Changes introduced to residential lettings in Jersey
20 December 2018
There has been a landslide shift in Jersey over the past five years in landlords’ obligations towards their tenants. The States have stepped in to regulate what had previously been perceived to be a sector that was open to abuse.
A summary of the main changes is set out below.
Public Health and Safety (Rented Dwellings) (Jersey) Order 2018
Following the introduction on the 1 December 2018 of the Public Health and Safety (Rented Dwellings) Order, landlords are now forced to meet minimum standards in their rental accommodation to ensure that rented property does not pose a risk to the health and safety of their tenants.
Under the Order, landlords have a legal obligation to:
- install a smoke alarm on every storey;
- install a carbon monoxide alarm in any habitable room with an oil, gas, wood or coal heater;
- ensure the alarms are kept in full working order; and
- annual 'gas safe' inspection; and
- electrical inspection before any new tenant or every five years.
The same standards will apply across all rented homes, including private sector, social housing and staff accommodation.
The Order also gives Environmental Health Officers the power to enter premises and assess the risk of harm. They can take immediate action if the tenant is deemed to be at an imminent risk of serious harm.
The signing of the Order is part of ongoing work to improve rental standards in Jersey, to bring them up to the standards of other jurisdictions. Other initiatives include the tenancy deposit scheme, condition reports and the recently launched Rent Safe Scheme for landlord accreditation.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Since 2 December 2015, any deposits given to rent self-contained accommodation must be protected in the States’ approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme: mydeposits Jersey, within 30 days of the date of the lease.
Deposits are protected for the length of the tenancy and will be paid back to tenants if they:
- meet the terms of the tenancy agreement;
- do not damage the property; and
- pay their rent and bills.
If a deposit is not placed in the mydeposits scheme, the landlord can risk a fine of up to £2,000.
A condition report is a means by which the landlord can benchmark the physical condition and state of repair of a property at the start of a tenancy and then use the report at the end of term to record any deterioration in condition. Condition reports were introduced to try to reduce the number of disputes when tenancies come to an end.
Since 31 October 2014, with every tenancy agreement, a landlord will be required to complete a condition report within seven days of a tenant agreeing to live in the property.
If a condition report is not completed, the landlord could risk a fine of up to £10,000.
Rent Safe Scheme
Rent Safe is an existing voluntary accreditation scheme for landlords which gives potential tenants information about a home they might rent. It provides tenants with a list of landlords that have reached the accredited minimum standard required with a 3, 4 or 5 star rating.
Tenants can search for accredited landlords here.
Overall, these changes have brought much needed protection and clarity for tenants and have brought Jersey's housing standards in line with other jurisdictions.
If you would like further information, please talk to our property experts.