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LOCAL INFORMATION

11.1.14
 

Residential Tenancy Law / Agreements / Regulations and Orders / Condition Reports

 

   Extent: Jersey
   Updated 24 July 2017

 

Words you may need to know

 

Residential - relating to housing, a place to live

Responsibility – something you have to do; a duty. If it goes wrong you take the blame.

Tenancy - staying in a property and paying  rent

Varied - changed or altered

Renewed  -  when something is started again, re-issued

Categorised – put in a group or class with the same qualifications

Comply – do what you are supposed to do

Expired - ended / finished

Obligations - a duty to do something

Compulsory - necessary, required by law

Deterioration - to become or make something worse in quality, value, or strength

Remedy – to put something right again

Hardship – when you suffer or struggle because you do not have basic things eg a home

Breakdown – here, a set of figures that explains how an amount has been reached or calculated

 

 

Residential Tenancy (Jersey) Law 2011 (‘RTL’)

For the text of the RTL see:      www.jerseylaw.je/laws/revised/Pages/18.720.aspx

 

See also:  Landlord and Tenant Rights 

www.gov.je/home/rentingbuying/housinglaws/pages/tenantrights.aspx

 

 

This law came into force on 1 May 2013. It aims to make it easier for tenants and landlords to understand their legal rights and responsibilities when they enter a ‘residential tenancy agreement’ for a ‘residential unit’.

 

The words ‘residential tenancy agreement’ and ‘residential unit’ are intended to refer to agreements or leases for living accommodation but the law has some clear definitions of what these words mean. In order for the law to apply these definitions must be satisfied.  (See Articles 1 and 2 of the RTL)

In simple terms a ‘residential tenancy agreement’ (or ‘lease’) is entered into by a ‘lessor’ or ‘landlord’ (the person who is providing the property for someone to live in) and the ‘lessee’ or ‘tenant’ (the person who is going to live in the property.)

Definition of ‘residential tenancy agreement’
The definition of  ‘residential tenancy agreement’ under the law says that the person or people who sign the agreement to live in a ‘residential unit’ must

- be allowed to have the unit or property for themselves (‘exclusive occupation’)

- pay for it (‘for value’)

- have use of the unit or property for
   - a specific time of up to 9 years or less ie a ‘fixed term lease’ (eg a lease for 2 or 5 years)    
     or    
   - a lease with no fixed length of time or finish date (a ‘periodic tenancy’).

The ‘period’ in a periodic tenancy is the length of time between each date that payment of the rent is due eg a lease where rent is paid every month and which keeps running until notice to quit is served. (See ‘Ending a Lease’ below)
 

Definition of a ‘residential unit’
A residential unit is self-contained accommodation used only by the occupants. It does not have shared facilities (i.e bathroom/kitchen are not shared with anyone else) and must contain all of the following:-

·         A bath or shower

·         A washbasin

·         A kitchen (kitchenette etc)

·         A place to sleep

·         A toilet

 

What if a lease started before the RTL came into force?

The Law will apply to any leases made before the Law came into force if they are:

-          varied (ie have anything changed  in the terms of the lease or a new term added) or

-          renewed

after 1 May 2013, the date the Law came into force.

This means that Landlords do not have to automatically replace any leases that they agreed with a tenant before the 1st May 2013. However, if they vary or renew such a lease, or if they start a new lease, after 1 May 2013 all the terms must comply with the RTL. This means that a landlord may need to change some of the terms of a lease he used before the RTL came into force. 

Note: A landlord must give a tenant at least one working day to read a new lease or a lease that is being renewed of varied (see RTL Article 8(4) for full details )

Note: The RTL does not apply if a lease finishes but the parties just keep it running without making any changes (this is called 'tacit reconduction').

What are the minimum terms that should be in a lease under the RTL?

All leases under the RTL must be written and signed by the landlord and lessee.

Note: Each lease is different and a landlord or tenant is advised to get legal advice before acting or doing anything.

There are several terms that must be included in a lease under the RTL including

- a description of the property

- who the lessor and lessee are

- how much the rent is; how it is to be paid; details of any rent  review

- start and end date (if any) of the agreement 

- details of any deposit and how it is to be repaid

- inventory of contents owned by the landlord

For more details about all the minimum conditions see:

www.gov.je/home/rentingbuying/housinglaws/pages/tenantrights.aspx

A lease under the RTL also needs a Condition Report – see below.

Note: There are no such things as 'standard' leases although the Population Office has a 'Standard Form of Written Contract for Exemption from Rent Control' for private landlords and their tenants. Copies are available at Citizens Advice Jersey or you can download a "Word" version here.

Increase in rent – is it a change under the RTL?

If a lease says that the rent will go up every year ‘in line with the rise in the cost of living’ or ‘RPI’ that is not a change or variation in the lease. But if the lease did not have a term like that or if the rent went up more than the cost of living then it would be a change. The RTL would then apply to the lease.

For more about the RPI see:

https://www.gov.je/government/jerseyinfigures/businesseconomy/pages/inflation.aspx

Note: Since the introduction of The Control of Housing and Work (Jersey) Law 2013 on the 1st July 2013 residential property is now categorised as either:

- Entitled – this can be permanent or may have a date printed on the card if the person is not permanently entitled.   The date is usually 5 years from the date of issue.

