Landlords and tenants responsibilities
Landlords have a responsibility to maintain their properties so that they are wind and watertight and to keep in good repair the exterior and communal areas of the premises.
Tenants are normally required to keep the interior of the premises and all fixtures and fittings clean and in good decorative repair and condition.
As there may be specific requirements attached to a tenancy, any written lease should be referred to before the client is advised to take action.
Notifying the landlord
If a tenant is unhappy with the condition of their accommodation, they should draw the matter to the attention of the landlord or their agent and ask for matters to be put right. If the problem has not been rectified within a reasonable period of time, the tenant should complain in writing.
If it is later proved that the accommodation becomes uninhabitable through no fault of the tenant, the tenant may not have to pay full rent. Advice should be sought from Environmental Health before reducing or stopping rent, as doing so without their agreement is a breach of the lease and puts you at risk of eviction.
Causes of poor housing conditions and damp
A lot of letting accommodation in Jersey utilises the older properties which have inherent building problems such as rising damp and porous walls. Damp problems may also be exacerbated by poor ventilation where windows have to remain closed all day for security reasons. If dampness results from condensation produced by steam from cooking, drying laundry and bathrooms, ventilation by extraction can be very successful. De-humidifiers may also help. Tenants could ask for these measures to be installed by the landlord to alleviate damp.
See information provided by the Environmental Health Department entitled Safe as Houses and Condensation Advice available for tenants, landlords, agents and home owners.
Environmental Health Officers
If the problem with the accommodation is likely to be injurious to the long term health of the tenants, the Environmental Health Officers could be contacted at the Environmental Health Department on +44 1534 445808.
As a last resort, if all previous avenues have failed, the tenant can seek legal advice to ascertain whether the landlord has breached the terms of the lease and require him to rectify the condition of the property under an Act of the Court.