Control of housing changes
The new Control of Housing and Work (Jersey) Law 201– looks set to come into effect by the end of this summer. As with the existing Housing law, it will continue to control occupation and ownership of property in Jersey. It remains to be seen how the law will work in practice, but it does seem as if it will make administration simpler while also giving greater rights to current "J" cats and non-qualifieds.
The cumbersome and lengthy categorisation of Housing qualifications will be replaced by four categories of residential status as follows:
Entitled – this effectively covers the current "A-H" and "K" qualifications. Entitled status can be obtained after 10 years' continuous ordinary residence. The current law entitles a person with such continuous ordinary residence to be absent from the Island on one occasion for a period of no more than five years without losing their qualifications. An improvement to the new law is that you can leave the Island for an aggregate period not exceeding five years without losing Entitled status. Further, if you collate 20 years' continuous ordinary residence, this will give permanent Entitled status i.e. you will be treated as if you were Jersey born, and which status cannot be lost however long you are absent from the Island.
Licensed – this is effectively the new word for those people holding "J" cat "essentially employed" status. The application process will be the same as under the current law and the Housing Minster can issue a licence which is time limited or restricted to rental only. A Licensed person will only be able to acquire one property. Whereas the current law only allows a "J" cat to purchase through a company, which is both costly and administratively unwieldy, the new law will allow a Licensed person to purchase in their own name subject to undertakings to sell the property should they lose their licensed status/vacate the property.
Entitled for Work – this is acquired after five years' continuous residence. It also applies to the spouse of a person with Entitled, Licensed or Entitled for Work status.
Registered – this applies to all Jersey residents who do not qualify under the above three categories.
A person's categorisation will be recorded on a registration card which will be issued to him/her. A current Jersey resident will need to apply for a registration card if they are purchasing or leasing property, as will all newcomers to the Island who are ordinarily resident for more than three months. The registration card will hold your name and social security number, the card issue date, expiry date (if needed) and your residential status. Some people will therefore never need a registration card - for instance, those who do not work or do not move out of their current homes.
Categorisation of accommodation
All units of residential accommodation will be recorded on an online register, which will be publically available and maintained by the Housing Minister. There will be two types of accommodation:
Qualified Housing – all existing properties that are currently controlled by the Housing law will remain qualified and any new residential properties will also be qualified. They can therefore be purchased/occupied by people falling within the Entitled or Licensed categories. A person who inherits a property after the law comes into effect will still be able to occupy it.
Registered Housing – all existing unqualified properties, such as lodging houses will become registered. Anyone can live in these and they are able to lease any self-contained units, thereby giving them tenancy rights unlike under the current law. This in turn will mean that a landlord will have to comply with the new Residential Tenancy (Jersey) Law 2012, which is also due to come into force this year.
Control of occupation
The way the new law will work in practice is that a prospective purchaser or tenant of property will have to show to their lawyer or their landlord a valid and appropriate registration card and further evidence that any conditions of their status (as set out on the card) are fulfilled at that time. Certain registration cards will need validation by the Population Office e.g. non permanent Entitled persons will need to prove that they have remained in Jersey since their card was last validated. Companies will need the consent of the Housing Minister to buy or rent, save that no consent will be required when a company leases non-residential property for more than nine years.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.