Aug 23, 2015 News
By Leonard Gildarie
In June 2013, I wrote an extensive piece on the process to apply for a house lot and those turn-key homes from Government.
Despite ending the articles on housing, a stint that I enjoyed, I continue to receive queries. Many of them. So again, we revisit that issue.
The first bit of advice is that the Ministry of Housing’s operational arm, the Central Housing and Planning Authority, has information on its website. I have found it to be extremely helpful –The address is https://www.chpa.gov.gy
We will repeat an edited version of that June 16th, 2013 article that appeared in the Kaieteur News.
Let us examine the process involved when applying for a house lot and in the case of the government’s ‘turn-key’ homes, what is needed when approaching the Housing Ministry. More and more, based on complaints, I am worried about the processes involved with this and with the applications at the banks and New Building Society (NBS) for a mortgage.
In the case of applying for the house lots, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) has made it clear that it is working in a systematic manner.
There is no way to fast track it. Don’t let anyone fool you into believing that they know someone. As a matter of fact, there have been cases in which hapless persons were scammed right in the vicinity of the Ministry’s compound. These scammers would select frustrated persons and approach them, indicating that they have contacts. They would even pick up the phone and call somebody in the Ministry. Only in this case, it is a partner in crime who is not even working there.
A date is set, monies are paid and sometime after, the new house lot owner is handed his/her transport outside of the Ministry. The problem is that the transport is fake. So don’t go that route.
At the lending institutions, the problem is not so much the application as it is the management of the monies that are given. Again, I have spoken repeatedly about the need for proper handling of the advances. New Building Society and the banks disburse monies in tranches…meaning that you would get a particular sum to start the foundation. They would inspect while you are building to ensure you are proceeding according to plan and that you have materials on hand. You are asked to submit receipts of the materials purchased, transportation and other costs, and even what you paid the contractors, before the next advance is handed over.
But having a few millions in the hands can be a distraction. A flat-screen TV, a stereo set, the temptations are many. One bank even spoke of a case of someone submitting a bill for KFC to justify their expenses. A big no-no.
A few millions are blown away quickly when you start shopping for the windows, roofing materials, paying the contractor and even tiling. You have to be tight-fisted with the money. It is no joke. I keep repeating this, yet we see homes under construction stalled for overspending. In most cases, it is largely the fault of the homeowner.
When applying for a house lot, the government’s policy is crystal clear. You cannot own another property. Except for the special remigrant programme, an applicant must be a resident of Guyana for at least six months prior to applying and at least 21 years of age.
While preference has been given to families with children and the vulnerable, there are no barriers stopping an unmarried person from applying. A common-law relationship is also accepted.
To start the process, an application form has to be bought from the CH&PA’s Brickdam offices. It costs around $200. The application form is straightforward, with additional documents like birth certificates, ID cards or passports, marriage certificates if applicable, pay slips and rent receipts, among some of the documents needed.
Applications for a house lot can also be done at the Ministry’s website: www.chpa.gov.gy.
The ministry and its operational arm, CH&PA, have now, because of necessity, merged the application and interviewing process. No longer do you have to wait awhile for an interview after applying. It happens right away. This had been a major grouse with many. The Ministry has done a good job of playing catch up.
Applicants, once they satisfy the requirements, would most likely be told lands are available and where. Based on your salary, you can either be allocated a low income house lot or a bigger one.
The size of a low income lot can vary around 40-45 feet x 80 feet while a middle income around 50 x 100 feet.
You can ask for an upgrade for bigger lots, but availability of land will determine whether this is granted.
Now, I am not talking timelines, as again the availability of house lots will determine this.
You will receive notification or an acknowledgement letter that the application is in and later another correspondence of an offer and be invited to participate in a lottery system. This lottery entails you, as the applicant, pulling a house lot number from a bag in a system designed to ensure you have been fairly allocated that plot of land. Your luck will determine whether you get a corner lot or one in the middle of the street.
Applicants will later receive an Allocation Letter which gives details of the land. The applicant will then have to pay half of what the land costs. The balance must be paid within six months. The faster you pay will determine how quickly you reach the next stage, where the processing of the Titles/Transports giving you ownership of the land will begin. This processing fee is around $8,000.
After the initial half-down payment, the allottee will have to enter an agreement of sale with the CH&PA which will outline certain conditions of owning the land. One of the main conditions is that the allottee is not to sell until after 10 years. There have been many reports of Powers of Attorney being used by other persons to gain “ownership” of the lands and properties built. The CH&PA has been waging a war on this and a number of cases are being handled by its legal arm, as it is illegal. The Ministry has even offered, I am told, to have the new “owners” of the house lot, pay the market price in an effort to ensure regularization.
In the case of the government’s ‘turn-key’ homes – which range between $4.6M to $14M – the applications are similar. Upon an application being handed in, an assessment will be done to determine the eligibility of the applicant to acquire these. Unless they have the cash, they are referred to the banks, or NBS, to obtain mortgage financing. The successful allottee will inspect the home and enter into an agreement of sale and sign papers for the title/transport. These will later be forwarded to the bank. The applicant will also have to submit a letter of satisfaction to the bank. Upon the completion of its own process, the bank or NBS will forward a check to CH&PA for the ‘turn-key’ home.
NOTE: There is a new Government in place and I am told there are some delays in the process. I will attempt to speak to Minister Keith Scott in the coming days and will report what I am told. Enjoy the weekend.
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