Leases – General Information / Notice / Evictions
Updated: 24 July 2017
Words you may need to know
Residential Tenancy (Jersey) Law 2011 (the ‘RTL’) – a new law which sets out rules about how leases should be managed (see below)
Lease – a legal contract to allow someone to stay in a property usually in return for payment
Basic principle – a simple rule
Peaceable enjoyment – when you are left alone to enjoy something and not interrupted
Falls under – when something is affected by something which controls it eg a law
Provision – term, rule
Premises – property
Common law – law that has developed from custom. (Statute law is made by government).
Obligations – requirement, responsibility, duty
Prior notice - to tell someone that something is going to happen so that they are not surprised and ideally have enough time to make other arrangements if necessary
Transfer – to hand something over; for property, to hand over possession to someone else
Implied – to give the impression of something
Renewal – when something is started again
By reference – when you judge something by comparing it with something else
Comply – to obey; do what is expected
Requirement – a condition; something you need to do if you are to be able to get something
Eviction – when someone is put out of a property usually with a court order
Topics covered in this page
- Landlords / Lessors/ Tenants /Leases
- Terms and Conditions of a Lease
- Residential Tenancy(Jersey) Law 2011 / Loi (1946) concernant l’expulsion des locataires réfractaires
- Types of Lease
- Renewal of a Lease
- Rent and Rent Reviews
- Cost of a Lease
- When Leases End – Notice Periods
- Going to Court to End a Lease - Eviction
- Other Reasons why a Tenancy may end
Landlords and lessors / Tenants and lessees
A Landlord is the person who owns a property which they allow other people to live in or ‘occupy’ usually upon payment of rent. A ‘lessor’ is the person who is entering into an agreement (‘lease’) with someone to let property.
The landlord is often the ‘lessor’ as well but sometimes a company owns a property (eg businesses often own buildings where their staff live) or a landlord may have ‘ a management company’ to look after their properties and a lease may be in the company or management company’s name.
A tenant or ‘lessee’ is the name given to someone who has an agreement (‘a lease’) to live in a property owned by someone. They enter into an agreement or ‘lease’ with a landlord / lessor to comply with the conditions in the lease in order to have the property.
A lessor signs the lease but some people will be ‘sub-tenants’ or ‘sub-lessees’ if their names are not on the lease but they live in the property because the tenant lets them and they have to obey the conditions of the lease as well.
A tenant can sometimes assign a lease (see below). In this case the lease is no longer their responsibility.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF A LEASE
The terms and conditions of a lease explain the things a tenant and landlord must do or obey while the tenant occupies the premises.
The terms will cover things like:
- the rent
- how long the lease is for eg one year; three years etc (its ‘term’.)
- payment for any rates, parking or utilities eg electricity
- not making a noise
- peaceable enjoyment
Note: The 'Term' of a lease is also the word used to describe how long the lease will last for eg a term of one year.
Residential Tenancy (Jersey) Law 2011 (the ‘RTL’)
Loi (1946) concernant l’expulsion des locataires réfractaires (‘the 1946 Law’)
These two laws regulate the relationship between landlords and tenants. However, the 1946 law is much shorter than the RTL and does not have the same detail or protections for landlords and tenants.
The RTL was introduced to make the way agreements between landlords and tenants work more modern and to make the processes and the law easier to understand. The law came into force on 1st May 2013.
Since 1st May 2013
- every new lease and
- any lease that existed before July 2013 and is subsequently modified (changed or varied) or
- which offers accommodation that fits in the definition in the RTL
has to comply with the RTL.
As the years go by more and more residential rental accommodation is falling under the RTL.
A lease that falls under the rules of the RTL is called a ‘residential tenancy agreement.’ There are clear rules about what terms must be included in a ‘residential tenancy agreement.’
The law can be found on:
More detail about the requirements of the law and how it works can be found on:
If the lease is not one that is covered by the RTL it is likely that the rules in the 1946 Law will apply.
These rules deal mostly with notice periods and eviction procedures. (see below)
TYPES OF LEASE
There are 3 types of lease in Jersey:
A 'periodic' tenancy is one that keeps running or continuing until notice is served so long as the rent is paid every period. The ‘period’ is calculated by when the rent is paid. For example, if rent is paid every month it is a ‘monthly periodic tenancy’. If rent is paid every three months it is ‘a quarterly periodic tenancy’ etc.
