The Central Housing and Planning Authority, (CH&PA) is adamant that it had carefully reviewed the issue of repossession of the core houses, prior to the issuance of letters to defaulting beneficiaries.
Last year, Junior Minister of Communities with responsibility for Housing, Keith Scott, announced that in some cases lands distributed under the Inter-American Development Bank/Government of Guyana (IDB/GOG) housing project will be reclaimed due to breach of the purchasing agreement.
Scott said that those under review were subletting and even attempting to sell the properties all of which was a violation of the agreement with CH&PA.
However, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall had argued that CH&PA acted unconstitutionally in its move to repossess the properties. Nandlall has since filed legal action against the housing authority on behalf of at least two beneficiaries.
But the CH&PA, in a detailed statement to the press, explained that it had carefully reviewed the issue of repossession of the houses and issued letters to defaulting beneficiaries.
The Authority outlined that the Core House pilot project was implemented under the GOG/IDB Second Low Income Settlements Programme (2009-2015). It targeted persons of low affordability, who were unable to construct houses on their own.
“Occupation of the Core Homes was a key aspect of the Agreement between the Government and the IDB and was elaborated in the Operating Regulations which governed the Programme; the beneficiaries signed the Agreement…”
According to the CH&PA, “Possession of the property shall be given to the beneficiary (ies) who shall occupy the property within one month of it being delivered.”
“Upon failure of the beneficiary (ies) to occupy the said property within one month of its delivery, the beneficiary (ies) shall be bound to give up possession of the land and building to the Authority and to re-convey Title to the Central Housing and Planning Authority.”
The Ministry noted that beneficiaries, who passed through a rigorous selection process, were allowed to participate in the project in good faith, but defaulters failed to adhere to their side of the Agreement.
The issue has prompted some beneficiaries to occupy their homes while others elected to be refunded monies paid for the land and their equity contribution of $100,000 toward the house.
“The house was virtually free of cost to the beneficiaries,” the CH&PA said.
“The Central Authority wishes to inform the public that no one was coerced, tricked, intimidated or deceived by officers to return their documents for a refund.” The Authority went on to state that each case was thoroughly investigated, over a period of four years, initially using the gentle approach of encouraging persons to occupy their homes and not breach their agreements.
This was done prior to issuing warning letters and the final letters, requesting them to surrender their documents and be refunded monies paid.
“It is reasonable to interpret the persistence of the defaulters not to occupy their houses as an indication that their need for housing is not urgent.”
The Central Authority cannot allow this to occur when deserving families in urgent need of housing are on its waiting list.
The CH&PA also noted that Certificates of Title issued in respect of Government land are subject to registered interests where persons are to erect buildings within a specific time. Failing to do so they are bound to re-convey the said lands to the Central Authority/Government.
“Beneficiaries are also not at liberty to sell, lease, transfer or part with possession of the said property transferred, within ten (10) years of transfer without the consent of the Minister among other conditions,” the statement added.
Beneficiaries who would have processed Certificates of Title on the award of the core houses are further subject to registered interests that incorporate a combination of conditions of the Core House Agreement and the Agreement for the sale of the Land.
The Central Authority has noted in some of the defaulting cases the beneficiaries are renting and some have even sold the core house. The Central Authority is therefore well within the law to seek to reclaim these properties.
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