Buying property in Jersey
We understand the complexities of relocating to a new jurisdiction and provide clients with advice throughout the whole process; from their initial enquiry, all the way through to the completion of their purchase. Whether looking to acquire a traditional country estate, a granite farmhouse, a modern high-end house or a plot with development potential, we have the expertise to help navigate clients through what can be a complex legal process, ensuring a smooth and stress free relocation for them, their family and even their business.
We have established a reputation for excellent client service over decades advising both local and international clients and have developed an appreciation of the needs of purchasers who are in the process of relocating to Jersey. As well as our established private client and trusts practice, that are well placed to assist with any wealth planning requirements that may arise during relocation, we have access to an extensive local network of tax advisors, architects, surveyors and banks.
Entitlement to purchase or rent
In the main, all purchasers looking to relocate to Jersey must have what is referred to as ‘Entitled’ status in order to buy or rent property on the island. The criteria against which applications can be made for ‘Entitled’ status include social and/or economic grounds.
For applications on economic grounds, the following factors are considered:
- likely contribution to tax revenues;
- business/social background of the applicant;
- number of dependants and the extent to which these persons may in time acquire housing rights if consent is granted;
- other non-economic benefits which the island may receive if consent is granted;
- total net-worth; and
- possibility of the applicant bringing a business to the island which will generate tax revenues and provide employment.
In terms of contribution to tax revenues, the current requirement for applicants for Entitled status on economic grounds is for individuals to be able to demonstrate the ability to generate an annual minimum tax contribution of £145,000 and an annual sustainable, worldwide income comfortably in excess of £725,000 per annum.
The categories of ownership & the conveyancing process in Jersey
Jersey’s system of conveyancing is unique and differs to the process in the UK and many other jurisdictions. For example, the buyer and seller are required to attend the Royal Court to consent to the sale or purchase of property.
One of the key differences is that there is no system of registered land backed by state guarantee. What this means in practice is that it is the responsibility of your property lawyer in Jersey to ensure that the property you are to acquire has ‘good and marketable title’, is free from any title defect, benefits from all of the necessary legal rights and services and is not subject to any adverse interests.
If the property is share-transfer property then your lawyer will also be required to review the company books to ensure all is in order and that the company is being managed properly.
As the conveyancing system in Jersey is still court based there is no contract to sign, except for transactions involving a share transfer property, where contracts are not passed before the Court. Buyers are able to appear before the Court to buy their property, however, you can also sign a Power of Attorney so a member of Appleby can appear on your behalf, if preferred.
Unlike in England & Wales, there is no equivalent concept of exchange and completion; it is the passing of the sale contract through the Court which is the process by which title is transferred from the vendor to the purchaser. Whilst it is possible to seek to bind the parties to pass a sale contract in advance of physically attending the Court by way of a preliminary or pre-sale agreement, there are certain limitations to these agreements and they are not that common in practice.
Although the process can at times seem complex, we can help provide clarity and walk clients through each step of the process, making it as clear, seamless and stress free as possible.
what are the property types in Jersey?
There are, broadly speaking, three main types of ownership when acquiring residential property in Jersey:
- ‘Freehold’ is the term used to describe ownership in perpetuity of land and everything above and below, however, this is also subject to certain limitations.
- ‘Flying Freehold’ is a type of ownership where an owner acquires a distinct unit, most usually an apartment, within a wider development together with a percentage interest in the common parts of the development.
- ‘Share Transfer’ is a type of ownership where the owner acquires a share or shares in a company, which shares confer on the owner a right to occupy an apartment forming part of the company’s property.
For transfers of freehold and flying freehold property, the buyer and seller are required to attend the Royal Court, with the Court usually sitting on a Friday afternoon.
It usually takes between four to six weeks to complete a conveyance in Jersey. As part of the process it will be necessary for us to trace back ownership of the property for a minimum of forty years (longer in some instances) and investigate title to the property to ensure it has all the necessary rights and is not subject to any title defect. We will also be required to attend on site to check our title research accords with the position of the physical boundaries.
Stamp duty applies to all purchases of freehold and flying freehold property. The amount of stamp duty payable varies depending upon the purchase price on a banded system. For property acquired by way of share transfer, Land Transaction Tax is payable at broadly the same level as stamp duty.
In addition to stamp duty, there may also be stamp duty against any lending that is secured on a property, which at present is charged at a rate of 0.5% of the loan sum.
Other costs to consider are surveyor and legal fees and we are happy to discuss agreeing an appropriate basis of charge, including the potential to agree a fixed fee amount to provide certainty for legal expenses.
Jersey’s status & property taxes
Jersey is not part of the European Union and is a self-governing Crown Dependency of the United Kingdom. The legal system in Jersey does not impose wealth or property taxes other than Parish Rates. These are charged annually, going towards Parish expenses, maintenance of by-roads and also refuse collection. This is another important advantage to purchasing property in Jersey.