Articles

Accessing your NHT benefits to purchase or build your dream home

This week we are looking at the National Housing Trust (NHT) and why it’s the most auspicious time for contributors to utilize the benefits from this scheme. As of May 2019, the NHT increased its loan ceiling from $5.5 million to $6.5 million per contributor and reduced interest rates for all mortgagors by 1%.

Continue reading Accessing your NHT benefits to purchase or build your dream home

Do Not Violate the Public Peace: Get Your Permit

Whether you are planning a ‘round robin’, beach party or a nine-night, a permit is required to host the event. Section 5 of the Noise Abatement Act sates that “where a person intends to operate any specified equipment to provide music for dancing or any other form of entertainment in a public place in circumstances where such music is reasonably capable of disturbing any person occupying or residing in any private premises, such person shall make a written application…” This application for permission to host any event should be submitted at least 10 clear days prior to the event being held.

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New Tax Amendments: Now is the time to buy/ sell Real Estate

As an Attorney practicing Real Estate Law, I was pleasantly surprised by the Revenue Measures for the 2019/20 fiscal year announced by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke on March 7,2019.

My article this week will look explicitly at the imminent changes regarding the reduction in fees for stamp duty and transfer taxes, that are slated to take effect as of April 1, 2019. To reiterate, the following are the proposed adjustments:

Continue reading New Tax Amendments: Now is the time to buy/ sell Real Estate

Main Costs Associated with Owning a Strata Property

Many persons are unaware of the recurrent fees associated with owning a Strata property. Some persons might also be surprised to learn that they have to pay monthly maintenance fees to the Strata, among other expenses. This week will we will look at three of the main costs associated with strata properties. They are as follows:

1. Property Taxes

According to the Registration of Strata Titles Act, owners of strata units and the corporation are jointly and severally liable for all property tax payable in respect of that parcel. It is therefore important that property owners in strata corporations ensure that other owners pay their respective amounts due.
The taxes are calculated on the unimproved value of the property on which the strata corporation is established.
You can pay or check the amount of property taxes payable by entering valuation number and strata lot no. Logon to the website https://www.jamaicatax.gov.jm/property-tax-query

2. Property Insurance
Section 5 (1) of the Registration (Strata Titles) Act determines that the duty of the corporation, inter alia, is “To insure and keep insured the building to the replacement value thereof against fire, earthquake, hurricane and such other risks as may be prescribed, unless the proprietors by unanimous resolution otherwise determine”.
It is the duty of the corporation to maintain adequate insurance coverage for the building(s) and the proprietors are responsible to pay for the insurance in accordance with his/her unit entitlement.
A single proprietor cannot determine that no insurance coverage is to be sought but rather all proprietors (100%) have to agree that no insurance will be obtained.

3. Maintenance Fees
Maintenance fees are contributions generally paid monthly or quarterly into the strata plan’s bank account. These fees are used to fund the ongoing expenses of the Strata for things like cleaning, gardening, electricity and building maintenance,
The amount of maintenance contribution is determined by the budgeted expenses of the Strata.

It is truly important that property owners understand the costs associated with a Strata and pay their relevant fees as the Strata has the right to exercise a power of sale in respect of a strata lot in accordance with Section 5(2) (e) of the Act.

About Author:

Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)
Attorney-at-Law
Manchester, Jamaica

Tel: (876)964-4046
Whatsapp: (876)827-8050
Email: law@balcostics.com

 

How to legally grow ganja in Jamaica: Understanding the Cannabis Licensing Requirements

Any person/ entity wishing to operate in the legal cannabis industry in Jamaica is required to go through the application process as set out in the Dangerous Drugs (Cannabis Licensing) (Interim) Regulations.

The Cannabis Licensing Authority (“CLA”) was established in 2015 by the Dangerous Drug (Amendment) Act. The CLA primarily issue licences for cultivation, processing, retail sale, transportation and research of legal ganja and hemp products.

There are five categories of licences with eleven sub-categories. These categories are: Cultivator’s Licence, Processing Licence, Transport Licence, Retail Licence and Research and Development Licence. An applicant can apply for more than one type of Licence. You can submit multiple applications at once if you are interested in operating in multiple aspects of the industry. For example, you may want to have a licence to cultivate and then another licence to process or transport the cultivated product.

There are fees associated with each category type, as well as a non-refundable application processing fee and a security bond payable per licence applied for. All fees are quoted in United States Dollars The licence fees ranges from US$2,000- $10,000.

The licencing requirement also states that individuals wanting a Cultivator’s Licence must be living in Jamaica for 3 or more years and companies who are applying must be registered with the Companies Office of Jamaica and must also be substantially owned and controlled by a Jamaican resident.

It should also be noted that applicants are required to submit police reports and individuals with criminal records will not be allowed to apply and likewise, companies with directors with local or foreign criminal records will not be allowed to apply.

The process can be onerous as the requirements are often licence-specific and categorized. It is therefore advisable that applicants consult an Attorney-at-Law.

About Author:

Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)
Attorney-at-Law
Manchester, Jamaica

Tel: (876)964-4046
Whatsapp: (876)827-8050
Email: law@balcostics.com

Ban on Plastic is Now in Effect

The new year started with a significant legislation taking effect, yes, I’m referring to the “plastic ban”  which applies to plastic bags (dimensions 24”x24” and thickness of 1.2 mils or less), disposable plastic straws and styrofoam products.

The Natural Resources Conservation Authority (Plastic Packaging Materials Prohibition) Order,2018 and The Trade (Plastic Packaging Materials Prohibition) Order,2018 brought this law into effect. Paragraph 3 states “With Effect from the 1st day of January, 2019, and subject to paragraph 4, no person shall import or distribute any single use plastic in commercial quantities”.

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It’s the season of giving: What you should know about Charitable Organizations

If you are thinking of establishing a charity, or have already started one and considering registration, this week we are looking on the process and requirements under the Charities Act (2013).

The Act defines a charitable organisation as:

Continue reading It’s the season of giving: What you should know about Charitable Organizations

Using Protection Orders to limit Domestic Violence

The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. With recent reports of heinous crimes among partners, it’s timely for us to examine possible legal measures to mitigate and prevent domestic violence. As such, we will review what is a “Protection Order”, and how it can be utilized in circumstances of domestic violence.

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Understanding Real Estate Valuation

I’m often asked, “how much should I sell my property for?”. It is advisable that all sellers and purchasers of properties obtain a current valuation (report) of the property from a certified valuator/appraiser in order to determine the current market price at which the property should be sold.

A valuation report or a real estate appraisal is a written report, independently and impartially prepared by a certified appraiser justifying his/her opinion as to the market value of the property.

If the purchaser is relying on a mortgage, the financial institution granting the mortgage loan will require a valuation in order to ensure that the value of the property exceeds the value of the mortgage loan. This valuation report should not be more than one (1) year old.

Although the content of real estate valuation reports varies depending on the type of property being appraised, reports generally contain the following information:

  1. The purpose of the appraisal being sought and the appraiser’s terms of reference
  2. Certification of report
  3. The market value of the property
  4. a description appropriate for the type of the property being appraised including, but not limited to: address, map reference, copy of a survey or map and property photographs
  5. the appropriate land use regulations, zoning and other restrictions that may affect the market value of the property

If you are considering to sell your property, it is important to obtain a valuation report from a certified Appraiser.

About Author:

Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)
Attorney-at-Law
Manchester, Jamaica

Tel: (876)964-4046
Whatsapp: (876)827-8050
Email: law@balcostics.com