HAJ urges informal settlers to become regularised

Friday, November 24, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) is calling on residents in informal settlements to take the necessary steps to become regularised.

More than 90 communities islandwide are currently on the radar of the HAJ to undergo streamlining.

Managing Director of the HAJ, Gary Howell, said the agency has issued more than 1,600 titles over the last two years and is seeking to assist others to become legitimate property owners.

“In recent times, we have been able to carry out regularisation in a number of communities in St James, such as Red Ground, Copperwood, and Norwood, among others. We have also done some work with residents in parts of St Ann, St Mary and Negril,” said Howell.

He pointed out that informal settlers run the risk of losing their property due to the fact they have no legal right to it. Many of the parcels of land value from $300,000 to $1 million.

“In a number of instances, the residents have erected multimillion-dollar structures without having gone through the process of legitimately acquiring the land,” explained Howell.

“The possibility exists that such individuals could end up having their homes demolished if the land is later required for developmental purposes,” he added.

Howell said in addition to security of tenure, there are other benefits to be gained from becoming legitimate owners of land, such as the ability to access loans.

“I have seen a number of cases where persons have been able to get access to funding for educational purposes and for start-up business ventures by using their titles as collateral,” he pointed out.

The process for an individual to become regularised has been made very simple by the HAJ, where assessments are done to ascertain the value of the parcel of land on which the resident has settled, and a payment arrangement is subsequently finalised, based on the specific circumstances of the resident.

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