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Jersey Housing Law

1. What legislation is involved?
 
1.1 The Housing Law of 1949 established the Housing Committee "to administer matters relating to the housing of the population". The Law, as subsequently amended, empowers the Committee "to control acquisitions, sales and leases" in order:

  1. "to prevent further aggravation of the housing shortage"; and
  2. "to ensure that sufficient land is available to house the inhabitants of the Island."
1.2 Key provisions of the Law include the following:
  1. anybody wishing to buy or lease property is required to have the consent of the Committee;
  2. the Committee is empowered to attach conditions to such consents with regard to the persons by whom the land or property may be occupied;
  3. the States are able to make Regulations to give full effect to the provisions of the Law relating to the control of sales and leases.
1.3 In 1970 the States made the Housing Regulations to assist the Housing Committee with the administration of the Law. These followed a period in the late 1960's when approximately one-third of all consents to purchase property were granted to newcomers to the Island or persons who had lived here for less than five years. The purpose of the Regulations was to help control demand for residential property in an Island where demand for property has for many years exceeded supply. They specify the categories of person who qualify to buy or rent property, and give the Committee discretion to grant consents in other cases.
 
1.4 Whilst these Regulations have been amended from time to time and subjected to detailed or general reviews on occasion, they remain largely unchanged from their 1970 version. They are described below, incorporating the most recent amendments agreed in January and March 2001.
 
 
2. Regulation 1(1)(a)
 
2.1 This Regulation applies to Jersey born persons who have lived in the Island for an aggregate period of at least ten years.
 
2.2 Somebody born in Jersey, and who has completed any period of ten years' residence in the Island (not necessarily continuous) can rent property at age sixteen and buy at age eighteen;
 
2.3 No restrictions are placed on the type (eg size, price, classification) of property which can be bought, leased or occupied by somebody qualifying under this Regulation, though certain properties are specifically restricted to first-time buyers.
 
2.4 Once qualified, a 1(1)(a) resident can never lose his residential status, irrespective of any time spent outside Jersey.
 
 
3. Regulation 1(1)(b)
 
3.1 This Regulation applies to a person who owned or leased dwelling accommodation prior to the Housing Law coming into force in 1949, and who has remained resident in such accommodation.
 
3.2 Effectively, the Regulation was designed to protect the position of those persons who do not satisfy the criteria of any of the other Regulations, but who owned or contract leased (ie a lease in excess of nine years) dwelling accommodation at the time the Housing Law came into force in 1949, and who remains resident in the Island. In the event of such persons emigrating, however, they lose their residential status.
 
3.3 Clearly, this Regulation is declining in significance as time passes and is now rarely, if ever, used.
 
 
4. Regulation 1(1)(c)
 
4.1 This Regulation applies to a person who owned or leased dwelling accommodation, the acquisition of which was a transaction exempt from the Housing Law.
 
4.2 In the main the Regulation refers to anybody owning or leasing accommodation acquired from the Crown, and who has remained resident in the accommodation.
 
4.3 Extremely few applications are received from persons under this Regulation. Moreover, if such persons emigrate, they lose their residential status, subject to the 'five year break' rule described in Regulation (2A) below.
 
 
5. Regulation 1(1)(d)
 
5.1 This Regulation applies to a person who has already been granted a consent to buy property, and has bought and occupied that property for the whole period commencing no later than six months from the date of the Committee's consent.
 
5.2 Certain persons are not able to transact under this Regulation, namely those whose previous consent was obtained under Regulation 1(1)(g), 1(1)(j), or 1(1)(k), or clauses (i) and (ii) of (n), all of which are described below.
 
5.3 Where a spouse without qualifications has purchased property under Regulation 1(1)(n) (see below) prior to 11 October 1995, that person is permitted to purchase or rent alternative property provided that they remain continuously resident in the Island. However, this does not apply to unqualified spouses who had purchased jointly with a person qualifying under Regulations 1(1)(g), 1(1)(j), or 1(1)(k) (see below).
 
