Relationships and housing
The Housing Regulations
Most purchases or leases of property in Jersey are subject to conditions set down in the Control Of Housing and Work (Residential and Employment Status) (Jersey) Regulations. The Regulations require the consent of the Housing Minister as to who may purchase, lease and occupy property subject to the person’s length of residence, occupation, or certain other qualifications. These Regulations sometimes have an effect on couples planning to live together or to separate.
Housing and co-habitation
Private rental accommodation – Entitled
Either partner or both partners should have Entitled Status to rent an Entitled private flat or house, but the tenancy must be in the name(s) of the Entitled partner(s). This may result in a sole tenancy. See also Ending relationships and housing.
Private rental accommodation – Registered or Lodgings
If neither partner has Entitled Status, the couple will only be able to occupy Registered accommodation or lodgings. Such accommodation can be occupied in single or joint names.
Registered persons occupying private lodgings with shared facilities do not have security of tenure and may be asked to vacate the property at any time.
Social Housing- Affordable Housing Gateway
The Affordable Housing Gateway is used by all social housing providers to ensure that available homes go to those people who are in greatest need.
An existing social housing tenant may only move a partner in after seeking and being granted permission. If the partner also has Entitled Status, the tenant could apply to the social sousing provider for the sole tenancy to become a joint tenancy.
Owner occupied accommodation
If a person wishes to move into their partner’s home and they both agree that ownership of the property should be shared, they must seek legal advice about changing the legal title of the property to joint ownership.
It is not possible for an unmarried couple to own property jointly unless they both have Entitled Status. Owning a property jointly gives equal rights, security and responsibility. It is possible for the sale of the property to be forced by an owner in common even if the other disagrees. See Joint ownership of property.
Couples sometimes purchase property in the name of one Entitled partner only, planning to transfer the property into joint names upon marriage. Such couples should be warned that they will have to pay stamp duty on the transactions twice. See Stamp Duty.
Share transfer property
As properties bought by share transfer do not come under the control of the Population Office, it is possible for unmarried couples where one partner does not possess Entitled Status to purchase property jointly as the Entitled partner would have received housing consent to occupy the property. The Registered or Entitled to Work partner has to occupy the accommodation as a lodger and if there should be a separation or death of the partner with Entitled Status, the Registered or Entitled to Work partner could not stay in the property without consent from the Population Office.
The Licenced resident can buy or lease any property in their own name provided they keep their Licenced Status. The spouse of a Licenced person can enter into the purchase of qualified property. The Minister for Hosing may apply special conditions to Licenced status therefore in the event of a separation, the spouse of the Licenced person may not be able to stay in the property and equally may not be able to lease or buy qualified property until they obtain Entitled Status in their own name.
The Matrimonial home
There are no statutory provisions in Jersey to give couples rights and responsibilities to the Matrimonial Home as there are in the UK.
Private rental accommodation – Entitled and Licenced
A married couple where only one partner has Entitled Status will not be able to obtain a joint tenancy on private rental accommodation which requires entitled status. The Registered partner becomes the lodger of the Entitled partner, who is the tenant. The exception to this is where the couple wish to take on a contract lease i.e. nine years or more, when a Registered spouse may join in the transaction.
Private rental accommodation – Registered and Entitled for Work
Married couples without Entitled Status can rent in the Registered sector.
Owner occupied accommodation
The rights of each partner to the marital home depend on whether or not it is jointly owned and to some extent, whether there are children of the marriage.
In terms of housing status, it does not matter whether a couple choose to purchase property in joint or sole name, as the spouse of a person with Entitled Status is permitted to join in the purchase and occupy the property, even if they do not have their own Entitled Status. A Registered or Registered to Work married person gains Entitled Status after living ten years in Jersey.
Sole ownership means that only one partner’s name appears on the title to the property and they are solely responsible for that property. It has the following implications:
- The owner has a right of occupation unless a court order prohibits this, for example if there has been violence.
- The married partner has a right to occupy the home if it is their main marital home, but this right could be removed during separation or divorce proceedings. There is no automatic right to a share of the proceeds if the property is sold following separation or divorce.
- The married partner can prevent the owner from selling or re-mortgaging the property as part of divorce proceedings.
- If the owner dies, the spouse has a right to a share of the property whether the owner has made a will or not, but does not automatically become the owner.
- A home in sole ownership can be transferred into joint names, for example, where one partner owns the property before marriage. Stamp duty will be charged at £5 per page (minimum of £10) regardless of the value of the property.
A couple who jointly own their property have the following rights or responsibilities:
- Both partners have rights of occupation and neither partner can be forced to leave after the marriage has ended, even if they do not have Entitled Status in their own right, without a court order.
- A jointly owned home can only be transferred into one person’s name with the permission of the partner or by order of the court in cases of separation and divorce, subject to the transfer being approved by the Population Office.
A married couple where either or both partners have Entitled Status may apply to the a Social Housing provider for a flat or house, but the Social Housing provider only has a responsibility to house persons over pension age, who have a disability or couples with children. In addition applicants are means-tested and therefore those persons with incomes above a certain level will be ineligible for assistance.
Married couples are normally given a joint tenancy, and there is equal responsibility on both partners to pay the rent.
Share Transfer Property
People with Registered or Entitled for work status can only occupy Share Transfer property if there is at least one person with Entitled or Licenced Status occupying. In the event of separation or death. the Registered or Entitled to Work spouse would need to apply to the Minister for Housing consent to remain in the property. Consent may be granted depending on the hardship.
Transferring Ownership of Property
Ownership can be transferred by an application to the Royal Court. Legal advice should be taken on the process and costs.