The information provided on this page offers a useful guide to buying a house or other property in Jersey. This information is also available to download in our Finding a Home guide. For more information about moving to Jersey please get in touch with a member of the team on +44(0)1534 440604 or email email@example.com.
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Finding a property in your preferred part of Jersey
With a gentle slope from the cliffs in the north of the Island to the sandy bays of the south, Jersey’s landscape changes subtly from north to south, east to west.
The north coast rises into gorse-clad cliffs and dips into sheltered bays and fishing harbours. The Atlantic-facing west coast is defined by the long sandy beach of St Ouen’s Bay with its sand dunes, shorebreaks and surf spots. The east and south coast is generally lower-lying, a mixture of long sandy beaches and rocky headlands. Jersey’s astonishing tides - the third largest in the world - expose wide stretches of sand and rocky seabed out to the south east, almost doubling the Island’s size.
The west of the Island is often popular with newly arrived property hunters as many properties enjoy sea views over this pretty coast and it is conveniently close to the airport and St Helier. For others, proximity to their choice of school is key and your estate agent will be able to advise most appropriately on homes in your preferred area. If proximity to your choice of school for your children is important to you then it should be a factor when looking for a property.
A key thing to be aware of is that it’s not uncommon for properties to be ‘offmarket’, held on a confidential register which an estate agent can share with suitable purchasers at his or her discretion. All property sales and leases are overseen by Jersey’s Housing Department alongside the Population Office who deal with residency.
Image: Jersey's 12 parishes and key bays
Types of Jersey property
Jersey’s 45 square miles are home to a varied selection of property options from contemporary sea view properties to traditional granite farmhouses and elegant country homes.
A sea view
The Island’s landscape provides a perfect environment for contemporary homes designed to make the most of their coastal setting. From luxury penthouse apartments to modern beach houses or landmark properties overlooking the sea, Jersey has a range of locations which frame a sea view perfectly.
Jersey manors and farmhouses
Jersey’s traditional farmhouses and ancient manors are constructed from local stone - Jersey granite and Chausey granite (quarried on the Chausey archipelago 15 miles south of Jersey, and shipped back to the Island) with thick walls and, if they’re built before 1700 - round arched doorways. Many of the Island’s larger farmhouses are listed, and a few are now used as historical centres like Hamptonne or The Elms, home of the National Trust for Jersey. Notable manor houses include St Ouen’s Manor, home of the de Carteret family, Rozel Manor, owned by the Lempriere-Robin family, St John’s Manor and Trinity Manor.
The Island’s peaceful landscape provides a perfect environment for contemporary homes designed to make the most of their setting.
Between 1932 and 1939, architect Arthur Grayson designed and built an array of modernist style buildings in Jersey. His work includes the internationally recognised Les Lumieres, the Glass Church and the extension to the seat of Jersey’s Government. Contemporary developments often reinterpret his style.
Many of Jersey’s fine houses dating from the 18th and 19th century came from the exceptional profits made through the North Atlantic cod trade for families involved in Jersey’s fishing industry, earning them the nickname of ‘cod houses’.
The proportions of cod houses often follow a symmetrical layout around a central staircase, similar in style to the English Georgian house with high ceiling heights, quality plasterwork and woodwork. External rendering was considered a status symbol, and more elegant than a traditional granite finish, and off cuts of timber from the shipbuilding industry were sometimes used in roof construction.
A notable feature of these houses is the use of hardwoods such as mahogany brought back as ballast from the Americas and used in fine staircases. According to tradition, if the newel post at the bottom of the banister of the main staircase has an inlaid button of ivory or mother-of-pearl on top, the house was paid for outright.
There are few green field development sites left in Jersey. The majority of development sites are categorised as brown field - previously developed land that is not currently in use or under-utilised and offering redevelopment potential.
Development sites suitable for high value housing with valid planning consent frequently command a premium price, for the scope they offer to create a landmark building, designed to the exact requirements of the client.
