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Senator wants Gov't to tackle titling issues for 'dead lef' properties

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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OPPOSITION Senator Sophia Frazer Binns is calling on the Government to tackle the land titling issues affecting “dead lef” properties.

“It is easier for a squatter to obtain a title for land than a legitimate heir,” Senator Frazer Binns said as she made her contribution to the annual State of the Nation Debate in the Senate last week Friday.

She recommended the establishment of a special committee to examine the issue of generational lands.

“Another challenge in our (land) legislation is seen in estate matters or what we call 'dead lef', or family matters. Under the relevant Act, all estates must be administered before property can change hands. In Jamaica we have family land where members have lived for decades, orally passing their property from one generation to another,” Senator Frazer Binns pointed out.

“Families often relocate, leaving one or two members, who have occupied the said property for years without opposition, often without any contact from any other family member, but are unable to obtain title because of the legislative requirements,” she noted.

“Our laws must be de-webbed of the historical cobweb which has become so tightly woven into a bureaucratic standstill. This is the way to unravel the mystery of capital in land,” she said.

“I therefore recommend the establishment of a special committee to examine the issue of generational lands. This committee would be comprised of the administrator general, LAMP (Land Administration and Management Programme), Ministry of Land, Attorney General's Chambers, Ministry of Justice, the Bar Association, and other relevant stakeholders,” she said.

“It is time that a full and focused deliberation be undertaken to find inexpensive and timely ways to resolve the issue of generational or 'dead lef' property which, in most instances, is dead capital,” she argued.

Senator Frazer Binns also noted that, in all of this, an important component must be the involvement and change in the mindset and culture of the people.

“The Government can do all it can, modernise all the laws, make all the monies available for surveying or assisting in titling, but unless and until each and every person starts to see the power that lies in land titling and regularisation, we will not reap the full benefit of titling,” she said.

She added that part of the change must be an acceptance of basic principles, such as estate planning.

“How many of us in this house can say we have a will?” she asked her Senate colleagues.

“There seems to be a thinking that if you make a will you will immediately die, not reap the full benefit of titling. But, estate planning helps to reduce the time and money spent on resolving 'dead lef' property, and gives s peace of mind to prolong our lives. These suggested changes will require us to see land as a means to an end and not an end in itself. That titling should be only the beginning and not the end,” she stated.

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