A ‘fixed term tenancy’ is created when the landlord and tenant sign a lease that has a statement or ‘term’ in it which says how long the lease is going to last for eg 2 years. This is the ‘fixed term’. The terms of a ‘fixed term tenancy’ may, or may not, have a term that allows the tenant to ask for a renewal of the lease.
A contract lease is a lease over property that has a length of 9 years or more agreed at the start of the lease. A contract lease needs to be presented to the Royal Court so that the details of it can be recorded in the Public Registry. Stamp duty must be paid by the tenant based upon the rent charged for the property.
What is needed for a Tenancy to exist :
A Tenancy exists only if the accommodation is self-contained (**see below) and if
the following five points are satisfied:
- The occupier has exclusive use of the accommodation ie Landlords cannot have unrestricted access – they cannot just ‘come and go’ when they want. (Usually the landlord holds a key for emergencies but the lease will prevent them for entering without giving notice (48 hours) and may say they can only visit between 9 am and 6 pm.)
- There is a fixed rental term ie weekly, monthly payments and notice
- Payment is made to the landlord and NOT to the owner of the property unless the owner is the landlord
- The tenant must be chosen by the landlord and not the owner of the property, unless the owner is the landlord
- The prospective tenant will have to prove residential status
** Self-Contained accommodation: Must contain a bath or shower, a washbasin, a kitchen or kitchenette a place to sleep and a toilet for the exclusive use of the tenant.
Note: If the tenancy is one that falls under the RTL other specific rules also apply
There is a common law duty on a landlord to keep their premises in a ‘fit’ or good condition.
Landlord responsible for repairs
Before carrying out any work the landlord should give prior notice to the tenant. The landlord should not force his way into the property to do the work.
If the landlord fails to maintain the property according to the terms of the lease, the tenant could ask the Court to order repairs to be done.
Anyone who wants to know more about this should get legal advice or speak to an Environmental Health Officer who has powers to act under the public health law.
Note: The RTL has terms which deal with the condition of property that is let and the responsibilities of landlords and tenants.
Tenant responsible for repairs
However, a landlord can pass responsibility for doing repairs to the property to the tenant. This happens if there is a term in the lease that says the tenant is responsible. A lease that has a term like this is called ‘a full repairing lease’. It is also possible to have a lease that gives the tenant responsibility for doing only some of the repairs – a ‘partial repairing lease’.
If a tenant with a full or partial repairing lease does not do any necessary repairs then the landlord can ask him to leave the property. The landlord can do this because not doing the repairs would be a breach of the terms of the lease. (see below ‘Breaches of a lease’)
Or, if the lease does gives the tenant the responsibility to repair the property and the tenant does not carry out the necessary repairs, the landlord may do the work. If this happens the landlord is allowed to ask the tenant to pay for the costs of the repairs.
RENEWAL OF A LEASE
A renewal of a lease is the name given to a lease which has finished but which the landlord and tenant agree to continue or start again. eg e fixed term lease of one year has finished. The landlord and tenant agree to continue the lease for another year so it is ‘renewed’.
A lease which started before the the RTL came into effect on 1st May 2013 does not have to comply with the RTL. However, if such a lease is renewed after 1st May 2013 the landlord must make sure all the terms that are required by the RTL are in the new ‘renewed’ lease if it does not already comply.
If a lease has a clause about renewal in it (‘a renewal clause’) the landlord and tenant can discuss renewal before the current lease runs out. If there is no renewal clause it will be up to the landlord if they want to consider a renewal.
However, if a fixed term lease does not have a renewal term the landlord does not have to discuss renewal. The tenant will have to leave the property when the fixed period ends unless the landlord agrees to start a new lease.
If a tenant is considering signing a ‘fixed term’ lease and they think they might want to stay longer than the fixed period in the lease they should ask the landlord if a renewal clause can be included in the lease before signing it.
A landlord may charge a tenant a fee for supplying a new lease.
The details of the length of the lease and the amount and method of payment of rent are normally contained within a written lease.
Note: For details about what details about rent and deposits are needed in a lease or ‘residential tenancy agreement’ covered by the RTL see:
Rent reviews may take place either at intervals during the course of a lease or at renewal. Reviews may be linked to inflation by reference to the Retail Price Index or ‘RPI’. (The RPI is a list of figures collected by the government every year about how much things cost.)
COST OF A LEASE
The landlord is entitled to pass on to the tenant the cost of having a lease prepared and written up. Sometimes this cost will be split equally between landlord and tenant, but quite often the tenant is asked to pay the full amount. A lease can cost several hundred pounds.