As with any property development, expert professional local advice is required to maximise the potential yield of the site and guide you through the design, statutory approval and construction phases of the project. For more information on planning regulations, please turn to page 33 or turn to page 34 for useful property development contacts.
The boundaries of a property are described verbally (not by plan) in title contract and usually consist of walls, boundary stones and other physical enclosures. The relocation of boundary stones is restricted by law.
Images: Courtesy of Fine & Country Jersey
Jersey has no slate, so any roofing slate is imported from Wales, Normandy or Brittany. Roofs of older houses are generally covered with reddish clay Jersey pantiles or even thatch.
jersey Residential status & Property
In Jersey, the right to buy and occupy residential property is controlled by law. Jersey residents fall into one of four categories (see below), with some restrictions placed on the property they can buy and occupy. For more information on residential qualifications please see our Residency & Immigration page.
Entitled Someone who has lived in Jersey for ten years. If you are ‘Entitled’ you can buy, sell or lease any property. High Value Residents (HVRs) are granted this status with conditions around continuing to meet obligations.
Licensed Someone who is employed by or who owns a trading Jersey business which must have permission to employ/be owned by a Licensed person. A Licensed employee can buy, sell or lease any property, apart from first time buyer restricted or social rented housing, in their own name as their sole place of residence in Jersey so long as they keep their ‘licensed’ status.
Entitled for work Someone who has lived in Jersey for a continuous period of five years immediately before the date of issue of their registration card, or is married or in a civil partnership with someone who is Entitled, Licensed or Entitled for Work. If someone has Entitled for Work status they can buy property jointly with an Entitled or Licensed spouse/civil partner, and can lease ‘Registered property’ as a main place of residence in their own name.
Registered Someone who does not qualify under the other categories. A registered person can only lease ‘Registered property’ as a main place of residence in their own name. An employer needs permission to employ a person with Registered status.
A register of all units of residential accommodation is available showing the housing category of each unit, either ‘Qualified’ or ‘Registered’ and any conditions or concessions which are applicable.
What kind of property can you buy?
In regards to someone approved as a High Value Resident, Jersey’s Population Office will generally require that you buy or lease a high value property. Normally this is a property with a saleable value of more than £1.75 million (if a freehold house). In the case of an apartment the qualifying saleable value is more than £900,000.
Licensed individuals can lease or purchase any property apart from first time buyer restricted or social rented housing whilst they retain their Licensed status.
Property Ownership Types
A freehold interest includes everything above and below a property within its boundaries for an unlimited period. The principle ‘he who owns the land owns everything reaching up to the very heavens and down to the depths of the earth’ generally applies. It is the common form of ownership for houses, but does not apply to apartments.
Flying freehold is frequently used for the sale of apartments. The Flying Freehold Law 1991 provides for the division of a property into private units and common units. Ownership of a private unit known as a ‘co-owner’ gives freehold title to an apartment and ancillary accommodation such as garden, parking space and store. Each co-owner is allocated a percentage interest in the common units such as entrance halls and stairways and is required to contribute towards their maintenance and upkeep.
The Contract of Purchase (a conveyance) sets out the description of the property, the rights and obligations of the co-owner. Each co-owner is a member of an Association of co-owners, which is responsible for the management and administration of the collective property. Associations levy a service charge (usually monthly or quarterly) to cover shared expenses such as insurance, cleaning, lighting and repairs.
A sale of a flying freehold unit is governed by the Housing Law and any purchaser must possess the relevant residential status.
A leasehold interest is a temporary right to occupy land or property. A person who owns the freehold interest in a property may grant a lease on it to another person. This creates a relationship of Landlord and Tenant (or Lessor and Lessee).
Unlike the UK, long leasehold is generally not used as a form of tenure for purchasing apartments. In Jersey there is no right of automatic renewal or statutory security of tenure when the lease expires.
