Covid-19: The suspension of landlords' eviction rights in Jersey

26 Mar 2020

In light of the more stringent restrictions and forced business closures introduced by the UK government on 23 March, the States of Jersey are considering a hardening of their anti-coronavirus measures to stop the spread amongst Jersey's population.

As Jersey continues to limit the population's ability to go out in public and businesses continue to suspend trading, there are an increasing number of Jersey residents who will not be able to work and, consequently, who will struggle to pay their rent.

Residential tenants
Jersey law already provides substantial protection for residential tenants. In Jersey, an eviction requires an order of court and, in order to be able to facilitate the successful application to the court, there is a relatively convoluted process for landlords to follow.

Jersey's Magistrate's Court has announced that all eviction cases before the Petty Debts Court will be adjourned. A number of social housing providers, letting agents and management agents, in addition to the Jersey Landlord's Association, have confirmed to Ministers that they will not be pursuing evictions during the Covid-19 outbreak.

In order to limit the impact the adjournment of eviction cases may have on landlords, there are indications that the States of Jersey will introduce a suspension of the landlord's mortgage repayments although details are not yet available.

Commercial tenants
A number of businesses, particularly retail and hospitality, have closed their premises to the public and (in many cases) suspended trading. As a result there will be a considerable number of businesses for whom the business interruption means they are not able to pay their rents.

There has been no specific confirmation regarding the treatment of any evictions for commercial tenants. However, a commercial landlord's ability to evict their tenants whilst the Covid-19 pandemic subsists is likely to be politically sensitive and not looked on favourably by the courts.

Practicalities
As a result of the pandemic, the courts have already adapted a number of court practices with the aim of reducing possible cross-contamination. The temporary measures have postponed a large number of cases until later in the year, already. As a result, landlords are likely to face substantial barriers to prompt enforcement in the event of their tenant's default.

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