New Bill To Address Landowner Issues

Saturday 18th, September 2010 / 11:42 Published by

Nassau, The Bahamas — The Bahamas Government is going to address the issues faced by landowners who are subjected to loopholes in the Quieting Titles Act by introducing the 2010 Land Adjudication Bill.

The current legislation has proven to entail a long and painstaking exercise that is exhaustive and expensive for the general public.

“The Government of The Bahamas has tabled a number of Bills in Parliament, which are designed to address the issues of land in The Bahamas,” said the Hon Byran Woodside, Minister of State for Lands and Local Government during an interview at his office, Wednesday, September 15, 2010.

“The Land Adjudication Bill, along with others to come, will transform the landscape of land matters and regulate the manner in which these issues are dealt with by professionals in the real estate, legal profession and the courts.”

The new Bill will update the pre-1925 colonial laws that regulate the ethical recognition of Bahamian land titles.  It will replace the current land administration legislation and give more cost effective options for estate planning.

“The Adjudication Bill 2010 seeks to address most, if not all of the problems encountered in the process of dealing with land matters,” said Mr Woodside.

“Its objects and reasons set out clearly that the Bill is to provide a legal framework to enable families who have been in possession for 30 years or more of a parcel of land of not more than one acre to claim ownership of such land, and if successful to be granted a certificate of title for the land.”

The Government is questioning the effectiveness of current laws such as the Acquisition of Land Chapter 252, Land Surveyors Chapter 251, Conveyancing and Law of Property Chapter 138, International Persons Landholding Chapter 140, Quieting Titles Chapter 142 and the Real Property Act Chapter 169.

“Many of you, especially my brothers and sisters in our Family of Islands, will understand the frustration of occupying land where you have built your dwelling homes, but are not able to have free hold ownership of such land,” said Mr Woodside.

“In many cases this has occurred with your occupation of Crown Land.  While this practice is not to be condoned, since only the Minister responsible for Lands can give approval for any occupation of Crown Land, the Government understands situations that may have existed for many years and is seeking to find ways and means to deal with the situation.”

The new Bill also addresses ancestral land issues where a landowner died without leaving a Last Will and Testament.  It will legally protect the homes of the descendants still living on the land and their right to be included in the succession or entitlement.

“There are cases where a Grantee may die while his/her Crown Grant is being processed or the occupation of a parcel of Crown Land may transcend many decades with a number of descendants occupying the land for many years,” said Mr Woodside.

“In the case where the land may have been granted to the original occupier who may now be deceased, claims by descendants may be heard before the Land Adjudicator and fair allocation of portions of the land made.”

The Government will correct the situation with an appointed Adjudication Officer, equipped with an extensive 10-year legal background, as well as the status of a Supreme Court Judge. The Governor General will appoint him or her upon the suggestion of the Prime Minister.

Gena Gibbs
Bahamas Information Services

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