Usually the landlord asks for a sum of money to pay for the renewal of a lease, or any changes or amendments requested by the tenant, e.g. a change of the lessee's name.
A Contract Lease will include legal fees and stamp duties which may cost a lot. The assignment of a Contract Lease is also very expensive. Anyone considering assigning a Contract Lease is advised to get legal advice about the cost of an assignment.
Some leases include a clause allowing you to transfer the lease to another tenant. This is called an ‘assignment.’
If there is no mention of being able to assign the lease a tenant may wish to ask the landlord whether an ‘assignment clause’ could be included.
If there is an assignment clause it means that the tenant can leave the premises before the end of the lease without giving notice to end the tenancy so long as they have found someone to take on the lease.
Assignments can be acceptable to a landlord because the new tenant has taken on the responsibilities of the lease and the landlord does not have to look for a new tenant when the lease expires. Also, the landlord does not lose any rent because the lease is carrying on.
Sometimes an assignment clause will say that the new tenant must be acceptable to the landlord ie not just someone that the tenant says can have the lease without the landlord having met the person and being happy to have them in the property.
Unless a new tenant has been accepted by the landlord, and their name put on the lease, the existing tenant remains responsible for the payment of rent until the very end of the lease if the new tenant does not pay the correct amount.
A tenant who is assigning a lease should try to get written confirmation from the landlord that
- the lease has been assigned and that the new tenant’s name is on the lease and
- any money that the tenant owed eg for rent has been fully paid
- the landlord confirms they are not going to claim for a breach of the lease and releases the tenant from their obligations
- keys have been returned etc.
A tenant should also make sure that any utility or service bills in their name eg gas or electricity are paid up to the date when they leave the property and that the utility or service provider removes the tenant’s name from the account.
WHEN LEASES END
There are several ways a lease can end:
- because its term is over ( ie the date it is due to finish has arrived)
- because notice has been given
- following a Court Order because of a breach of the conditions by the landlord or tenant
If a tenant wants to break a lease they must check whether:
- the lease can be assigned
- whether a period of notice could be given (ie is it a fixed or periodic tenancy?)
- whether the landlord may accept a payment as compensation for breaking the lease
- if it is a lease under the RTL to see whether they can apply to the Court for the lease to be ended because of a failure by the landlord to meet certain terms ( see below)
If none of these things is possible then a tenant must accept that they will be responsible for the lease and all the terms and conditions of it
- until it finishes on the date the landlord and tenant agreed in the lease when they signed it or - until the necessary notice periods have been given.
If a Landlord wants to have a lease cancelled they should consider whether any of the conditions mentioned, or implied, in the lease have been regularly broken or if the tenant has not been paying the rent.
It is essential that the correct procedure is followed to end a lease in case an application to the Court is needed in the future to finally end the lease.
Notice periods to end or ‘terminate’ a lease
Notice periods for leases can depend on:
- when the lease was made and
- the type of lease it is.
Ending a ‘fixed term’ lease
When the fixed period of a lease comes to an end, and there is no renewal term, then the tenant's right to stay in the property ends. eg a 2 year fixed term lease will end when 2 years has passed since the date the lease was signed.
The landlord does not need to give the tenant any notice because the tenant knows when the lease will end. However a landlord will often write to a tenant about a month before the lease is due to end to remind them that the lease is going to finish. Sometimes the landlord and tenant will agree to start a new lease for the property when the other one ends.
If the tenant does not move out, the landlord can apply to the Court for an ‘eviction order’ sometimes called a ‘possession order.’ This means that the Court makes an order that the tenant must leave the property so that the landlord can have it back. (See below)
Notice to end or ‘terminate’ a periodic tenancy
Some periodic tenancies have notice periods in their terms and conditions.
Notice under the RTL
However, the RTL introduced minimum notice periods for anyone with a periodic tenancy which falls under the RTL. These minimum notice periods must be given:
- a landlord must give a tenant a minimum of 3 months notice
- a tenant must give a landlord a minimum of one month’s notice
Any lease for residential accommodation that is not under the the RTL is likely to be under the 1946 Law. This includes any lease for residential accommodation that was made before 1st May 2013 and which would be under the RTL except that it has not been renewed or varied since 1st May 2013.
