The National Assembly on Tuesday passed the Ministry of Housing and Water’s Condominium Bill, which seeks to ensure a structured and clear policy framework to guide the ownership and management of town houses and condominiums.
Described as a ‘modern piece of legislation’ the Condominium Bill Number 4 of 2022, makes provision for the horizontal and vertical subdivision of land and buildings into units for individual ownership, and the use and management of condominiums and matters connected to it.
Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal defended the government’s move to put in place the legislation, which he contended will bring major relief to owners of such homes.
He said the rapid expansion of Guyana’s economy has brought new demands for higher standards, and modern approaches to housing development that address the issue of climate change, along with the growing demands of less expensive units than what the former market offered.
“These are critical issues that had to be considered as we deliberated on a raft of legislative changes which must be made on the existing legislation to bring it in conformity with the legal framework that informs the ownership of town houses and condominiums.”
The current law governing condominiums disallows homeowners from approaching banks or other financial institutions with their Certificates of Sale, which should be treated as a Transport, to obtain loans and other services. They are also unable to obtain insurance to protect their property.
Facing a backlog in application, the former government constructed 46 duplexes for resale to citizens. Minister Croal said 42 flat and two elevated two-storey duplexes were constructed in Perseverance and two flat social duplexes at Prospect, East Bank Demerara.
He said the duplexes were constructed on land where registration is governed by the Land Registry, for which certificates of land titles were issued. He explained that the Miscellaneous Provision Act applies only to registration areas governed by the Deeds Registry, for which transports were issued and therefore a certificate of sale could not be issued under the current land registration system.
The minister said government has found that the demand for housing is concentrated in urban areas. In addition, expatriates participating in oil and gas and other activities are seeking more first world options for housing. Investors have also expressed interest in constructing condos as housing options and investment.
“While we welcome the interest, it was clear to us that we need to amend and or replace the current laws to provide a clear legislative landscape for the establishment and regulation of condominium schemes. By so doing, we will not only remedy what was done by the previous administration, but will also provide a clear path for new investors,” he told the House.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, said after some 33 years the Bill requires review. The Bill, he explained was first passed in 1989, during a period of stagnated economic growth and social decay.
Minister Nandlall said the only reason for the enactment of the law at that time was to bring commonality and regularity of old structures and give persons occupying those homes some sort of ownership.
Some of those structures still remain today. The AG said the law was put in place, but was never activated. He said Guyanese want the legislation.
Adding her voice to the debate, Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues, said the bill does more than just update the legislation to facilitate investment in condominiums. According to her, dozens of families are eagerly awaiting the passage of the bill to acquire title after more than four years of uncertainty.
“The APNU/AFC lack finesse in handling the duplexes. As usual they put the horse before the cart. They were out of their league – are with most things. They could not create any new housing schemes, they only allocated about 7000 lots within schemes the PPP/C built.”
She said even with escalating prices and social challenge, the government is still able to make homes affordable for Guyanese.
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, stated that the approach forms part of the administration’s visionary and multifaceted housing policy, noting that it demonstrates some of the fundamental tenets of good governance.
The minister stressed that the establishing of condominiums is not a “piece meal ad hoc approach”. The comprehensive bill, she noted, will allow more Guyanese, specifically young professionals, to own their own homes. [Extracted from DPI]