In July 2011 the States approved the Control of Housing and Work (Jersey) Law 201- (the "Law"). The Law, which is expected to come into force in the Summer of 2012, is the culmination of years of detailed policy-making and consultation since the States approved its Migration Policy in 2005.
The purpose of the Law, as its preamble puts it, is "to establish a registration process for residents of Jersey and to make provision for the control of work and housing". Essentially, the Law provides a single statute, replacing the Housing (Jersey) Law 1949 and the Regulation of Undertakings and Development (Jersey) Law 1973, to regulate the two issues which most directly impact upon the population of the Island, namely who can work here and who can live here.
The Law is a complex piece of legislation and the purpose of this article is just to highlight some of its key aspects insofar as the control of housing is concerned.
Categories of Jersey Residents
All Jersey residents will be categorised as one of the following:
- Entitled. This equates to the "(a) to (h)" qualification under the current Housing Regulations. Entitled status will be able to be obtained after 10 years' continuous ordinary residence. In contrast to the current system, a person who has obtained Entitled status on this basis will be able to leave the Island for aggregate periods not exceeding 5 years without losing entitled status. Furthermore, 20 years' continuous ordinary residence will confer permanent entitled status which cannot be lost however long one's absences from the Island thereafter.
- Licensed. This equates to the '(j) category' (essentially employed) qualification under the Housing Regulations.
- Entitled for Work. This status will be acquired after 5 years' continuous residence, reflecting current policy in regard to 'locally qualified' persons under the Regulation of Undertakings legislation.
- Registered. This will cover all Jersey residents who do not qualify under any of the other categories set out above. Registration
A person's categorisation will be recorded on a registration card issued to him or her. A Jersey resident will be required to register as soon as any of the following triggers first applies to him or her:
- Completion of 3 months' continuous ordinary residence in the Island;
- Entering into a property transaction;
- Starting new work.
Categories of Properties
All units of residential accommodation will be recorded on a publicly-accessible register maintained by the Minister under one of the following categorisations:
- Qualified. Essentially, this will cover all units which are currently subject to occupation control under the Housing legislation as well as units created after the Law comes into force.
- Registered. This will cover all other units.
The Law makes provision for the maintenance of particular conditions and concessions which attach to a unit before the Law comes into force. It also enables the Minister to change of categorisation of a particular unit or the conditions/concessions which apply to it, either on the application of the owner of the unit concerned or of the Minister's own volition (subject to a right of appeal for the owner).
Control of Occupation and Property Transactions
Subject to limited exceptions, qualified residential units will only be able to be occupied by entitled or licensed persons.
Acquiring property by way of freehold or on any kind of lease will require the production by the acquirer to the other party or parties to the transaction of his or her registration card, it will need to be shown that any conditions to the status set out on the card are fulfilled at that time. Since all parties to the transaction will commit a criminal offence if the acquirer does not have the requisite status at the time, the Law makes provision for the Minister to verify that a person continues to meet the conditions for maintenance of his or her status. Apart from this verification mechanism, there will be no equivalent of housing consents for individuals (as opposed to companies and other 'legal persons') acquiring property.
Unlike the current position in regard to (j) category persons, Licensed persons will be able to purchase and lease properties in their own names.
Licensed for work and registered persons will be able to take 'paper' leases (i.e. leases for terms not exceeding 9 years) of registered properties.
Commercial Property Transactions
No form of consent will be required for leases (whether 'paper' leases or 'contract' leases) of purely commercial property. However, a company or other 'legal person' taking a lease of residential property, or acquiring the freehold of commercial or residential property, will require the consent of the Minister.
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.