the brief

A buying guide for ?J cats?

As an essential employee, buying a house is no simple matter as you must form a company specifically to buy the property.

The downsides (let?s get them out of the way first):
The company can be jointly owned by the essential employee and their spouse but the spouse cannot live there on their own. If the ?J category? employee dies, the spouse has to move out and sell up. Both will need to leave should the essential employee lose the ?J Category? status. Remember, by jointly owning the company, the spouse is protected financially but doesn?t gain residential rights.

Check your status:
Your employer must check with the Housing Minister that you qualify for ?J category? status. After confirmation, instruct your lawyer to begin the buying process.
Next, reserve a company name with the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) and inform the estate agent and mortgage provider that it is to be a ?J Category? purchase, advising them of the company name.
The Housing Minister will need an undertaking that there will be no change in the ownership of the company shares without the Minister?s consent (unless it is to sell to another J Category) and that the property will be sold out of the company when necessary or transferred into the name of the essential employee once full housing qualification is achieved.

Don?t forget the mortgage:
There are two ways this is normally arranged for ?J cats?. The most popular method is for the lender to loan directly to the essential employee and spouse, whilst the company gives a guarantee which is registered in the Royal Court. The alternative is for the mortgage to be provided to the company with the buyers giving guarantees themselves.

The costs:
Because the transaction is more complicated, the costs are higher than those for a normal property transaction. Shop around mortgage lenders and law firms as some, like Crill Canavan, offer discounted fees as well as advice on how to run the company.
As an essential employee you must seek good advice before buying a house. It is a complicated process and your lawyer will ensure that you are fully protected at all stages.

architecture

St Helier at a crossroads

The President of the Association of Jersey Architects (AJA), Mike Waddington, believes St Helier now stands at a major crossroads. Mr Waddington, Director of Naish Waddington and President of the AJA, agreed with the current view expressed in the Island Plan Green Paper that ?demand for homes? can be met by the potential to provide homes from within the existing built-up area and through the development
of some existing brownfield sites?

St Helier has to become a place where people both choose and are proud to live in, rather than their only alternative.  By making better use of what we?ve got, and with seed funding from the Esplanade Quarter Development, there?s a tremendous opportunity to regenerate St Helier as a place to live.  Great architecture, brave political leadership and the need to embrace 21st century urban living are the key to making this successful. There is  a need to be careful to protect St Helier?s rich historic character but at the same time said we, as a community, ought not be frightened to invite architectural innovation and sustainability.  Many of the ideas in the Island Plan Review are not new, for the Housing Forum in 1998 advocated ?greater density in St Helier? as a means to safeguard our countryside but it is reassuring that these early ideas have re-emerged and become reinforced in the document.

The Association of Jersey Architects have worked jointly with Planning and Environment on many key initiatives including Jersey Architecture Week, Jersey Design Guide and assisting in the processes of the Design Review Group.  Accordingly the AJA will be commenting on the Island Plan Review in due course in more detail.

My initial thoughts on the Island Plan Review are that St Helier now stands at a major crossroads and we have several joined-up ?once in a generation? opportunities including creating Jersey?s largest ever development and new central business district at Esplanade Quarter and the longer term and visionary prospect of relocating our commercial port operations to La Collette. This will then lead to regenerating all of Commercial Buildings, providing us with the possibility to seamlessly link the working port with the historic port, and create a wonderful mixture of shops, restaurants and places for people to live.  We can create new family homes at the Waterfront and a marvellous re-generated historic port with the sort of quayside architecture al fresco streetlife that will remind islanders of St Peter Port in Guernsey.  It also represents a very exciting opportunity for local architects to become involved in the regeneration of St Helier and delivering top quality, locally relevant architecture.