A MAT­TER OF LAND Do I have to pay for un­so­licited main­te­nance of my va­cant lot?

Jamaica Gleaner - - FEATURE - – C. C.B Craig Fran­cis is a com­mis­sioned land sur­veyor and man­ag­ing direc­tor of Pre­ci­sion Sur­vey­ing Ser­vices Ltd. He can be con­tacted for ques­tions or queries at craig_r_fran­cis@ya­hoo.com or Pre­ci­sion Sur­vey­ing Ser­vices

GOOD DAY, read­ers. This week I re­spond to a reader’s ques­tion about un­so­licited main­te­nance. Hello Mr Fran­cis,

I bought a lot in 2012 from my fam­ily in a prom­i­nent town house area. Since the pur­chase, when I do get a chance to visit the area, I no­ticed that the grass is al­ways main­tained. I’ve made sev­eral at­tempts to hire a land­scaper to cut the grass in the past, but upon vis­it­ing the prop­erty, I found that it had al­ready been cut.

In De­cem­ber 2015 I vis­ited there again and made ar­range­ments for the grass to be cut. Af­ter the work was fin­ished, the land­scaper told me he was ‘at­tacked’ by a man de­mand­ing for him to tell him who gave him per­mis­sion to cut the grass.

The last week in De­cem­ber, I made a visit again and re­alised that the lot was again re­cut. I was dis­turbed as there had been lit­tle to no rain in the area for the need for it to be cleaned again.

I have asked an ar­chi­tect to draw a house plan. He vis­ited the prop­erty re­cently and he told me a neigh­bour is re­quest­ing com­pen­sa­tion for years of main­tain­ing the lot.

I must also say that I have re­ceived text mes­sages and let­ters (to my home ad­dress), usu­ally from ‘anony­mous’, ask­ing/re­quest­ing that I make the prop­erty avail­able for sale. The last mes­sage was re­ceived in April.

Con­sid­er­ing that I have never given any­one my cur­rent home ad­dress nor my tele­phone num­ber, and I have A va­cant lot which neigh­bours say needs ur­gent clean­ing as it is an eyesore.

never spo­ken to any­one about the prop­erty, who lives in that com­mu­nity, what rights do I have in court here? Am I ob­li­gated by law to pay an in­di­vid­ual money to main­tain my prop­erty when they took it upon them­selves to do so? How do I avoid any prob­lems in the fu­ture when I am ready to build?

Thanks. Good day, C.C.B, I am sorry to hear of your unpleasant ex­pe­ri­ence with your soon-to-be neigh­bours. It is not the best thing to be at odds with your neigh­bours be­fore even mov­ing into the com­mu­nity.

The is­sue of per­sons calling and send­ing you mes­sages is a mat­ter that you would have to take up with the po­lice as I am un­able to tell you how they got your num­ber or ad­dress to be ha­rass­ing you about sale of your prop­erty.

As to the need to pay some­one to cut or main­tain your prop­erty, this de­pends on the na­ture of the ar­range­ment the com­mu­nity has with you or the pol­icy they have as a com­mu­nity.

If when you pur­chased the prop­erty you signed an agree­ment that the main­te­nance would be done by a des­ig­nated land­scaper, then you would be ob­li­gated to pay.

If you have not been keep­ing up to

your civic re­spon­si­bil­ity of keep­ing your lot clean and the com­mu­nity ci­ti­zens’ as­so­ci­a­tion deemed it un­sightly or a health threat (mosquito-breed­ing site, etc.) they could have gone ahead and cut same and now re­quire you to pay this sum over to them.

How­ever, un­less you signed a writ­ten agree­ment, you are not legally bound to pay. You will be also legally bound to pay if the per­sons who cut and main­tain your prop­erty put a caveat on your ti­tle to en­sure they re­ceive com­pen­sa­tion for the years of main­te­nance.

What the neigh­bours should have done, if the lot is a nui­sance, was to ad­vise the parish coun­cil of the health haz­ard it posed and the over­all safety threat, and have the coun­cil con­duct the bush­ing. At that time, you would be legally bound to pay.

So un­less a civil case is brought against you, in the ab­sence of an agree­ment, you are not legally bound to pay any­one who went ahead and main­tained your prop­erty with­out a spe­cific re­quest from you.

How­ever, since you will be neigh­bours soon, it would be bet­ter to start on a good note and not one of ac­ri­mony and bad blood.

As such, I rec­om­mend you talk to the neigh­bour to see if you can com­pen­sate him or her for some of the work done on your prop­erty. How­ever, en­sure that he and she pro­duces re­ceipt to val­i­date their claims.

If this ap­proach is taken, you should have no prob­lems when you start to build, and af­ter you move in, you and your neigh­bour can live in har­mony.

Un­til next time, tra­verse well.

I

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