5.4 A person satisfying the terms of this Regulation is free to rent or purchase an alternative property.
 
5.5 Anybody qualifying under this Regulation stands to lose their residential status if emigrating from the Island, subject to the 'five year break' rule described in Regulation (2A) below.
 
 
6. Regulation 1(1)(e)
 
6.1 This Regulation applies to a person who has rented property with the consent of the Committee for a continuous period of at least ten years immediately prior to an application to buy property.
 
6.2 The Committee is required to grant consent to somebody who wishes to buy or contract lease a property who has, with the consent of the Committee under these Regulations, either occupied property in the Island for a minimum and continuous period of at least ten years, or has previously been granted consent to lease or occupy property under Regulation 1(1)(j) and has been ordinarily resident under that consent for the whole of the ten years preceding the application.
 
6.3 Anybody qualifying under this Regulation stands to lose their residential status if emigrating from the Island, subject to the 'five year break' rule described in Regulation (2A) below.
 
 
7. Regulation 1(1)(f)
 
7.1 This Regulation applies to a person who has been continuously ordinarily resident in the Island for the previous fifteen years. Anybody satisfying the terms of this Regulation is free to buy or rent property.
 
7.2 Anybody qualifying under this Regulation stands to lose their residential status if emigrating from the Island, subject to the 'five year break' rule described in Regulation (2A) below.
 
 
8. Regulation 1(1)(g)
 
8.1 This Regulation applies to a person who does not qualify under any of the Regulations as such, but who would experience hardship (other than financial hardship), in the view of the Committee, if consent were not granted. The Committee has to satisfy itself that the degree of hardship which the applicant would suffer is sufficient to outweigh the fact that he has no residential status in his own right. Hence, unlike some of the other Regulations such as 1(1)(a), the applicant has no automatic right to a consent - it is granted solely at the discretion of the Committee.
 
8.2 Consent may also be granted where the hardship in question is incurred not by the applicant, but by others.
 
8.3 Typical examples of applications under this Regulation which the Committee receives are:
  1. unqualified spouse of residentially qualified person who is left alone, with or without children, following desertion by or death of the qualified partner;
  2. unqualified person with significant residence who becomes seriously ill or handicapped;
  3. non-Jersey born person who had lived in the Island as a qualified resident for many years but who lost those qualifications by emigrating and who wishes to re-establish residential rights after a period of absence.
8.4 The Committee considers each application under this Regulation on its merits. It has an obligation to be consistent in the manner it administers the Regulation. Its decisions can be open to challenge, at a Review Board or in the Courts from those who argue that they have been treated less favourably than others in similar circumstances under this Regulation.
 
8.5 Whilst the Committee is required to exercise its discretion under this Regulation, it must also bear in mind its statutory duty not to aggravate the housing shortage.
 
8.6 Any person who has been granted a consent under this Regulation stands to lose their residential status if emigrating from the Island, subject to the 'five year break' rule described in Regulation (2A) below.
 
 
9. Regulation 1(1)(h)
 
9.1 This Regulation applies to a person who is not Jersey born but who:
  1. arrived in the Island before their twentieth birthday, and
  2. is the child of a residentially qualified person, and
  3. has lived in the Island for an aggregate period of at least ten years.
9.2 This Regulation also applies to any person whose parents would lose their qualifications by leaving the Island where that person:
  1. is not the child of a person qualifying under Regulations 1(1)(j) or 1(1)(k), and
  2. arrived in the Island prior to their twentieth birthday, and
  3. is in the process of qualifying under this Regulation, or has already qualified when their parents leave the Island.
In this situation that person will retain their ability to qualify under this Regulation provided that they remain continuously ordinarily resident from the date on which their parents lose their qualifications.
 
Once qualified, such persons will lose their residential qualifications if emigrating from the Island, subject to the 'five year break' rule described in Regulation (2A) below.
 
9.3 Any person whose period of residence on the Island:
  1. is less than ten years, and
  2. commenced after their twentieth birthday and who would have been entitled to continue to aggregate periods of residence toward qualification under this Regulation in force prior to 12 October 1995, will no longer be able to qualify unless they were ordinarily resident in the Island on 12 October 1995.
9.4 Any person ordinarily resident in the Island on 12 October 1995, who started to qualify under this Regulation after their twentieth birthday will still be able to complete their period of qualification in terms of an aggregate of ten years residence.
 