A freehold property may be owned by a Limited Liability Company. Shares in the company can be sold entitling the owners of those shares to exclusive use of certain parts of the company’s property (for example apartments within a building). The Memorandum and Articles of Association set out the rights and obligations of the individual shareholders of the company.
The advantage of a share transfer purchase is that the completion does not have to go before the Royal Court and therefore can be undertaken on any day of the week. The definition of “owner” for the purpose of a share transfer apartment is the holding company rather than the owner of the particular shares. It is not unusual to find that a high value property is owned by a Limited Liability Company for privacy.
Share transfer property purchases do not require the purchaser to have a registration card, but the intended occupier of the property will need to have a Registration card in order to be able to prove their entitlement to occupy the property.
In Jersey, under inheritance law, property is either ‘movable’ or ‘immovable’. These classifications are broadly similar to the English classifications of 'personal' and 'real' estate. A flying freehold, freehold and leasehold property interest of more than nine years can be left as immovable or real property. A person inheriting such a unit is permitted to live in it even if he/she does not have the required residential status (however on first transaction of that property, the property status will revert to ‘Qualified’ and can only be purchased and occupied by an individual with the appropriate Entitled or Licensed residential status.
The owner of shares in a company (share transfer property) has movable or personal property. A person inheriting such an interest cannot live in it without the required residential status.
Co-ownership - Joint ownership or ownership in common?
There are two forms of co-ownership recognised in Jersey law, joint ownership and ownership in common. The most important difference between types of co-ownership is what happens on the death of one of the owners.
Most married couples buy property as joint owners. On the death of a joint owner, their interest in the property passes to the surviving joint owner. On the death of one owner in common, their interest in the property passes on to their heirs.
Another key difference is in respect of the two ownerships’ ability to sell and/or alter a property interest. In the case of joint ownership consent is required from all the parties, while the contrary is the case in respect of an owner in common. Unless there is express wording in the contract stating that there is to be ‘joint ownership’, then the presumption in Jersey law is that co-ownership is by ‘ownership in common’
Equity agreements and wills
A non-purchasing party may wish to have their economic interest in the property recognised by an ‘equity agreement’, recording the contributions to the property purchase and setting out what is to happen if the property is sold. This is particularly the case where a partner is unable to purchase under the Housing Law regulations.
Prospective purchasers should discuss the available options for any equity agreements and wills with their legal advisers to ensure that the arrangements put into place accommodate their wishes, taking into account any legal limitations.
Image: Courtesy of Fine & Country Jersey
Buying a property in Jersey
Buying a property in Jersey is slightly different to the UK. For example, all property transactions (except share transfer) are a public procedure and go before the Royal Court.
Jersey is probably one of the only global jurisdictions where you go to court to buy a property. The Royal Court passes property transactions on a Friday from 2.30pm. Purchasers (or their appointed agents) must attend, wear a tie, and stand up and raise their right hand when their property purchase is read out, and swear an oath that you are aware of the contents of the deed of sale and will not act against it upon pain of perjury
Under Jersey law, a freehold property sale and contract lease (longer than nine years) is only binding once contract is passed before the Royal Court.
The process normally takes four to six weeks from acceptance of an offer to completion of a sale. Exchange of contracts and completion takes place on the same day, unlike the UK.
Appointing a lawyer
A Jersey qualified lawyer acting for the purchaser must present the contract to the Royal Court. There is no state guarantee of title in Jersey. It is the responsibility of the purchaser’s lawyer to correctly research the seller’s title to a property.
There are a variety of legal firms on the Island, and prices for conveyancing can vary but fees are generally more expensive than the UK. In Jersey, it is the legal firm acting for the buyer that effectively guarantees title.
A lender will require a valuation survey of the property. In addition, the purchaser may require a report on the property to ensure there are no hidden defects, and the price offered is in accordance with market value.
There are several types of survey that can be provided by a chartered surveyor. It should be noted that from commission to completion, it can take two to three weeks to prepare a report, particularly a building survey.