Notice under the 1946 Law
If the lease is under the 1946 Law the landlord must give the amount of notice mentioned in the lease or if there is no term like that then the same amount of time as there is between rent payments. eg the tenant pays rent monthly, notice should be for a month.
If a landlord gives suitable notice to end a lease to a tenant under the 1946 law but the tenant has failed to leave the property, the landlord may apply to the court to get an eviction order.
Note: this rule does not apply to leases where the tenant pays rent weekly.
GOING TO COURT TO END A LEASE : EVICTION / POSSESSION
[For Practical Advice for Landlords and Tenants if an eviction order is a possibility see:
Before the Court makes an order for eviction of the tenant and re-possession of the property by the landlord it will take various things into consideration about the needs and circumstances of both the tenant and the landlord.
Both the RTL and the 1946 law have rules in them about how an eviction and re-possession of a property by a landlord will take place. As before the RTL has more detail in it especially about the things that the Court can look at if it is considering making the eviction order or putting ‘a stay’ or delay on an order being put into effect. The law that applies to the eviction (1946 or RTL) will be used by the Court but if there is any doubt then the terms of the RTL would be preferred by the Court.
It is therefore important to consider whether a lease is for residential accommodation which falls under the RTL or whether it is a lease under the 1946 Law.
Under either the RTL or the 1946 Law an action will start in the Petty Debts Court if the value of the annual rent for the property each year is less than £30,000. If the value is more than £30,000 the matter will be heard in the Royal Court.
See: Petty Debts Court (Miscellaneous Provisions)(Jersey) Law 2000
If an Order for Eviction is made it is sent to the Viscount’s Department. The Viscount’s Officers have authority to go to the property and take possession of it. They also have powers to remove any belongings left by the tenant.
Article 13 of the RTL for details of the rules about how an eviction order takes place if the lease is one under the RTL:
Article 4 of the Loi 1946 if the Eviction Order is made for a lease under the 1946 Law
If the Court delays making an eviction order and the tenant stays in the property the tenant would normally be required to pay for a new tenancy agreement to be created.
Additional reasons a tenant can apply to the Court to end a lease under the RTL:
If a case falls under the RTL there are a number of reasons why a tenant can bring an action against a landlord to ask the Court to end the lease.
- if a service element fails eg no gardener is provided when it was agreed there should be one - agreement not in writing
- details missing from the agreement
- no opportunity to read the lease before signing it
- premises uninhabitable
See: Articles 8 and 9 : www.jerseylaw.je/laws/revised/Pages/18.720.aspx
Note: A landlord can only bring an action for failure to quit the property and for eviction under the RTL
- after notice has been served or
- for breach of contract under the RTL.
See: Articles 11 and 12 : www.jerseylaw.je/laws/revised/Pages/18.720.aspx
There is no other way a landlord can break a lease unless the tenant is willing to agree to accept a period of notice for the ending of the tenancy.
OTHER REASONS WHY A TENANCY CAN END:
- Property ownership/or leasehold changes
- Landlord has ‘life enjoyment’ of a property
- Sale of a property
Property ownership/or leasehold changes
Where a sub-tenant holds a lease from a tenant whose own lease expires, the sub-tenant becomes the tenant of the landlord, and is known as a 'locataire réfractaire'. However, a tenant actually has no legal right to offer a lease to a sub-tenant for a longer period than their own lease (known as the ‘head lease’).
Landlord has ‘life enjoyment’ of a property
‘Life enjoyment of a property’ is when you do not own a property but are allowed to live in it for as long as you live. Such a person is called a ‘usufructuary.’
If the landlord has life enjoyment and dies the tenant becomes the tenant of the person who inherits the property. This person is called the ‘reversioner.’
Normally a tenancy that is granted by someone with life enjoyment ends when the landlord (the usufructuary) dies. Any tenant remaining on the premises may be evicted by the new owner of the property (‘the reversioner.’)
Dégrèvement is when banks or businesses apply to take over ownership of a property or a piece of land that is owned by a person or business who is unable to pay their mortgage.
For more detail see: www.gov.je/taxesmoney/debt/pages/debtcreditors.aspx
If there is a dégrèvement and ownership of the property passes to another person, the tenant with a lawful lease becomes the 'locataire réfractaire' of the new owners. However, the tenant may just choose to give up the lease.
Sale of a property
Where a property has been sold, provided the lease is mentioned in the contract of sale or there is a contract lease, the new purchaser is obliged to allow the existing tenant to stay in the property. The terms of the existing lease must continue.