9.5 Where reference is made to 'children' this includes legally adopted children and stepchildren, subject to certain provisos.
 
 
10. Regulation 1(1)(j)
 
10.1 This Regulation applies to a person whom the Committee accepts as being essentially employed in the Island and where the Committee is satisfied that consent can be justified 'in the best interests of the community'.
 
10.2 Under this Regulation, the Committee has discretion to grant consent to essential employees to purchase or rent property, or to require such employees to be housed in accommodation owned or leased by their employers.
 
10.3 Along with Regulation 1(1)(g), this regulation involves the exercise of considerable discretion on the part of the Committee. It has to be consistent in its decisions and has to bear in mind the effect of its decisions on its duty to prevent further aggravation of the housing shortage.
 
10.4 The Committee consults extensively with the Chief Adviser to the States before consenting to applications from private sector employers; and with States administering and employing Committees before consenting to applications from the public sector.
 
10.5 The main criteria against which the Committee considers each application are as follows:
  1. the contribution made to the Island by the employer - eg in terms of tax revenues, service provided, etc;
  2. the significance of the post in question to the achievement of that contribution;
  3. the track record of the employer in the recruitment and training of local people;
  4. evidence that there is not a satisfactory local candidate for the post in question.
10.6 Once the Committee is satisfied that an application is justified, it may issue a consent which is open-ended in time, or one which is time-restricted. For very senior, highly specialised employees, consent is normally unrestricted in time.
 
10.7 In January 1987 the States, as part of its Immigration Policy, asked the Housing Committee to make time-restricted consents wherever possible. The objective was to encourage employers to use the time for which consents were granted usefully by training residentially qualified persons to take over from essential employees when time-restricted consents expire. This would minimise employers’ requirements for essential employees which would in turn minimise their demand on the housing stock.
 
10.8 Whilst most consents granted since that time are time-restricted, the Housing Committee does have discretion to grant extended consents where it considers these to be justified. Such applications need to satisfy the following requirements:
  1. the employer engages in activities that have been, and continue to be, of significant benefit to the Island, and the employee concerned makes a substantial contribution to the activities from which that benefit is derived;
  2. the refusal to grant the consent requested would have a significant and detrimental effect on the benefits derived by the Island from the activities of the employer;
  3. the employer has a satisfactory record, and is continuing to participate actively, in the training of persons with residential qualifications;
  4. the experience and/or qualifications required clearly suggest that there is no prospect in the foreseeable future of the post concerned being filled by a person with residential qualifications;
  5. the employee concerned has already resided in the Island for at least three years with consent under Regulation 1(1)(j), and also has been with the applicant employer for that period.
Regard may also be had to whether the person has made, and is continuing to make, a contribution to the Island community in addition to the benefit derived from the activities of his employer.
 
10.9 Once an employee is granted a consent under this Regulation, he is permitted to occupy property, normally owned or leased by his employer, which is classified as available to persons qualifying under Regulation 1(1)(j).
 
10.10 Where an employee completes a continuous period of ten years' essential employment in the Island under this Regulation, the Housing Committee accepts that employee as having residential status in their own right under Regulation 1(1)(e). His status is no longer dependent on his continued essential employment, but residential qualifications will be lost if he should emigrate, subject to the 'five year break' rule described in Regulation (2A) below.
 
10.11 The child of a person qualifying under Regulation 1(1)(j) is granted residential status in his own right once an aggregate period of ten years residence has been completed which must commence prior to his twentieth birthday and is subject to the parent(s) remaining qualified during the time in which the requisite period of residence is completed.
 
 
11. Regulation 1(1)(k)
 
11.1 This Regulation applies where the Committee is satisfied that consent "can be justified on social or economic grounds".
 
11.2 Consent under this Regulation is normally granted where the Committee is satisfied that the applicant will make a major contribution to the Island's tax revenues if he were to reside in Jersey. No specific criteria are applied and each application is considered on its merits. The Committee consults with the Chief Adviser to the States on each application received.
 