A valuation survey is normally by a lending institution to provide ‘comfort’ regarding a property loan to purchase the property. It is based on a superficial inspection only of the property and presented on a simple template proforma. The surveyor will also take into account any apparent defects, the nature of the property, comparable evidence and material matters such as proposed planning developments in the near vicinity.
A homebuyer’s survey and valuation report is sometimes termed an ‘intermediate’ report but is limited in respect of the value and nature of the property involved. It is suitable for smaller properties only.
A building survey is an in-depth inspection of the property and associated buildings within the curtilage including boundary walls, paths and driveways.
A full report will be supplied, and will normally contain photographs to amplify the contents of the report. If requested, an approximate estimate of the remedial work required can be obtained from a reputable building contractor specialising in maintenance and refurbishment.
Image: Courtesy of Axis Mason
Buying a freehold property
Making an offer
An offer can be verbal or in writing. The offer should be made ‘Subject to Contract’ and might also be conditional upon survey and title. You will also instruct lawyers to represent you in the purchase.
To provide security before contract completion or to take into account delayed completion, a preliminary contract can sometimes be agreed. Preliminary agreements are not commonly used in Jersey and will add to legal fees. The agreement will normally provide a penalty for failure to perform the contract. It is usual to provide a 10% deposit upon the signing of such an agreement.
Prior to completion of a preliminary agreement the purchaser’s lawyer will have made checks on title and recommended any conditions to be included in the agreement if there are issues or clarifications required.
Deed of Sale
The vendor’s lawyer will prepare the draft Deed of Sale, this is sent to the purchaser’s lawyer to check.
Your lawyer will make searches with the various bodies that may be able to provide information in respect of the property. Searches will include the parish authorities, utility companies and the Planning and Building Services Department.
Confirmation of title
Your lawyer will reserach title by checking the Public Registry. The titles to the immediately neighbouring properties will also be looked at to ensure that the boundaries they claim towards the property to be purchased, and the rights set out in those properties’ deeds again correspond with the information set out in the draft Deed of Sale. This will include any rights of way or covenants held in relation to the property.
Mortgages and lending agreements
Any mortgage or lending agreement will attract stamp duty at a rate of 0.5% of the loan sum plus a registration fee of £80. Your lawyer should be advised of the arrangements in respect of any lending agreements. Your lawyer will also need to be provided with cleared funds for the property purchase before completion. Your lawyers will be under a legal obligation to pay over the monies on completion; otherwise they are liable to be sued themselves.
On completion of searches, your lawyer will attend the site to ensure the draft deed of sale aligns with the situation on the ground. If any defects are found, your lawyer will report back to you, explain the difficulties and discuss whether or not the problem requires any remedial action to be taken. Resolution may require simple clarification but can involve approaching a neighbour to agree documentation to cover the problem encountered on site. An alternative approach is to obtain defective title insurance cover.
The estate agent usually prepares an inventory of contents detailing any items of furniture, carpeting etc. which are to remain in the property. This should be checked and countersigned by both parties.
Going to court
In Jersey, freehold property transactions go before the Royal Court on a Friday afternoon. Conveyances are completed by passing a contract before the Royal Court whereby the parties swear an oath that they are aware of the contents of the deed and will not act against it on pain of perjury. Either you or your lawyer (authorised by a power of attorney) must be in attendance. If the purchaser or their authorised representative is not present, the property completion will not go ahead.
Posession of the property
The estate agent usually negotiates the time for taking possession of the property after the Friday completion at court. It’s usual for the purchaser to be given the keys on passing of contract, but possession can take place immediately, or within three or four days.
Longer delays do occasionally occur but should be covered in the terms of the conveyance on your behalf by your lawyer.
Normally a purchase of a property will be on the basis it is acquired as found. On completion, the vendor is usually released from all and any responsibility for the property or its condition unless the parties have agreed otherwise.
