A matter of land | HELP! My Portmore community lacks leadership (Pt 2)
In my last column, I started to respond to a question from a reader but space did not allow me to complete the response, so this week I will continue with the response with a repeat of the question.
Dear Mr Francis
I always read your articles in The Sunday Gleaner and I have a question I need answers for.
I am interested in knowing about the rights of residents in a gated community. I live in a scheme in Portmore, St Catherine, and I pay my maintenance fee diligently.
But whenever you write to the executive committee board, there is not even an acknowledgement. The current board has become dormant. Notices are posted on the exit/entrance gates and long after the activity is completed the notice remains.
Homeowners who do not live in the scheme have no access to these notices and I have not seen any accounts in the last two years.
I don't recall signing a contract to pay maintenance, but that's not an issue. It would be good to see how it is used and what the plans are.
We have a community centre, which could generate revenue, but is neglected flaking paint, rusting stairs, blown light bulbs.
We have not had an election in three years. The current members of the executive board decided to take another term and announced that elections should be held in June 2016, but we are still awaiting the forms to nominate candidates.
I know the president's name but I have never met him. The maintenance, security, and property management are outsourced. Unfortunately, some of the residents are nasty and so there is always loose garbage on the ground outside the dedicated area and from time to time flies are a nuisance.
I have never seen anyone checking to see if residents are conforming to the covenants open burning and garbage heaps are a common sight.
I would really like the community to come together as it once did. I find that persons who offer themselves for community service do not have the time but hold on to the post for dear life.
I know a member of the Executive Committee Board and he tells me that it is a registered company. Is that so? If yes, shouldn't the board have yearly accounts that residents can view?
What would you suggest?
Good day L.W.
Last time I responded to you from the point of view that the complex is under the Registration of Titles Act. The advice I gave would be helpful if it is a strata complex but not quite applicable if it is not.
Today, I will suggest some things that you can try if the complex doesn't fall under the Registration of Strata Titles Act.
First, I suggest that you check the title for your property and look at the restrictive covenants that are endorsed on the face of the title. This will instruct you as to the dos and donts of the community. You will then see if any of the activities of which you complain are stated in the restrictive covenants and are prohibited.
If they are, then you can report these activities to the municipal council to see if they can assist in having them cease and desist or you may have to take the offending parties to court.
To find out if the executive committee is a registered company you can get the correct name and go to the Registrar of Companies in New Kingston to find out if there is this company registered.
If no contract is in place, then persons are not bound to pay anything as they would not have any agreement to pay maintenance. This needs to be rectified.
This is a very tenuous situation to be in as you really do have much legal recourse except where restrictive covenants are being broken. As to the leadership issues it's just a matter of agitation, lobbying and continued pressure on the current leadership to get its act together.
I do suggest, however, that you, and some like-minded persons who are interested in the good of the complex, offer yourselves for leadership so that you can make the changes needed to improve your community.
I wish you all the best in this regard as you want to be comfortable in a place you call home.
Keep sending our questions and comments and let's continue to explore A Matter of Land. Please note that for the next four weeks we will have a guest contributor, Timothy Thwaites, commissioned land surveyor. Until next time, traverse well.
- Craig Francis is a commissioned land surveyor and managing director of Precision Surveying Services Ltd. He can be contacted for questions or queries at firstname.lastname@example.org or Precision Surveying Services.