Eviction Hearings

11.12.12 Updated on:

If you think you may be at risk of eviction, there are some steps you can take to be prepared.  This applies regardless of the reason for the eviction.

What can make you at risk of eviction?

There are many reasons, including your lease coming to an end and the landlord not intending to renew it, your landlord giving you lawful notice to vacate, or being in breach of one of the terms of your lease.

What should I start doing to prepare?

If you are looking for new accommodation and believe you may struggle to find something before you need to move, you should start keeping a log of all the efforts you are making.  This can include details of prospective landlords you have contacted, letting agents you are registered with, viewings you have attended, contact you have made with the Housing Advice Service, whether you have applied for the Housing Gateway, Housing Gateway properties you have expressed interest for or the reason why you are not eligible for the Housing Gateway.

How do I know formal proceedings have started?

If you fail to vacate by the end of your lawful notice period or when your lease expires, your landlord must apply for an eviction at the Petty Debts Court.  You will receive a Summons from the Court to attend an Eviction Hearing.  Only a judgment from the Petty Debts Court is a lawful eviction.  A letter from your landlord is not an eviction.

Paying rent during eviction proceedings

If a landlord continues to accept rent after notice has expired, the Court may say that the landlord has given up or waived the right to have the lease cancelled. This is because by continuing to accept rent from the tenant, the landlord has continued to accept the lease.

What to do when you receive a Summons

If you are eligible for Legal Aid, you should make an application immediately.  Legal Aid will allocate a lawyer to represent you at the Hearing.  The lawyer may not be able to stop the eviction, but they may be able to get you more time to move through requesting a Stay of Eviction.

To prepare for the Hearing, you should write a letter or e-mail to take with you explaining your personal circumstances, financial situation and how being evicted would affect you (your hardship).

Your personal circumstances should include details of who lives in your household, including any children, whether you are working and whether you are in receipt of any benefits, such as Income Support.  If you are in breach of your lease, you should explain why.  For example, the reason you have rent arrears and any steps you have taken to deal with these, such as taking debt advice from Citizens Advice Jersey.  You should detail your hardship, as explained below.

If you are registered with the Housing Gateway, you should ask them for written confirmation and an estimate of how long they believe it may take before you are allocated a property.  If you are not eligible for the Housing Gateway, you should explain why.

Hardship

The Court will take the following into account when assessing hardship.

For the landlord:

  • Landlord’s need for property to house family members
  • Landlord’s need for property to occupy themselves
  • Condition of property, if allowed to deteriorate by tenant
  • Non or late payment of rent
  • Tenant breaking the terms of the tenancy
  • Need to bring the property up to minimum standards

For the tenant:

  • Regular rent payment
  • Good conduct as tenant
  • Long duration of tenancy
  • Family circumstances, e.g. ages of children
  • Difficulty in finding suitable accommodation
  • Promise of re-housing by the Housing Gateway
  • Evidence the tenant has to show what efforts they have made to find new accommodation

What is a Stay of Eviction?

The Court has the power to grant you more time to find new accommodation.  This is called a Stay of Eviction.  The Court takes the circumstances of the tenant and landlord into consideration using their hardship to decide whether to grant a Stay of Eviction and if so, for how long.

What happens if I cannot move after the eviction date?

If the Court grants an eviction, it will issue a judgment stating the date the tenant must vacate by.  If a tenant fails to vacate by this date, the landlord can ask the Viscount’s Department to attend the property and remove the tenant.

The landlord must make any possessions left behind by the tenant available for them to collect.

Costs

The Court decides how the costs of the proceedings and legal costs will be allocated, but usually both sides pay their own costs unless there is clear evidence of malicious actions by one party. In this event the Court may award all or part of the costs to the other party.

FAQ

What is lawful notice to vacate?

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A landlord may only give notice to vacate in certain circumstances.

  • When a fixed term lease has a clause allowing the landlord to end it before the end of the fixed term by giving notice.
  • When a lease without a fixed term (periodic) or in the absence of a lease by giving three months’ notice.

No notice is required when a fixed term lease is coming to the end of the term.  Fixed terms leases are assumed to be ending, unless both parties agree otherwise.  We recommend seeking agreement in advance if you wish to remain in the property and getting it in writing.

If a landlord continues to accept rent after a fixed term lease expires, it becomes a periodic lease.

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What is a breach of a lease?

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Every lease has terms, such as how much the rent is and when it must be paid, not to cause a nuisance to neighbours and to keep the property in a good condition.  If a tenant does not comply with a term of their lease, they are in breach of the lease.  This gives the landlord grounds to serve seven days’ notice to rectify the breach.  If the breach is not rectified, the landlord can apply to cancel the lease and for an eviction.

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