20-year wait done

Michael Lashley (left) and Kenny Best (File photo).

Barbadians renting housing units from Government and want to own them no longer have to wait 20 years to do.

Under new laws debated by Parliament today, they can do so once they “make up the deficiency of a 20 year tenancy, multiplied by the monthly rental rate applicable on the date of the (new) National Housing Corporation (Transfer of Terrace Units) Act”.

News of this came today from Minister of Housing and Lands Michael Lashley.

“There is a desire amongst tenants living in the estates that they too want to have a conveyance, they too want to benefit from this programme and so they are not willing to wait for the 20 years and we said ‘let us consider that approach, accommodate them’ and we decided to accommodate them too,” the minister said.

He also told the House of Assembly that qualified tenants had been so keen to own them they had clear more than $2 million in arrears to qualify.

Lashley said this was the effect of the 20 year programme offered through the National Housing Corporation since Government came to office in 2008.

To benefit from the initiative tenants had to ensure that all of their rents were fully paid.

Lashley told Parliament today that after the NHC sent out letters to people who were living in NHC units for at least 20 years they “were able to collect $2.4 million in arrears”.

He saw a need to improve relations between tenants and their landlord the NHC and suggested they establish of tenant associations as a way of achieving this.

“Let the tenants form tenants associations, let the National Housing Corporation have a representative on the association so that those grievances, so that those problems that they face can be then fed directly from the representative directly back to the National Housing Corporation and you have that relationship so that we will be able to deal, not only quickly, but frontally with these challenges,” he recommended.

Lashley’s comments came as he led off debate on the new legislation in the Lower House.

It will enable “the transfer by the [NHC] to its tenants, of ownership of certain terrace units that satisfy the legal requirements”.

To get their NHC units “free” tenants have to be in good financial standing with the NHC in respect of the property, have resided in it for 20 years or “discharged the obligations of a tenant for that period”, does not use the unit for any activity in contravention of the Town and Country Planning Act, and will pay the necessary legal fees and expenses connected to the transfer. (SC)

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