The law relating to residential tenancies has changed. Tenants are now more protected than they were previously. Landlords on the other hand have new obligations that they need to comply with, but may still not be aware of. Unwitting landlords beware; you could face penalties! The two major changes are the new tenant deposit scheme and the requirement for landlords to prepare condition reports.
The Residential Tenancy Law (Jersey) 2011 has been in force since 1st May 2013. It contains protections for the tenant but is also helpful to the landlord, in that it provides guidance on what should be in the lease, which will hopefully reduce disputes further down the line.
The law applies to all agreements for exclusive occupancy (i.e. not shared with landlord), for a value (i.e. rent), which are less than 9 years in length, or; ongoing for an indeterminate period, for a property which is deemed to be residential. For a property to be deemed residential by law, it must contain the following amenities as a bare minimum:
1. A shower or bath or other similar facility which is as (if not more) convenient, e.g. a wet room;
2. A washbasin;
3. A kitchen;
4. A sleeping space; and
5. A lavatory.
The law does not apply to licensees, boarders and lodgers, or to holiday lets of less than 3 months. If you are not sure if it applies to your agreement, take advice!
New obligations for landlords
Condition report – compulsory for every new tenancy agreement as of 31st October 2015. The penalty for not completing one is a fine of up to £2000. This must:
1. List all the fixed parts of a property and its condition.
2. List the condition of walls, ceilings and floors in each room.
3. List the condition of items which are in the inventory of contents belonging to the landlord.
4. Must be completed within 7 days of the tenancy agreement.
Further details and a draft condition report can be found on the States’ website.
Deposit scheme – compulsory for all new residential tenancies from 2nd November 2015. Failure to comply can result in a fine of up to £2000.
The Residential Tenancy Law states that tenants’ deposits must be held by a scheme approved for that specific purpose. Landlords must now put deposits into a scheme within 30 working days of taking it from the tenant.
The states approved scheme for holding deposits is mydeposits Jersey. They charge a fee which is currently £20 (+£1 GST). This is paid out of the tenant’s deposit. Further details of the scheme can be found at: www.mydepositsjersey.je
When the tenant moves out, so long as there are no disputes, the landlord can authorise mydeposits Jersey to release the amount (minus the fee) back to the departing tenant.
If there is a dispute with regards to deductions from the deposit which cannot be agreed between the tenant and landlord, the scheme provides an Alternative Dispute
Resolution Service (ADR) to help come to an agreement or compromise.
If you are a landlord and need specific advice on how these changes affect you or want help with a lease or a schedule of commission, Viberts can help. If you are a tenant, make sure that you have the greater protection you’re entitled to under this new law.