Evictions of tenants from rental property is carried out by the Viscount, as the Executive Officer of the Courts in Jersey.
The following guidance is an overview of the process only. We recommend that landlords contact the Department to discuss in detail before commencing an eviction.
Getting a Court Order
If you wish to evict the tenant, you must first get an order from the Court. Eviction orders are normally dealt with in the Petty Debts Court under the Loi (1946) concernant l'expulsion des locataires refractaires or the Residential Tenancy (Jersey) Law 2011, depending on which law governs the tenancy.
Guidance for getting an eviction order is on the Jersey Law website
As well as ordering the eviction by the Viscount, the Court order may:
- authorise the Viscount to enter the property to conduct the eviction and remove any movable property
- permit the Viscount to use reasonable force, if necessary, to enter the premises (the Viscount will always try to enforce the eviction without the use of force so far as possible)
- specify whether the landlord, the tenant or both will be liable for the Viscount's expenses of the eviction (for example, locksmiths, removal companies)
- authorise the Viscount to distrain (that is, seize and sell) assets belonging to the tenant and carry out an arrest of the tenant's wages for rental arrears and costs
Instructing the Viscount
Once you have the Court order, you must instruct the Viscount, by letter of instruction signed by you, to carry out the eviction. Your letter should include the original Court order.
It will assist us if your letter of instruction also includes all relevant details about the tenant, the property and the background to the eviction.
The Viscount will not accept instructions from a person who is not resident in Jersey. If you are outside Jersey, you can engage an agent (such as a lawyer or debt recovery agent or someone resident in Jersey) to act on your behalf, to give instructions and act as an ongoing contact for the Viscount.
The eviction process
The Viscount has a wide discretion on when and how an order for eviction is carried out. While we will always aim to complete an eviction as soon as we can, in some cases, this may take a few weeks. The conduct of the eviction will always be dependent on the circumstances of the case.
Factors that the Viscount will take into account include whether there are children living in the property, whether the tenant has new accommodation to move into and any factors specific to the tenant, such as their health. The level of co-operation we receive from the tenant may also have an impact on the length of the process.
Careful consideration and priority will always be given to the safety of the Viscount's officers. If necessary, the Police or other agencies will be asked attend or assist at an eviction.
There are several issues which can arise with an eviction and we advise to call the Viscounts Department to discuss before sending the Act of Court to the Viscount for execution.
During the eviction process, we will change the locks at the property and the new keys will be delivered to the landlord once the tenant has vacated or been removed from the property and their belongings have been removed, if necessary.
The tenant's possessions
The treatment of the tenant's possessions can be complicated and, if this is an issue, we will discuss the procedure with you. The following is a summary of what may happen where we have to deal with the tenant's belongings.
If the tenant moves out and leaves their possessions in the property, if:
- the tenant has not made any agreement with the landlord about disposal of their possessions
- the court has not made an order relating to their possessions
- the tenant has not disclaimed (renounced) their possessions the Viscount may remove and store their possessions
We will only remove and store the tenant's possessions if the Landlord has agreed to pay the costs of removal and storage and if the belongings have resale value. If we remove the tenant's possessions, an inventory will be prepared where necessary. The keys to the property will be delivered to the Landlord once the removal is complete.
Sale of possesions
If the Viscount does remove the tenant's possessions for sale, disposal of the tenant's belongings will be carried out in consultation with the Landlord. This will involve a sale process which will take at least 15 days to complete. The proceeds of sale, after deduction of the Viscount's fees and costs of the sale, will be paid to the Landlord against any outstanding arrears of rent. The landlord may purchase the possessions, at an agreed value, which will also be set off against any outstanding rent.
If the Viscount does not remove the tenant's possessions, they will remain in the property for a period of 15 days. During this time, we will check the premises regularly to ensure no-one has entered them without authorisation. At the end of this period, the Viscount will deliver the keys of the property to the Landlord who may then remove and dispose of the tenant's property.
If the tenant "disclaims" their possessions, by signing a written disclaimer, the Viscount will deliver the keys of the property to the Landlord on completion of the eviction and the Landlord may dispose of the possessions.
It is likely that the Court will also order payment of any arrears of rent at the same time it makes the eviction order.
The landlord should also instruct the Viscount to seek to collect the arrears of rent from the tenant. The Viscount will attempt to collect the arrears but this may take some considerable time as progress will depend entirely on the financial situation of the tenant, their income and assets. The Viscount will only pay to the landlord the monies that we are reasonably able to collect from the tenant. The Viscount has discretion to negotiate a payment plan with the tenant that reflects their circumstances.
The Viscount's fees
The Viscount is entitled to charge a fee of £500 for each half day or part half day that the Viscount's officers spend in conducting the eviction. This fee is established in the Stamp Duties and Fees (Jersey) Law 1998.
The Viscount has a discretion on the final fee charged, which is determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account, among other things, the amount of work required in each eviction.
The Viscount is also entitled to recover any costs and expenses incurred in an eviction, such as the costs of locksmiths and removal companies.
The Viscount's fee and any expenses are payable by the Landlord in the first instance. The Court will normally order the tenant to pay these costs. In this case, we will seek to recover them from the tenant and reimburse the amount received to the Landlord.