Residential Tenancy Law
Residential Tenancy (Jersey) Law 2011 (‘RTL’)
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.
For the text of the RTL see here.
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
- pay for it
- have use of the unit or property for
- a specific time of up to 9 years, which is a fixed-term tenancy
- a lease with no fixed length of time or finish date, which is a periodic tenancy.
The period in a periodic tenancy is the length of time between each date that payment of the rent is due e.g. one month.
Definition of a residential unit
A residential unit is self-contained accommodation used only by the occupants. It does not have shared facilities 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 (i.e. they have anything changed in the terms or a new term added) or renewed after 1 May 2013. This means that landlords do not have to automatically replace any leases that they agreed with a tenant before the 1st May 2013. 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. A landlord may need to change some of the terms of a lease before the RTL came into force.
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.
The RTL does not apply if a lease made before 1st May 2013 finishes but the parties keep it running without making any changes.
What are the minimum terms that should be in a lease?
All leases under the RTL must be written and signed by the landlord and lessee.
Each lease is different and a landlord or tenant is advised to read it carefully 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 and 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 here.
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. If the lease did not have a term like this, it would be a change. The RTL would then apply to the lease.
For more about the RPI see here.
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 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.
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 MyDeposits
- 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
- 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, they could get a fine. Most landlords pass the £21 administration fee charged by MyDeposits to their tenant.
If the lease is for a fixed term tenancy, the landlord does not have to give any notice to the tenant unless a term of the lease states otherwise.
If it is a periodic tenancy, a landlord must give three months’ notice and a tenant must give one month’s notice.
Notice must be written. E-mails and text messages can count as being in writing.
A tenant can apply to the Court to have a lease terminated if:
- any service element fails e.g. a gardener is supposed to maintain the garden and does not
- the lease is not in writing
- details are missing from the 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 the property.
Eviction is when somebody is removed from a property and are not allowed to live there anymore.
A lease can be ended by the eviction of the tenant
- for their failure to leave a property once notice to terminate has been given
- if the tenant has failed to remedy a breach of the agreement.
The landlord must serve the tenant with notice to cease the conduct that constitutes the breach or to take reasonable steps within 7 days to rectify the breach.
The Court has the power to consider various things before they order an eviction e.g. who would suffer the most hardship if an eviction is ordered.
Supply of Services
This deals with the supply of services such as electricity, gas, water and drainage services to a tenant.
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.
This is a compulsory system for the holding of deposits received by landlords of residential property 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 within 30 days of receiving them or risk fines of up to £10,000.
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
For more information, click here
There is 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, 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 become worse since the tenant moved in, the landlord must again produce a condition report.
All tenancies allow for what is called fair wear and tear, which means that usual living deteriorations are not included.