The Residential Tenancy (Condition Reports) (Jersey) Order 2014 applies to all tenancy agreements made after 31 October 2014, making it compulsory for landlords and tenants to complete a condition report at the beginning and end of a residential tenancy. A new report may be prepared when that tenancy is renewed or varied, but this is at the discretion of the landlord and tenant and they may choose to rely upon the original report.
A condition report is a good way for the parties to record the state of repair and decoration of a property when a tenancy begins and terminates. It must be completed in writing (and may include photos) and must bear the signatures of both parties noting their agreement (or disagreement) with its contents and record:
- the state of repair of each room; and
- the condition of the landlord's fixtures, fittings and movable property
The Order provides a time frame within which a report must be completed and the landlord may be liable to a fine of up to £2,000 for failing to comply.
Property condition reports are standard practice in the UK and many Jersey landlords already use them. Landlords can continue to use their own form of report so long as they contain at least the minimum required information but a template can be downloaded from the states website.
The Housing Minister Deputy Andrew Green, who has overseen their introduction, says that making these reports compulsory will help avoid rental disputes; he also recommends taking photos.
A deposit protection scheme will be introduced for all residential tenancies in Jersey on 2 November 2015 (pursuant to the Residential Tenancy (Deposit Scheme) (Jersey) Regulations 2014 and the Residential Tenancy (Deposit Scheme) (Amendment) (Jersey) Regulations 2015). Landlords and their agents of any new tenancy agreement (or one which is varied or renewed) will be obliged to enter into an agreement with the scheme administrator, Mydeposits, and to place the deposit monies with them within 30 days of the date of the lease. Any landlord failing to comply with this risks a fine of up to £2000.
The scheme aims to remove the risk of tenants' deposits being withheld unfairly by landlords or managing agents when a tenancy comes to an end and will assist landlords and tenants in the management of deposits.
The scheme is not retrospective although a landlord may choose to pay a deposit into the scheme if he wishes.
The cost of the scheme has been publicised at c.£21 and this will be deducted from the deposit when it is released.
A government-backed tenancy deposit scheme has operated in England and Wales since 2007, and separate schemes also operate in Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, unlike the UK where there are several national scheme providers offering either insurance or custodial model-based schemes, Jersey will have a single custodial tenancy deposit scheme with Mydeposits.
When the tenancy agreement ends, if the landlord and tenant agree to the amount of deposit to be repaid in whole to one party or in part between them, the scheme administrator will be notified and must release the amount promptly albeit this may mean a week or two. In the event of either party disputing how much deposit money should be returned to whom, the scheme administrator will hold onto the deposit until the dispute has been resolved. This will follow either the parties coming to an agreement between themselves, upon the decision of the adjudicator to a dispute resolution process, or by order of the Petty Debts Court. One of the main components of the deposit scheme is the provision of access to a free and independent alternative means of dispute resolution (ADR) service to which cases will be referred and resolved, where parties cannot agree on the amounts to be returned between themselves. This should encourage a quick, fair and cost-effective means of resolving disputes over deposits without the need to go to Court.
For more information about any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.