Tue | Jun 15, 2021

PNP pitches rent-to-own housing in election manifesto

Published:Saturday | August 22, 2020 | 12:20 AM

The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) said it plans to construct 130,000 housing solutions over five years to undertake a rent-to-own programme if it forms the Government after the September 3 general election.

It said that under the programme, individuals pay rent for a consistent period, a portion of which goes towards the down payment, later transitioning to ownership through a mortgage.

Jamaicans seeking to own their first house may be able to claim up to one year’s income tax for the purpose of a home purchase, the PNP said in its election manifesto released on Thursday.

Neither the general manager in the construction division of the National Housing Trust (NHT), nor the relevant officer at the Housing Agency of Jamaica, could be reached for comment on the feasibility of constructing 130,000 houses, or 26,000 on average annually, over a five-year period.

However, that could be considered ambitious considering Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ announcement during his 2018-19 Budget Debate that the NHT was executing plans to build up to 22,000 housing starts for the four-year period to 2020, the most, he contended, to have ever been built by any administration.

The PNP said that under the programme, 54,000 houses will go to the general public, 25,000 to youth under 35 years old, and 5,000 each to teachers, hospitality workers, nurses, public transport workers, household helpers and gardeners, security guards, public-sector workers and the police. One thousand homes will be allocated to the disabled community, 3,000 to vendors, and 2,000 to soldiers.

Two-year moratorium

The party said it would work with mortgage lenders to offer a two-year ‘hard-times’ payment moratorium to give Jamaicans hit by financial fallout a buffer to recover and save their homes.

The PNP pledged to work with the University of Technology School of Architecture to establish a bank of architectural designs preapproved by parish councils and available to the public with only land appropriateness checks needed to be done.

Realtor Deborah Cumming, founder, chairperson and managing director of Heave-Ho Properties, said that if the rent-to-own concept meant that a portion of the rent would pay down the purchase price, that, basically, was a vendor’s mortgage.

“In Jamaica, it does happen from time to time, but it is usually done on an individual basis,” she said, adding that “I’ve never heard of the Government doing that.”

Cumming suggested that under such a scheme, the NHT or another institution might be the mortgagee.

In a rent-to-own agreement, one party rents a house for a certain period, with the option to buy it before the lease expires. Rent-to-own agreements consist of two parts: a standard lease agreement and an option to buy.