Articles

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”.

Continue reading Ban on Plastic is Now in Effect

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.

Continue reading Using Protection Orders to limit Domestic Violence

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

Can a Hotel be liable for injuries sustained while you are a Guest?

Beach, food and entertainment are all guests think about when on vacation but at times, there are unfortunate cases of injuries sustained while on vacation. Typical resort injuries may involve swimming or diving accidents, slip-and-fall injuries, elevator mishaps, fires, and shuttle accidents. 

Hotels and resorts have a responsibility to keep their properties safe and free of hazards. When guests stay at a resort or hotel, it is expected that the grounds, provided transportation, and amenities are safe and free from danger. Hotels and resorts have a legal duty to warn guests of known dangerous conditions on the premises and to protect guests from known dangers and hazards.

Under the Occupiers Liability Act, there is a common duty of care imposed by section 3(2) which states: “the duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there.”

Additionally, Section 3(3) explained that the occupier must also be prepared for children to be less careful than adults. As such, it will not be a defence for an occupier to say that a child refused to sit still thereby causing his own demise, if the occupier did not take any step to remove objects or conditions which would be inherently hazardous to children.

Furthermore, the resort is not absolved of liability in respect of injury to a guest merely because the guest was warned of the danger. Section 3(5) of the Act requires that the warning must in all circumstances be “enough to enable the visitor to be reasonably safe”. A warning may be verbal or written. In a decided case, the Court found that 12 clear “Caution-Wet Floor” signs which were placed around a wet area in an airport, the signs being reasonably positioned (not too low or too high), were sufficient warning to make the premises “reasonably safe”. The Court, therefore, found that the sole cause of the injury to the Claimant who slipped on the premises was her failure to do what was reasonable to safeguard herself.

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

Back to School: Reviewing Child Maintenance

With the commencement of another New School Year, issues surrounding which parent is responsible for the school fee, transportation and lunch money usually raise concerns for single parents seeking support.

The Maintenance Act (2005) explicitly states that every parent has an OBLIGATION to maintain the parent’s unmarried child who- (a) is a minor; or (b) is in need of such maintenance, by reason of physical or mental infirmity or disability. It is important to note that the grandparents may also have this duty in the event of the failure of the child’s parents to do so owing to death, physical or mental sickness or disability.

It should be highlighted that ‘parent’ not only refers to a biological parent, it includes someone who has accepted any child as ‘a child of the marriage’, whether that child is a biological child of one of the parties to the marriage or not. This means that a stepparent have an obligation to maintain the stepchild whom he/she has accepted as a child of the family, while the couple is married and this obligation continues even if the marriage has ended.

Once a parent neglects his or her responsibility to the child, one should not be afraid to seek maintenance for that child. Below are six steps in applying for maintenance:

  1. An application for child maintenance should be made at the Manchester Parish Court located at 2 Parks Crescent in Mandeville or any other Parish Court across the island.
  2. It is recommended that you retain the services of an Attorney-at-Law to file the application on your behalf but you can also do this on your own. If you are applying on your own, speak to the Clerk of Courts who will process the documents.
  3. The court will issue a summons (a court document instructing a person against whom the claim is brought) informing them of the date they should attend court to hear the matter. Also included in the summons will be how much the applicant is requesting as payment for child maintenance.
  4. The summons is served on the individual. If the person cannot be located, then the matter will not be able to go before a Judge. However, if the summons is served and the person refuses to attend court on the date specified in the summons, then a warrant will be issued for his/her arrest.
  5. Once the summons has been served, both parents should appear in court on the appointed date and present their case before the Judge.
  6. The Judge, in considering the best interests of the child will proceed to make an order regarding maintenance and the amount which should be paid, how it should be paid, and when it should be paid- weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

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

What is a Deed Poll?

There are several reasons one may desire to have a name change. These include restoring a family surname that has been changed in the past, to change the spelling of your name or simply because you dislike your current name. To have this name change legally recorded, a Deed Poll will be required.

A Deed Poll is a legal document that allows an individual to assume a new name and provides documentary evidence of the name change. You can contact an Attorney-at-Law to draft this document on your behalf.

The Deed Poll is required to get all your documents and records (e.g. bank accounts, passport, driver’s licence) changed to reflect your new name. Persons over the age of 18 years can conduct a deed poll on their own behalf. For minors, a deed poll can be done if both parents give the consent to do so.

5 steps to obtaining a deed poll:

  1. You will need a certified copy of your birth certificate and/or marriage certificate and a valid photo identification.
  2. Visit your Lawyer to have the Deed Poll drafted and this is to be signed before a  Justice of the Peace (JP).
  3. The Deed Poll is required to be stamped at the Stamp Duty and Transfer Tax Department.
  4. The document is then submitted to the Registrar General Department for recording which takes 3-30 business days (depending on the service that is paid for).
  5. You will then receive a certified document recording the name change, with your birth certificate attached.

It is important to keep your Deed Poll safe because if you need to prove your identity in the future, for example, you want to get married or apply for a passport, you will need to produce your Deed Poll together with your birth certificate.

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