JIS News

Debate on an Act to amend the Registration (Strata Titles) was suspended in the House of Representatives yesterday (Oct. 6) as members raised several concerns relating to the content of the Act.
The legislation, which was piloted by Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding in July, seeks to address several concerns surrounding the ownership of condominiums or apartment buildings, including payment of relevant fees.
Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Ronald Thwaites, while noting that an efficient strata titles law is absolutely essential for urban renewal, expressed concern about the penalty for the non payment of maintenance fees.
According to the Act, units can be sold if owners fail to pay overdue fees for more than 30 days.
“I suggest to the Government that they look at that 30 day period … (which) appears to me to be too short and my suggestion is that it be amended to at least 60 days. In the circumstances where people have lost jobs, where they have periodic income, arrears of 30 days is not unconscionable and does not indicate badmindness and an attitude of unconcern or neglect in terms of their obligation,” Mr. Thwaites said.
Member of Parliament for St. James West Central, Mr. Clive Mullings, in his contribution, said that many homeowners put paying maintenance at the “bottom of the totem pole and indeed, it has caused some rift between members of that strata corporation and homeowners.”
“Unfortunately, the idea of sharing responsibilities isn’t one that takes priority especially where a dollar sign is concerned and in fact, what we have found is that many times, you have persons complaining bitterly that they are unable to sell their property because they haven’t paid and they haven’t paid because some other homeowner hasn’t paid,” Mr. Mullings said.
He noted that while the legislation assists in getting a quick remedy to the problem “it also places a tremendous responsibility on the strata corporation to ensure that their accounting is proper and above board,” he added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Golding noted that the Bill benefitted from the contributions from members of both Houses as well as from the public.
He said that the amendments to be moved will be expanded to “incorporate as many of the issues that have been raised and where we feel the quality of the Bill will be enhanced, we will bring those back.”
According to the Prime Minister, the payment of maintenance fees by owners of strata units was of major concern. “This is the one that is complained about so often, the non payment of fees and therefore the absence of the resources that (are) required to properly maintain the properties,” he noted.
The Bill seeks to amend the Registration Strata Titles Act to, among other things, establish a commission of strata corporations and to specify the duties of that commission and to create an implied covenant between a proprietor and a corporation that the proprietor or his heirs, will pay any outstanding charges owed to the corporation prior to a transfer. There are some 2,345 registered strata properties in Jamaica.

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