Mon | Jun 17, 2019

Land title spree in St James - HAJ calls for residents to unlock equity in property

Published:Thursday | May 9, 2019 | 12:15 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Residents of St James are being urged by the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) to take advantage of its mortgage discounts so that it can hand over to landowners the approximately 8,000 property titles it has in its possession.

In line with the Government’s mandate to help landowners unlock equity in property, the HAJ wants at least 80 per cent of residents in the Retirement Phase Two community to become title holders. The push is also geared at giving landowners collateral for obtaining loans and normalising much of Jamaica’s communities whose property owners have limited or no documentary proof of ownership.

“In this area alone, we have over 2,000 lots, and maybe 20 per cent of the residents have obtained their titles under this drive so far. But we’re striving for a minimum of 80 per cent, so we have a lot of work to do,” said Norman Brown, chairman of the HAJ.

Brown made the declaration following a ceremony to present land titles to residents of Pitfour, Retirement, and Meadowvale in St James yesterday. The handover, which was held at the Dawn Christadelphian Bible Centre in Retirement, saw 45 residents receiving their titles.

“There are another 800 persons in this community whose titles are available,” Brown told The Gleaner following the ceremony.

“St James has the highest concentration of informal communities in the country, hence our focus here. We are trying to regularise these communities and create a sort of ownership society. We want to ensure that most, if not all, of the residents have security of tenure by obtaining their titles from the Government,” added Brown.

The HAJ has been holding a series of meetings and education campaigns in St James to teach residents about the benefits of holding titles for properties on which their homes are located. These benefits include the ability to access building grants valued at up to J$2.5 million if the title holder earns J$15,000 or less a week.

During the last fiscal year, which ended on March 31, the HAJ said it was working to deliver up to 500 new land titles, for which the cost of production was projected at approximately J$55.4 million.

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