JIS News

The Legal Department of the Ministry of Housing, Transport, Water & Works, has over 8,000 titles stored in its vault for housing units in various schemes built by the Government since the 1970s.
Delivery of the titles is dependent on settlement of mortgage accounts. Many of the schemes are over 20 years old with accounts that have small balances.
However, the handing over of titles has not been possible due to non-payment and several social factors.
According to Garfield Maloney, Senior Marketing Officer in the Housing section of the Ministry, “a lot of the persons do not recognize the value of a title, so many are not coming forward to close their accounts. Some have come in only when they need the title to post bail for a relative or friend.”
To date, five ceremonies have been held to hand over titles. A total of 137 titles have been presented.
To expedite the process of handing over the titles, a special public education drive is planned. This is to make persons aware of the simple process involved in obtaining the titles.
Explaining the process involved, Mr. Maloney said that “firstly, a check is made to see who occupies the unit presently. This is called an occupancy survey. Following this, an offer of sale is made as in some cases, the occupants are not the original owners”.
“For the transaction to be completed, outstanding arrears have to be cleared by the prospective title owner. Following this, the tax authorities are advised to register them on the tax roll. We require submission of Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) with application for regularization,” he added.
The Government has been carrying the burden of liability for property taxes and utility payments for the housing units, and the handing over of titles makes it possible to transfer liability to the new owners.
“As soon as they are regularized, they get letters addressed to the utility companies advising that they are legitimate owners and requesting their regularization as customers of the utility companies,” Mr. Maloney said. He also outlined several advantages of being in possession of a title. “It gives a feeling of security and self worth. It can be used as collateral to create wealth, for example borrowing for business or education. It also facilitates bequeathing property to your children or other family members as inheritance upon death,” he said.

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