11.3 The general criteria against which individual applications on economic grounds are considered are as follows:
  1. likely contribution to tax revenues;
  2. business/social background;
  3. number of dependants and the extent to which these may in time acquire housing rights if consent is granted;
  4. other, non-economic benefits which the Island may receive if consent is granted.
11.4 Consent on purely social grounds (ie in view of other, non-economic benefits which the Island may derive from the residence of a particular person) may also be granted.
 
11.5 The availability of substantial properties outside the financial reach of the vast majority of local residents is an important issue in the administration of this Regulation.
 
11.6 There are no limits on the number of consents the Committee may grant each year under this Regulation, although in practice the number tends to be small (approximately 5 per year).
 
11.7 Residents who obtain consents under this Regulation are able to buy only property specifically classified or approved as suitable for their occupation. These are invariably very substantial, expensive houses or luxury flats.
 
11.8 If a '1(1)(k) immigrant' emigrates from the Island, he loses his housing status
 
11.9 The child of somebody qualifying under Regulation 1(1)(k) is granted residential status in his own right once he has completed an aggregate period of ten years residence, provided this residence commenced before the child's twentieth birthday.
 
 
12. Regulation 1(1)(l)
 
12.1 This Regulation requires the Committee to grant consent to the following:
  1. an Association incorporated by the States and approved by the Queen in Council (eg Société Jersiaise);
  2. (b) a Trust created on application to the Royal Court or an Association incorporated on application to the Royal Court. The purpose of a Trust or Association so incorporated must relate to at least one of the following:
    Sport, The Arts, Religion, Education, Charity, Public Utility
12.2 The Committee is entitled to attach local occupancy conditions to any consent granted.
 
 
13. Regulation 1(1)(m)
 
13.1 This Regulation requires the Committee to grant consent to a "recognised religious body" seeking to purchase or contract lease residential property.
 
13.2 The Committee is entitled to attach local occupancy conditions to any consent granted under this Regulation.
 
 
14. Regulation 1(1)(n)
 
14.1 The Regulation enables a non-qualified person to join in the purchase or contract lease of a property with his or her qualified spouse. Consent is granted for a specific transaction and does not bestow upon the non-qualified spouse any further residential status under the Regulations.
 
14.2 Any person who is ordinarily resident in the Island and is married to a person qualifying under any Regulation except Regulation 1(1)(k) will gain residential qualifications in their own right to rent or purchase property after ten years ordinary residence in the Island with that residentially qualified spouse. Anybody qualifying under this Regulation stands to lose their residential status if emigrating from the Island, subject to the 'five year break' rule described in Regulation (2A) below.
 
 
15. Regulation 1A
 
15.1 This Regulation relates only to renting property. All persons qualifying to purchase, with the exception of those qualifying under Regulation 1(1)(n) paragraphs (i) and (ii), and Regulation 1(1)(k) will also qualify to rent property. (Regulation 1(1)(n) paragraphs (i) and (ii) refer to unqualified persons transacting with (or jointly with) their qualified spouse). Persons may rent property from age 16.
 
15.2 All persons wishing to rent property must apply to the Housing Department before taking up occupation of the property, the only exceptions being those detailed in Regulation 5 (see below). Failure to do so may result in the prosecution of both landlord and tenant.
 
 
16. Regulation 5
 
16.1 This Regulation enables three categories of resident to rent accommodation without the prior consent of the Committee, provided that both landlord and tenant submit written particulars of the transaction to the Committee within 14 days of entering into the transaction. The exempted categories are:
  1. Jersey born persons, age 16 or over, who have resided in the Island for an aggregate period of ten years or more;
  2. (ii) persons who have previously been granted consent under any of the provisions of Regulation 1(1)(h);
  3. (iii) persons entering into a lease by an individual ordinarily resident in the Island of a furnished dwelling, being his principal place of residence, on a single occasion in the course of a calendar year for a term not exceeding three months.
16.2 An exempted transaction application form is available from the Housing Department and most estate agents and lawyers offices. Within the terms of the Law the form must be completed by landlord and tenant and delivered to the Housing Department WITHIN 14 DAYS of entering into the transaction.
 
