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Debate on a Bill seeking to amend the Registration (Strata Titles) Act, passed by the House of Representatives in October, began Friday (November 27) in the Senate.
The legislation, which is being piloted by Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Dorothy Lightbourne, seeks to address several concerns surrounding the ownership of condominiums or apartment buildings, including payment of fees.
Opening the debate, Senator Lightbourne explained that the Bill seeks to amend the Registration Strata Titles Act to, among other things, establish a commission of strata corporations, 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.
The Registration (Strata Titles) Act was enacted in 1969 to facilitate the subdivision of land into strata, or what is commonly known as apartments.
“With the steady demand for increased residential and professional accommodation, particularly in the urban areas, Government and private sector alike have taken steps to meet this demand, by developing multi -family dwellings under this Act, to maximise the use of the limited land space available in Jamaica,” she said.
She stated that the growth in strata proprietorship has brought to the fore certain problems, which are peculiar to strata properties and which must be addressed if this form of ownership is to remain viable.
The decision was taken to amend the legislation, to put in place an appropriate legal framework to improve the ability of strata corporations to carry out the functions that are necessary to effectively control, manage and administer the strata property and to correct certain problems relating to their operation, she added.
Opposition Senator, Noel Sloley, noted that some strata units, as a result of under- funding, are undervalued and are under performing assets, resulting in a tremendous loss of wealth to the owners .
He remarked that many of the units were bought as investments within the tourism industry. But, with some owners not making their contributions to maintenance, the apartments have deteriorated, are sub-standard and not suitable for rental.
“In fact, there are some 8,000 rooms within the tourism industry, under the category of villas and apartments, with the vast majority being apartments. This indicates the level of investment that we have within the strata community,” he explained.
Senator Sloley also pointed out that when passed into law, the amended Registration (Strata Titles) Act will once more allow for diversification of ownership within the tourism industry, and diversification of the visitor to more of the non-inclusive type accommodations.
“This legislation will start a virtual cycle of preserving and increasing wealth to all the existing and new condominium apartment owners. It’s going to restore some hope, increase values and real wealth creation,” Senator Sloley said.
Debate on the Bill will continue at the next sitting of the Senate.