Couple, developer wrangle over land title
A Florida-based Jamaican couple who purchased property at the gated Negril Estate development in Westmoreland are frustrated at the developer Patrick Fletcher’s failure to hand over their land title after more than 12 years, and are demanding reimbursement of all monies, spent at today’s value, or the legal document.
“We sold our property in the US and decided to invest some of it,” Angela Miles, a 63-year-old retiree, told The Gleaner in a telephone interview. “We wanted to buy a piece of land to build a house that we could have a home … our space to travel to and from the US.”
Miles and her husband, Joseph, a 61-year-old pest controller, visited Jamaica and decided to purchase a lot on the high-end development at a cost of US$45,000, under a payment-plan arrangement, which was completed in 2008.
“We finished paying him off in 2008, then I went to him and told him that I wanted my title to build, but he told me that I did not need my title to build, just that I cannot build and stop,” she said.
The couple decided to put off construction plans, but faithfully paid fees for maintenance of the lot and security of US$1,000 annually, expecting that whatever issues to get their title would be resolved quickly.
“It is over 12 years we have been waiting for our title and every time we ask him, he is requesting our driver’s licence and signature. Sometimes two-three times for the year, we are sending the same documents -- certified, notary signature, identification , TRN -- to the developer, and every time we send the document it costs us more.”
The Mileses, who hail from the parish of Westmoreland, claim to have made several trips to Jamaica over the years, but to no avail, and complaints were met with more request for the same documents.
“Every time Mr Fletcher let us come back to the US without our title,” said Angela Miles, who is also a minister of religion. “So we are demanding our title or that we be reimbursed, but at today’s value, not at the US$45,000 twelve years ago. We will also need all monies paid for taxes and association fee over the years that we have been waiting.”
The Negril Estate development is currently the subject of an investigation by the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC) following a raft of complaints from a group of homeowners on the 170-lot property. When contacted, Marvalyn Pitter, CEO at the Bertel Moore-led WMC, said she is still waiting on the report.
But Patrick Fletcher, CEO of Reading Holdings Limited, refused to take responsibility for the long-standing issue, insisting that the delay was of the client’s doing. He also claimed that the Mileses took too long to complete their payment, but receipts seen by The Gleaner confirmed the 2008 payment completion date.
“I can show you their title, it is right there in my office. We are the ones waiting on them to send us documents,” He told The Gleaner on October 5. “When we submit to the Stamp Office, we must provide a copy of certain things or the transaction is sent back to us.”
“It is not as if I owe any money on them, no lien, no mortgage … nothing at all,” he quipped. “I have hundreds of titles. I don’t need nobody’s little title … why would I spoil my good reputation over US$50,000?”
According to Fletcher, who brags of spearheading major developments in other parts of the world, there are six other clients who are yet to get their titles, but the delay, in their case, is due to non-payment. “If they don’t pay off, they cannot get title … . They have outstanding balances.”
However, by Tuesday, October 6, the developer advised The Gleaner that he received the documents and they were sent to the Stamp Office.
However, Donovan Watson, a relative who manages the affairs of the Miles family locally, is not too optimistic.
“It has been going round and around for years. It is over 12 years, and the same thing from the developer over and over again,” Watson said. “He ask for the document; it is delivered; but when I do a follow-up, he is telling me that documents are still missing or that he did not get the documents.”
“Now that the documents are said to be in the hands of the Stamp Office, let us see.”