from disrepair, structural irregularities and in a condition fit for occupation?
A condition report is a way for a landlord to record the physical condition and state of repair of a property when a tenant moves in and when they move out.
From 31 October 2014, they will be compulsory with every tenancy agreement.
A condition report documents:
- all the fixed parts of a property
- the condition of walls, ceilings and floors in each room
- any fixtures, fittings and furniture which belong to the landlord and come as part of the tenancy
Reports must be completed within seven days
It’s compulsory for the landlord to complete a condition report within seven days of the tenant agreeing to live in the property.
If a condition report isn't given after seven days, the report is taken as accepted to the extent that it's completed.
If a condition report isn't completed at all, the landlord could be fined up to £2,000.
From Monday 2 November 2015, any deposits placed to rent a home must be protected in the States’ approved tenancy deposit scheme, mydeposits Jersey.
Deposits are protected for the length of the tenancy and will be paid back to the tenant if they:
- meet the terms of the tenancy agreement
- don’t damage the property
- pay their rent and bills
You must put your tenant’s deposit in mydeposits within 30 days of receiving the money.
It’s an offence to not put your tenant’s deposit in the scheme and you could have to pay a fine of up to £2,000.
New, renewed or varied tenancy agreements from 2 November 2015
You must place your tenant’s deposit in the tenancy deposit scheme if you sign a new tenancy agreement with your tenant on or after 2 November, or you renew or vary an existing agreement.
You can also voluntarily place your tenant’s deposit in the scheme even if you have a tenancy that is not yet due for renewal.
Click here to go to the full website for all the information.
The two types of tenancy in Jersey
In Jersey, there are two types of tenancy agreement:
Paper Lease – this tenancy agreement runs for nine years or less and covers most residential tenancy agreements. Paper leases do not require registration, nor is the tenant liable for Stamp Duty
Contract Lease – a lease covering tenancy periods of nine years or more, or for nine years or less where there is an option during the term to take it over nine years but this is rare on a residential lease. This agreement needs to be registered at the Royal Court and is subject to Stamp Duty payable by the tenant
Lease conditions with which you must comply
Under the law, you must provide your tenants with a signed copy of the lease (as well as at least 24 hours for the tenant to read it, understand it and take advice if necessary) and a receipt for the deposit. In addition, a new lease must:
- comply with the new legislation
- describe the self-contained unit to be leased to a tenant
- include the start date of the residential tenancy
- include the end date of the tenancy agreement (if known)
- include the full contact details of the landlord and/or managing agent
- include the rent amount and frequency of payment as well as the name of the person to whom the rent is paid
- include the deposit amount, where it is held and how and when it will be reimbursed
- include the date of the rent review and the basis on which it is to be reviewed
- include a full inventory of the contents supplied and owned by the landlord
A new lease must not include:
- any obligation for the tenant to buy any of the fixtures or fittings in the property or to pay a premium or key money
- any restrictions on the tenant fixing items to walls (or removing items from walls) providing the tenant makes good any damage caused
- the facility to delay or unreasonably withhold responses to issues that require your consent
It is also useful to note that as a landlord in Jersey (as well as agents, officers and managers), it is a criminal offence to interfere in the peaceful possession of the property by the tenant without reason. If, as a landlord, you believe that the tenant has broken the terms of the Tenancy Agreement (and that they have failed to act after being given fair notice of the alleged breach as well as an opportunity to correct it), they can be evicted through the Petty Debts Court.
The court needs to be satisfied that your tenant has, in fact, broken the terms of their Tenancy Agreement.
Ending a Tenancy
Landlords need to give at least three months’ written notice in order to terminate a Lease and the tenant must give at least one months’ written notice although the Housing Minister may vary these timeframes at his/her discretion. If one or other of the parties breaches the terms, no written notice is required and this also goes if both parties are in agreement to end the tenancy.
In addition, the Petty Debts Court can serve an eviction order if the tenant fails to leave the property at the termination of the lease. Again, this should be considered a guide to being a landlord in Jersey.