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Guernsey has a wide selection of housing types including purpose‑built apartments, bungalows, contemporary houses, period townhouses and traditional cottages and farmhouses.

Because of population pressures on the Island’s limited resources of land and housing, legislation was first introduced in 1948 with the object of controlling the occupation of the smaller, cheaper priced dwellings for locally qualified residents. However, Guernsey welcomes new residents who must occupy a special category of property known as “Open Market” and these are inscribed on a Housing Control Register.

From the 22,000 or so dwellings in Guernsey less than 10% are on the Register and thus available for purchase and occupation by new residents. The prices of Open Market properties are much higher than the equivalent local market dwelling simply because of the forces of supply and demand.

To occupy “local market” property one has to have “residential qualifications” or a “licence” from the Housing Department. Broadly speaking, to attain residential qualifications one has to have been born in Guernsey and/or lived in the Island for many years. However depending upon the precise circumstances of each case, one may attain residential qualifications by:

  • Being the child of a qualified resident (or of a person ordinarily resident) and resident for 10 years in a 20 year period.
  • Resident under licence for either 15 or 20 consecutive years depending upon the type of licence. 
  • Resident for a total of 20 years in a 30 year period AND originally resident as a child.
  • A married spouse can also become residentially qualified by being resident for a period of 10 consecutive years and living with a qualified spouse during that time.

Licences are granted by the Housing Department and may be “employment related” or “non essential” (sometimes called compassionate) licences. Before the Department grant an “essential” licence, they will subject the applicant to a thorough test of “essentiality” and will need to be satisfied that there is no suitable local person available for the employment.

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