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Ease for illegal structures

Dianna Sealy tries to hold in the joy as she receives her conveyance from MP Donville Inniss and Acting GM of the NHC, Lanette Napoleon- Young.

National Housing Corporation tenants of 20 or more years who have illegal structures attached to their properties could soon be owners of their units as well.

In an attempt to clear the legal bind under the Town and Country Planning regulations that forbids tenants constructing such structures without prior approval, Minister of Housing Michael Lashley said he would be headed to Parliament in the new year to give these long-standing tenants who are up to date on their rents, the ability to own their properties.

And the Minister said he fully expects that there will be some opposition on the basis of the illegality of the structures that have been added, but once the legislation clears the Lower House they will proceed to ensure those tenants become property owners.

He made the announcement at Haynesville, where the National Housing Corporation along with MP for the area, Donville Inniss handed over five conveyances to homes of residents who have been there for more than 20 years.

Inniss had said at the time that the issue of persons with illegal structures not being able to obtain clear titles was “the biggest sticking point” and reason for the long delay in transferring some properties.

“Under the current Town Planning rules we couldn’t do the transfer with illegal structures attached to it, so the Government is in the final stages of bringing legislation to go to Parliament shortly that will address that as well. So all of those individuals who are awaiting clear title to their properties will get that within the first quarter of the next calendar year. So this financial year, all the NHC tenants should be obtaining their titles to their units.”

The new legislation, he said, should help with this challenge.

It was an assessment Lashley later also stated as he agreed that the new legislation ready to go to Parliament in the first week of January 2013 should eliminate some of the challenges they have been having.

“I have seen the draft bill. I’ve seen comments from the various agencies and the legal department of the NHC, they have also made some input, so I believe that Cabinet is generally satisfied in relation to the legislation.

“That legislation will also impact on all the other tenants who would have modified but were challenged as a result of the extension. Of course a lot of these units have illegal extensions and the only way around that to empower Barbadians would be to bring that bill to Parliament and we are on our way,” he stated.

Asked about any expected public concern given that the structures are illegally established, the minister said he was not overly concerned.

“You will have objections to any piece of legislation. When the Tenantry Freehold Act was passed, I read the debates and you had persons who challenged the Tenantry Freehold Act. You had people who even challenged the Constitution of Barbados…, so I am not perturbed by persons or groups who challenge or seek to question the legislation and I go by the principle that Parliament is sovereign, Parliament is supreme and it simply means that Parliament can do, make, unmake or do anything,” he stated.

Additionally, he said because there were terms to the legislation that would only allow those who already were within the 20-plus year bracket the ability to own those units with the illegal structures, this should rule out any new individuals who sought to use the bill as a loophole. (LB)

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