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

 

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

Understanding Property Taxes

When conducting land transactions in Jamaica, such as the sale of property; transfer of property; first registration of land; and the subdivision of land, a certificate of payment of taxes is required by the Stamp Office or the Parish Council. Many persons are not cognizant of the penalties or the procedure to pay their property taxes. This week, we will examine some key points on this topic.

What you should know about property taxes

All residential and commercial properties are subject to tax in Jamaica. Property Tax is a tax levied on property owners to provide revenue for the provision of public & community amenities provided by the local government. It is charged on the unimproved value of the land.

The Property Tax Act gives the government the authority to charge property tax on all property in Jamaica. All property tax collected is required to be credited to the Parochial Revenue Fund, which is to be used by the government for the general maintenance of the parochial road network, including but not limited to, repairing damaged parochial roads, street lightening and garbage collection.

How to pay your property taxes

Property taxes are due annually at the beginning of each fiscal year. Payments can be made at tax offices island wide or online at www.jamaicatax.gov.jm/property-tax-query. Property owners have the right to pay in instalments (quarterly, half-yearly or in full). Quarterly by end of April, July, October or January. Half-yearly deadlines are by end of July and by end of January. The yearly deadline is by end April.

Property owners in Jamaica or overseas can now conveniently go online and check the status of their outstanding property taxes, once they have their valuation number and can access the E-payment portal. The E-payment portal accepts payment by credit cards.

Penalties

Numerous persons have been brought before the Tax Court in the Parish Court for failure to pay outstanding property taxes.  Under the Tax Collection Act, the tax collector may issue summonses for arrears and penalties owed, if persons fail to attend Court, a Warrant of Disobedience may result, where persons may be imprisoned for up to three (3) months or an Ex Parte order can be made.

Additionally, a caveat can be placed on the property which blocks the owner from transacting any business with the property (e.g. you will not be able to sell your property or even use same as collateral for bank loans etc.). The property can also be seized and sold to recover property taxes owed.

Failure to pay property tax on the date it becomes due will result in a penalty of 10% per annum, which will be added to the outstanding property tax.

Properties Exempt from Paying Taxes

The Property Tax Act provides exemptions for certain types of property including; buildings used for religious purposes, schools and hospitals etc.

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

A Father’s Rights to Child Custody and Visitation

June 17, 2018 is Father’s Day and I thought it quite timely to discuss the matter of child custody. In Jamaica, there is a perception that mothers are the main caregivers and in cases where parents separate/ divorce, mothers usually believe they should get sole custody of the child and in some acrimonious instances, refuse the father from visiting their child/ children.

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What to Do If You Are injured on the Job

Workplaces are required to provide a safe environment for its workers. This includes a duty to provide competent staff and adequate equipment. The concept of a safe system of work is not restricted to providing proper functioning equipment; it extends to providing adequate training and supervision of employees where that is necessary for a safe working environment. The employer is required to give notices and warnings to its employees regarding the ways in which to work safely, highlighting dangers and conduct that they should refrain from in order to maintain safety.

However, accidents do happen on the job and an employee who is injured would require medical attention. In which case, some form of workplace compensation (usually monetary) would be given – usually to help offset medical expenses and all other expenses that occurs when an individual is unable to work.

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Death and Taxes Go Hand-in-Hand: The Payment of Death Duties

The saying usually goes “when yuh dead yuh dun” and in many cases this is true because a dead man knows nothing, and a dead person cannot do anything, but when it comes to taxes, the saying can be written “death and taxes go hand in hand”.

This saying is relevant in Jamaica because when a deceased person owns properties and other assets, the transfer of said assets to loved ones will require the payment of death duties to the Government. Some persons may say that this law is unfair and uncalled for, but in reality, it is a way for the Government to regulate how properties are being transferred.

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“What’s Yours Is Mine, What’s Mine Is Mine” – The issue of Matrimonial Property

During a divorce or separation, the question of matrimonial property division often arises as couples tend to argue about who spent more money when building the house or paying the mortgage and would therefore be entitled to be a bigger stake of the house. Matrimonial Property is defined in the Property (Rights of Spouses) Act (PROSA) as “any real or personal property, any estate or interest in real or personal property… or any other right or interest whether in possession or not to which the spouses or either of them is entitled.” From this definition, it is clear that property is not defined to mean only the family home. The only thing the law has done in relation to the family home, and not in relation to other property, is the presumption that that there be the automatic application of equal division or the “50-50 rule” unless good grounds exist to warrant a deviation from it (section 6 of the Act).

Continue reading “What’s Yours Is Mine, What’s Mine Is Mine” – The issue of Matrimonial Property

6 Key Points When Applying For Your Land Title

You have been living on the land you purchased or received from your family member for many years and have been faithfully paying your property taxes but you do not have a registered title. This is the position that many land owners in rural Jamaica find themselves and are wondering what steps can be taken to obtain a title.

Before registering a land title in Jamaica, you first would need to contact an Attorney-at-Law who is verse in land dealings and you will need the assistance of a Commissioned Land Surveyor. Below are 6 key points to note when applying for a Registered Title:

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Farm Land Lease and Its Importance

As an Attorney-at-Law practicing in the parish of Manchester for over two years, I have come across several civil matters involving farm lands. Whether the issue is with the landlord or the tenant, the first thing I ask the client is, “Do you have a lease agreement?”

Continue reading Farm Land Lease and Its Importance