16.3 Those wishing to rent accommodation who do not satisfy the terms of (i), (ii) or (iii) in paragraph 16.1 are required to complete an alternative form, available in the Housing Department, estate agents and lawyers offices, and are not legally entitled to enter into the transaction until Housing Committee consent has been given.
 
16.4 Anybody making use of the exempted transaction procedure may be requested by the Department to provide proof of residential status (eg birth certificate, details of school or employment records) if this has not already been established with the Department.
 
 
17 'Continuous' and 'Ordinary'
 
Residence and Regulation (2A),
 
Breaks in Residence
 
17.1 The Regulations for the most part require residents to be 'ordinarily' resident in order to (i) acquire residential status and (ii) retain it.
 
17.2 The expression 'ordinary residence' simply means that for all practical purposes Jersey is somebody's place of abode. Clearly a person can be physically outside the Island while continuing to be ordinarily resident in Jersey. For example, somebody owning or renting property here, or occupying lodging accommodation, but who is on holiday elsewhere, or on a training course, or on a short job secondment, or at University, remains ordinarily resident in Jersey.
 
17.3 Some categories of resident (for example Jersey born persons or the non-Jersey born children of residentially qualified Jersey persons) need only show an aggregate period of ordinary residence in order to acquire housing rights, provided it totals at least ten years. Other residents can acquire the right to rent and buy property if their residence is continuous. In the case of the former, ordinary residence need only be aggregate in order to qualify; in the latter case, ordinary residence must be on a continuous basis.
 
17.4 The same principle applies to the retention of residential status once acquired. Whereas Jersey born persons and the non-Jersey born children of Jersey born parents having once qualified need not maintain ordinary residence in the Island in order to retain their housing status, other categories of resident lose their residential status if they break their ordinary residence in the Island - ie by emigrating.
 
17.5 Regulation (2A) (five year break rule). A new provision introduced in October 1995, and amended in March 2001, that allows persons who have gained their qualifications under Regulations 1(1)(b), 1(1)(c), 1(1)(d), 1(1)(e), 1(1)(f), and certain categories of Regulations 1(1)(h) to leave the Island for a single period of up to five years without losing their qualifications.
 
 
18. Forces Policy
 
18.1 On 10 October 1995, the States approved a number of amendments to the Regulations, which have been incorporated within this leaflet. One outstanding matter is to give legal effect to the Committee's Forces Policy. Under this policy time spent outside the Island by a local resident in Her Majesty's Armed Forces, and by a child living with his parent(s) during this time, is deemed to have been spent in the Island for the purposes of the Regulations.
 
18.2 The Committee will continue to administer the 'Forces Policy' as fairly as possible until such time as formal amendments to the Housing Regulations are brought to the States for consideration.
 
 
19. Regulation 2
 
(Although this Regulation obviously comes before Regulation 5 in the 1970 Regulations, for the purpose of these notes we are referring to it after commenting on Regulation 5. This is simply in order to group together those Regulations which relate to renting - ie 1A and 5.)
 
19.1 Under this Regulation the Committee may grant consent to a company to purchase a residential property where it is satisfied that to do so will not be detrimental to the interests of the community on housing grounds. Hence a company does not have an automatic right to purchase residential property.
 
19.2 The following are examples of company purchase:-
  1. purchase by a company proposing to build flats on the site in question;
  2. purchase by a company proposing to build houses on the land, provided a legal undertaking is given that all houses built will be sold out of the company;
  3. purchase by a company for occupation by an approved essential employee;
  4. purchase by a 1(1)(k) resident to occupy.
 
20. General
 
20.1 Copies of the Housing Laws and Regulations are available from the States Greffe Book Shop, Morier House, St. Helier.
 
20.2 These guidelines are necessarily general and simplify more complex legal provisions. Anybody wishing to know more about the provisions should feel welcome to contact the Law and Loans Section of the Housing Department.
 
P.O. Box 587, Jubilee Wharf,
 
The Esplanade, St. Helier, Jersey JE4 8XT
 
December 2003 - www.housing.gov.je


 
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