Owners of the 521 unregistered strata properties in Jamaica, 300 of which are located in Westport, Portmore, St. Catherine, have been notified that they are liable for prosecution, effective the end of January 2011, by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Commission of Strata Corporations (CSC), Mrs. Sandra Watson.
"If they do not register, we will be forced to use the penalty aspect of the law. We do not want to use it, but we will be forced to, as we want every single strata plan to be registered," the CEO said.
Mrs. Watson, who also heads the Real Estate Board (REB), was speaking at a JIS 'Think Tank', on (January 11).
"As it stands, the law allows for prosecution in cases where a strata plan is not registered with the Commission. The courts can fine the members of the plan or the executive of the strata corporation to a maximum of $250, 000," she warned.
She pointed out that amendment to the Registration Strata Titles Act was passed in December 2009 and came into effect January 1, 2010, adding that the Commission has been in operation since April 2010.
"We have written to strata properties and have had letters hand-delivered. We have written three different letters inviting members of strata corporations to register," Mrs. Watson said.
She said the responses have been positive so far, but noted that every strata plan has to be registered. "We cannot offer a service to them if they are not registered with us and we are not able to access data on their strata," the CEO said.
The Registration (Strata Titles) (Amendment) Act makes it mandatory for all strata corporations to register with the Commission within 90 days of becoming a body corporate. There is a one-time registration fee of $500 per unit in each strata complex.
Delinquent owners of strata lots, who refuse to pay maintenance contributions and are reluctant to settle insurance costs will face stringent action under the law. A strata corporation can exercise a Power of Sale for non-payment of contributions to the corporation by an owner, by applying to the Commission of Strata Corporation for a certificate of sale.
Mrs. Watson said that most strata corporations are reluctant to go this route as the members recognise the importance of a house to the owner and do not want to deprive people of this possession. However, while insisting that the CSC also does not want to take this final solution to delinquent owners, the laws need to be obeyed.
The CSC has the power to take action as an administrator of a strata corporation, where the body is not carrying out its duties. Mrs. Watson said that a Strata Appeals Tribunal has been established to hear appeals and adjudicate on matters affecting the administration and management of strata properties.