If all goes smoothly and there are no complications, most freehold property purchases take around four to six weeks. It’s a slightly quicker process than in the UK where property purchases take around six to eight weeks.
Images left to right courtesy of; Tim Skudder TS Associates, Horizon Development Company, Axis Mason, and Axis Mason
Buying a share transfer property
A share transfer purchase does not have to go before the Royal Court and therefore can be undertaken on any day of the week. Most of the purchasing process is similar to that for a freehold property, with a few key differences outlined below.
Sale agreement for share transfer
Because a share transfer transaction not only involves a property but also a company, additional checks are made to ensure that the company and its records are in order.
The vendor’s lawyer will prepare a draft agreement providing for the sale of the shares, including certain ‘warranties’ to be provided by the vendor, relating to the company and its property.
Memorandum and Articles of Association
The Memorandum and Articles of Association are the constitutional documents of a company and set out the rights and obligations of the individual shareholders in the company.
The Memorandum and Articles of Association should be in an acceptable format and correctly describe the apartment and any other areas (such as gardens, parking areas, garage, etc) that are included within the sale. Some Articles of Association have uses which may be restricted such as owning pets and renting the property. This should be checked at an early stage to avoid any potential conflicts.
Every company must keep records regarding shareholders, directors, secretary and decisions made by its shareholders and directors.
A check will be made that the company has a good marketable title to the property, free of charges and ensure that the details in the company’s contract regarding boundaries and servitudes are correctly recorded.
The main buildings and common parts will be insured by the company. Therefore a shareholder only needs to insure the contents of the apartment including all internal wall, floor and ceiling finishes, kitchen and bathroom fittings and appliances, doors and windows and the decorative finishes. Insurance should be in place at the point of completion.
Survey and valuation
A shareholder in the company will have a joint responsibility for the structure and exterior of the property as a whole. Accordingly a survey will consider the condition of the whole building as well as the apartment being purchased.
Your lawyer will inspect the property to ensure that the company’s contract of purchase corresponds with the circumstances on site. If any defects are found these will be reported and options for any remedial action determined.
Completion of share vending agreement
The share vending agreement is normally completed only when you are ready to take possession. If there is to be delayed completion, a preliminary agreement with deposit might be appropriate. Your lawyer must hold the purchase price balance in cleared funds on the day before a purchase completes.
Share transfer purchase agreements will ordinarily contain some warranties given by the vendor, primarily in connection with the affairs of the company rather than in respect of the property. These will usually be limited to matters which would not be identifiable from a review of publicly available documentation.
Stamp duty is payable by the purchaser on all acquisitions or transfer of all freehold and flying freehold property. It is calculated on the market value of the property on a sliding scale up to a maximum rate as from 1st January 2015 of 7%, and must be paid in full prior to the passing of contract.
Stamp duty of 0.5% plus a document fee of £80 is payable on any borrowing secured over Jersey real estate.
Land Transactions Tax (LTT)
Land Transactions Tax is payable on share transfer property transactions and is broadly equivalent to the amount of stamp duty payable by someone buying a freehold property. Your lawyer will be able to advise you of stamp duty payable on the property and mortgage, if applicable.
Jersey is divided into twelve parishes. Each parish levy rates which go towards parish expenses, repair and maintenance of parish by-roads and refuse collection etc. You must pay rates if you are an owner and/or occupier of ‘land’ (‘land’ includes any house, building, structure or land). If you own or occupy ‘land’ on the 1st January, then you’re liable for the rates for the whole year. An apportionment of rates is normally agreed between vendor and purchaser at the date of completion of sale.
Planning and building regulations
Planning law in Jersey
Development of a property that includes change of use, demolition, new development, and alterations may require planning consent. If you’re planning to develop or alter your property, you should seek professional advice and ascertain the statutory requirements that may be in place. Planning permission deals with the use of land, the appearance of buildings, landscaping considerations, highway access and the impact that the development will have on the general environment.
