What is considered property in Guernsey?

Property in Guernsey is divided into movable property and immovable property. Immovable property is defined as that property which cannot be moved from one place to another and which follows or is associated with the land. Parcels of land are immovable, as well as all things incorporated in the earth such as houses and other buildings, trees, shrubs.

As Guernsey law does not recognise a lease of immovable property as creating any interest in real estate and a lease is classified as movable property, long leases at a premium are almost unheard of and the concept of leasehold has never developed. Accordingly it is not possible to take security in Guernsey over a lease, irrespective of the length of the term.

Notwithstanding that leases do not create an interest in real estate nor are capable of being charged, the growth of the finance sector in the last few decades has resulted in the development of a significant amount of commercial property with lettings to tenants up to 21 years with rent payable annually.

While many principles applicable to the letting of commercial property in Guernsey are similar to those in the UK, the absence of any landlord and tenant legislation means that it is the law of contract alone that regulates the relationship that exists between landlords and tenants. Careful negotiation of lease terms is therefore very important and specialist advice should be sought.

How is land in Guernsey owned?

Guernsey law does not have the concepts of freehold and leasehold but has one form of ownership of land - 'enfin et de perpetuité d'heritage' ie. absolute title in perpetuity. There is a more limited enjoyment for life that can be created but these are a rarity and invariably reflect close familial or relationship ties.

Can I buy an apartment in Guernsey?

Yes, and it will be absolute title in perpetuity as Guernsey law has long recognised that land could be severed horizontally. The position was further clarified and owners of property given enhanced powers to enforce covenants in 1987, which permitted the development of purpose built apartments across the island.

How is the use of land determined?

The use and development of land (planning) in Guernsey is controlled by the Land Planning and Development (Guernsey) Law, 2005 and written policies that are enacted into law for a 10 year period (subject to extension by resolution on a vote of the States of Guernsey).

The current policies and plan are titled the "Island Development Plan 2016" and came into force on 2nd November 2016. An integral part of the written policies is an island wide proposals map that identifies certain location- specific policy areas in which certain policies apply in addition to the general policies.

The plan directs how land in Guernsey can be used or developed in order to meet the housing requirements of the population and the commercial needs of businesses while maintaining the natural beauty of the island.

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