Brantley: Develop the Land Or Lose It

December 05, 2019 in National

Foreign entities who acquire land on Nevis for development but fail to fulfill their obligations within the legal parameters set out in the law, face losing that asset to the government.

According to Nevis Premier Mark Brantley, the NIA will be looking defaulters with a view to enforce the penalties prescribed in the Aliens land holding Regulation Act. He said too often foreign interests claim they are acquiring land on the island for development but instead, leave said property to appreciate in value only to sell it later on.

“We will also conduct a full review of our Alien Landholding License policy with a view to more stringently enforcing the requirements for the granting of a license. The current legislation provides that an Alien Landholding License be issued to non-nationals who are interested in purchasing property on Nevis for development, whether it be commercial development or residential on the condition that the development occurs within a period of 18 months. We are fully aware that there are a number of persons, who having been granted licenses, have refused to complete the development but seek instead to speculate on the land by holding it for a number of years undeveloped with the intention to resell the said property and benefit from the appreciation in value.

“This is not in keeping with the conditions under which licenses are granted and therefore my Government will immediately seek to enforce the penalty as enshrined in the legislation in such instances where persons choose not to conform to the requirements for the granting of the Alien Landholding License. Mr President, I issue a warning to such defaulters that they comply with the conditions of their Alien Land Holding License or face the consequences. We have compiled a list of defaulters and plan to aggressively pursue this matter in the fiscal year 2020.”

According to the regulations, on breach of any condition of the Aliens land holding Act, the estate or interest of the alien in the land or mortgage shall be forfeited to the Crown once there is a judgment declaring a forfeiture.

During Tuesday’s 2020 NIA Budget Address, Premier Brantley also put local land and property owners on notice regarding the non-payment of taxes for unoccupied properties.

“The structure of our property tax is due for review during the new fiscal period. While there is no intention to increase the tax rate, every effort will be made to ensure that all properties fall into the tax net. Properties that are habitable would immediately fall into the tax net with the tax calculated on the value of the property at that point in time. We will also embark upon a program of identifying and making contact with owners of unoccupied properties who may have migrated overseas so as to ensure that the annual property tax notices are brought to their attention. Too often these tax notices are returned to the department as there are no occupants at these properties thus depriving the government of its due revenue from the Property Taxes.

“My Government is determined …to collect outstanding revenues on the many abandoned properties that are dotted around the island… and the Inland Revenue Department will make every effort to pursue defaulting taxpayers in respect of such properties.”