Building regulations approval is different from planning permission. Building control is concerned with the property structure and has a different application and approval process. Building regulations deal mainly with health and safety matters in the interest of the people who will use the building and focus on how a building is constructed.
Building control consists of a two stage process:
- The plan stage, when applicants submit detailed plans for approval
- The inspection stage begins when work starts on site. A series of site visits are made by a building control surveyor as work progresses on site, to ensure the work is carried out in accordance with the various bye-law requirements.
It’s best to seek advice from the Historic Environment Team of the States of Jersey or a suitably qualified expert about whether permission is required for works to a listed building or structure.
Building costs in Jersey
Building costs in Jersey are higher than in the UK in part due to the extra freight costs . The rates of tradesmen and builders in Jersey are also generally higher than the UK. A temporary business license is required to employ UK contractors in Jersey. This will only normally be granted if the service required is of a specialist nature and not normally available in the Island. For more information about temporary business licenses, please click here.
Image: Courtesy of Page Architects
Jersey Property ownership traditions and regulations
Branchage An owner’s responsibility for the cutting of trees, bushes and vegetation that overhang a public highway.
Visite Royale A visit of the Royal Court and parish officials to inspect roads with particular attention to any encroachment by trees.
Property terms in JÈrriais
Jersey's traditional language is Jèrriais, which is closely related to French. For many properties Jerriais words are still used as property terms, so it is worthwhile to brush up or have a guide at hand. A example of likely property terms in Jèrriais are below:
- Banque = Bank
- Becquet = Small piece (of land)
- Carre = Corner (a location, e.g. of field)
- Champ = Field (unenclosed)
- Chasse = Driveway, carriageway, avenue
- Chemin particulier = Private roadway
- Clos = field (enclosed)
- Clôture = Enclosure
- Côtil = Steeply sloping field
- Lisière = Strip of land
- Mielle = Sand dune
- Pré = Meadow
- Puits = Well
- Ruelle = Narrow road or lane
- Terre = Land (normally cultivable)
- Terrain = Land (open and underexploited)
- Vingtaine = A parochial division
General advice for property buyers
For more information on buying and developing property in Jersey, get in contact with these information providers and professional associations.
Jersey is made up of 12 parishes. For the contact details for your parish, and details of parish rates, recycling facilities, refuse collection etc, click here.
Services and utilities
The Jersey Water Company mains water network currently covers approximately 85% of the Island. Some properties in rural areas or away from main routes are supplied by water from a well or borehole with appropriate treatment plant. Boreholes are registered to each owner, and ownership is transferred to the new owner on purchase of the property. Jersey Water Company can survey any such properties and provide an estimate of costs to connect to the mains water network.
Jersey Electricity Company is the sole provider of electricity in Jersey.
Jersey Gas Company is the sole provider of gas, distributed via underground mains and by bottle in the rural parishes.
Jersey landlines begin with 01534 and are part of the UK national network. The choice of telecom providers in Jersey is:
Fibre and 4G
100% of broadband customers are connected to high-speed 1 GB fibre (JT Global) and Jersey has an Island-wide 4G network (all Jersey providers).
Jersey Post operates a network of 21 post offices across the Island. In addition, Jersey Post provides postal delivery services to all Jersey residential households and business, five days a week. Additionally, they have established trading locations outside of the Channel Islands including Newark and Chicago in the US, Hong Kong as well as in the UK which enables them to provide on and off-Island logistics management for any size, or type of item, in order to support clients’ own business development and growth.
For other useful contacts
The Jersey Online Directory
For more information on Jersey’s general development policies and regimes, download a copy of the 2011 Island Plan and related documentation from this link (select Revised 2011 Island Plan for the latest version).
The information provided on this page is also available to download in our Finding a Home guide.
For more information get in touch with a member of our team on +44(0)1534 440604 or email firstname.lastname@example.org