Homeowner slaps Ministry of Health regional body with $3-m lawsuit for unpaid rentMonday, October 25, 2021
BY VERNON DAVIDSON
A Jamaican homeowner has filed a $3-million lawsuit against the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) for unpaid rent on a furnished house she had leased the State to house Cuban doctors and nurses brought to Jamaica to help with the Government's management of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The claim filed by Michelle Knott-Neckles, a senior deputy sheriff/master deputy sheriff in Clayton County, Georgia, United States, states that SERHA has failed to pay rent for the period March 2021 to October 2021 and as such has breached the terms of the lease agreement signed in November 2020 by SERHA's then regional Director Maureen Golding.
Under the two-year lease agreement SERHA was to pay Knott-Neckles $363,000 each month, after making a security deposit of $560,000 for use of the St Andrew house. The statutory body paid the required sums between December 3, 2020 and January 7, 2021.
The lease also required SERHA to pay the water and electricity bills.
However, the payments stopped after the January payment and Knott-Neckles resorted to sending demand letters to Errol Greene, SERHA's then acting regional director, on June 16, July 6, and August 1 this year.
Yesterday, Knott-Neckles told the Jamaica Observer that, despite travelling to Jamaica on at least four occasions since March this year to meet with Greene and other officials of the health ministry, the matter has not been settled.
“They keep giving me the runaround, even though they acknowledge that they owe me,” Knott-Neckles said.
“During the time that the rent was not being paid I had to be paying the utility bills just to ensure that the doctors and nurses were comfortable,” she said, disclosing that she spent just under $3 million on fixtures and security for the property.
On October 11, 2021, Knott-Neckles' attorney Christopher Henry wrote to SERHA giving the entity notice to quit the property.
In the particulars of her claim, which names the attorney general as second defendant, Knott-Neckles states that the sum of $3,267,000 is the outstanding rent due. She is also asking the court to award costs and “other relief as may be just”.