- Licensed (previously ‘J category’) or

- Registered (previously ‘unqualified’).

Leases are now available to Registered persons who wish to rent in the Registered sector. The  lease will fall under the RTL as long as the property is a ‘self-contained unit’ as defined by the RTL.

Tenants rights under the  Residential Tenancy (Jersey) Law 2011

The tenants’ rights include a right to:

-  get a signed copy of the lease and any new versions of it, as well as a copy of the fully
  signed lease

-   have their deposit paid into the Tenants Deposit Scheme (see below)
- get a receipt for any deposit paid
- enjoyment of their accommodation without the landlord interfering
- not have to pay full rent if part of the accommodation becomes uninhabitable (as long as
   the tenant didn't cause the problem)
- at least one working day to review the lease before signing

If a landlord does not provide a receipt for a rental deposit or a signed copy of a lease then they could get a fine.  Most landlords pass the £21 administration fee charged by the Deposit Scheme to their tenant.

Notice periods under the RTL

If the lease is for a fixed term tenancy the landlord does not have to give any notice to the tenant.

If it is a periodic tenancy then a landlord must give three months notice and a tenant must give one month’s notice. 

For more detail see:  www.gov.je/home/rentingbuying/housinglaws/pages/tenantrights.aspx

Notice must be written.

A tenant can apply to the Court to have a lease terminated (ended) under the RTL if :

- any service element fails (eg a gardener is supposed to maintain the garden and does not)

- the residential tenancy agreement /lease is not in writing

- details are missing from the agreement /lease or the tenant is not given the chance to read it

The Court can also end the agreement if the landlord interferes with the tenant’s enjoyment of (ie privacy) of the property.


Eviction under the RTL

‘Eviction’ is when somebody is ‘put out’ of a property and not allowed to live there anymore.

Under the RTL a residential tenancy agreement can be ended by eviction of the tenant

-           for their failure to leave a property once notice to terminate has been given, article 11 or

-           if the tenant has failed to remedy a breach of the agreement, article 12

However, the landlord must serve the tenant with notice 
to cease the conduct that constitutes the breach, or to take reasonable steps within 7 days after the service to rectify the breach, or to do both those things

For full details see Articles 6 – 13 of the RTL ‘Remedies’ which deals with termination of a tenancy and  Eviction, here Residential Tenancy (Jersey) Law

The Court has the power to consider various things before they order an eviction eg who would suffer the most hardship if an eviction is ordered – the landlord or the tenant?

For full details see Article 14 – 15 of the RTL www.jerseylaw.je/laws/revised/Pages/18.720.aspx

 

Regulations and Orders made under the Residential Tenancy Law

Since the RTL came into force there have been several Regulations or Orders under the law.

These Regulations and Orders add additional legal requirements that are intended to improve the relationship between landlords and tenants. Anyone who commits an offence by not complying with these additional Regulations and Orders is liable to a fine.

Residential Tenancy (Supply of Services) Jersey Order 2013

This Order deals with the supply of services such as electricity, gas, water and drainage services to a tenant. These services are often called ‘utilities’.

The Residential Tenancy (Supply of Services) Jersey Order 2013, came into force on 1st October, 2013. Under this Order a tenant is entitled to a breakdown of any services that they are being charged for. A flow chart clearly showing how the law works is available by clicking here.

For more detail see:  www.jerseylaw.je/laws/revised/Pages/18.720.75.aspx

 

Residential Tenancy (Deposit Scheme) (Jersey) Regulations 2014

For the Regulation see: www.jerseylaw.je/laws/revised/Pages/18.720.20.aspx

The above Regulations were approved on the 9th July 2014.  The Regulations establish the framework for a compulsory system for the holding of deposits received by landlords of residential property. The Jersey government signed a contract with a tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme ‘mydeposits Jersey’ to protect tenants’ deposits from being unfairly withheld.  

The scheme applies to all residential agreements which are entered into, varied or renewed  after the 2nd November 2015.

Under the scheme, landlords and agents in Jersey have to protect their tenants’ deposits with mydeposits Jersey within 30 working days of receiving them or risk fines of up to £2,000.

Under the scheme there is also an Alternative Dispute Resolution service available which can be used by tenants if they feel that their deposit is being unfairly withheld. Dispute Resolution is when people who are involved in a disagreement or argument are helped by another person or ‘third party’ to sort out their problems without going to court.

For further information see:  Deposit Protection in rented accommodation

See also:  www.mydepositsjersey.je

 

Residential Tenancy (Condition Reports) (Jersey) Order 2014 (the Order)

For more information, click here

This Order imposes a legal obligation on every landlord under a residential tenancy agreement to produce a condition report at or before the start of the residential tenancy.

The Reports are compulsory and record the condition and state of repair of a property at the start and end of a tenancy. The order applies to all new residential tenancies created from 31 October 2014 and applies to varied or renewed tenancies if landlords and tenants wish.

If, at the end of the tenancy, the landlord wants to make a claim against the tenant because they think that the condition of the residential unit has got worse since the tenant moved in, the landlord must again produce a condition report.

Many leases allow for what is called "fair wear and tear" which means that usual living deteriorations are not included.

To find out more about condition reports and to download a Report Form see:

https://www.gov.je/home/rentingbuying/housinglaws/pages/conditionreports.aspx