I want to buy Portland beauty, but I need a good legal advisor, help! (Jamaica)

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I want to buy Portland beauty, but I need a good legal advisor, help!

Published Apr 2, 2012
Portland from Art PATCH series by Anthea McGibbon
A quick capture of Portland, in painting by Anthea McGibbon

QUESTION: Hello Legal Wiz, 

I hope this reaches the right sort of inbox.
I'm looking for a good source of legal advice in Jamaica with regard to a lovely bit of land in Portland which I am hoping to buy. 

I can see from the comments on your website that you've got some happy clients: I'd like to be a new one. I came through the portal of your very wide ranging (and inspiring) website www.antheamcgibbon.com. Am I writing to Anthea or to somebody else in the team?

What I'm looking for is help with a property purchase. 
I am familiar with the procedure of property purchase here in UK but the Jamaican system is different. 
I love this piece of land - it's my dream and I want to make sure I take all the rights steps to make this come true. The vendors have a solicitor already and surely I need one too.
Briefly, the situation is as follows :
I'm looking for a good source of legal advice in Jamaica with regard to a lovely bit of land in Portland which I am hoping to buy... I can see from the comments on your website that you've got some happy clients: I'd like to be a new one.
  • the property I hope to buy is in a rural area in the hills above Port Antonio.
  • The property is about 13 acres of woodland with one semi-derelict block & zinc structure on it.
  • No estate agent is involved - I heard about the place being for sale through friends who put me in touch with the owners.
  • So far no concrete steps have been taken. I've just expressed my serious intent. 
  • The owners have shown me a copy of a Title and of a Survey. I have these on my computer (PDFThe scans) 
  • I'm awaiting receipt of a valuation report.
  • I am a UK citizen - no family on Jamaica & no plans for marrying anyone) 
  • I will not need a mortgage (have saved money for this purpose waiting for the right place). 
  • The current owners / vendors are a group of people - a mix of jamaicans and foreigners. 
  • The current owners formed a company to facilitate their joint ownership & management of the place. 
  • I am familiar with the procedure of property purchase here in UK but the Jamaican system is different - I'm tired of struggling to fish for good information on the internet: the vendors have a solicitor already and surely I need one too.
Questions include:
  • How do I find out whether the survey and title are good or if further work be needed on this?
  • Must figure out whether it would be a good idea for me to buy the company or if it's better for me to ask the vendors to dissolve this and just sell me the property?
  • I've read about the importance of a 'covenant' but don't really understand what it is. 
  • Do I need to submit a plan for what I hope to build there (residential building on top of /around the existing block structure) before I can buy the place? 
  • I've heard a rumour that legal water and electricity connection is necessary in order for the sale to proceed. Is this so? 
  • The first real step I think is a sales agreement - do I and my legal advisor have a part to play in this or is it just the vendors who draw this up? 
I guess that's enough info for now. 
Please do get back to me. I have a good feeling about you from the website and am keen to learn what sort of fees would be involved in asking you to represent / guide me through this slightly daunting process. 
Thanks, 
Norma

___________________________________________

RESPONSE: Dear Norma,

Thank you for writing in and for your compliment of the website.

1. HOW DO I FIND OUT WHETHER THE SURVEY AND TITLE ARE GOOD, OR, IF FURTHER WORK BE NEEDED ON THIS?

RESEARCHING SURVEY: You may contact Surveys & Mapping Division for investigations on the survey.
The physical office is at National Land Agency
23 ½ Charles Street
Kingston
Tel: 876-750-5263
Fax: 876-967-1010
Website: http://www.nla.gov.jm/
RESEARCHING TITLE: You may contact or research online, but bear in mind that the records are still being updated, so its best to have it done in person.
Please visit and download the form from this address: http://www.nla.gov.jm/forms_landtitles.asp

The street address and telephone contact is:
93 Hanover Street, Kingston | 876-750-LAND (5263) | 876-946-LAND (5263) | 876-922-3858
NB: You may need to do another survey if the title and current survey on file is considered old, as boundaries may have changed

2. MUST FIGURE OUT WHETHER IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA FOR ME TO BUY THE COMPANY OR IF IT'S BETTER FOR ME TO ASK THE VENDORS TO DISSOLVE THIS AND JUST SELL ME THE PROPERTY?

If  you are asking what exactly to buy, this is up to you really.

3. I'VE READ ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF A 'COVENANT' BUT DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS.

A covenant is the agreement in layman terms and is legally binding.  Covenants expresses terms, entitlement as agreed between buyer and seller. It stipulates also any existing conditions such as encumbrances, restrictions, protection for example. More on covenant is found on the website.

4. DO I NEED TO SUBMIT A PLAN FOR WHAT I HOPE TO BUILD THERE (RESIDENTIAL BUILDING ON TOP OF /AROUND THE EXISTING BLOCK STRUCTURE) BEFORE I CAN BUY THE PLACE?

You need to submit a plan, but after you make purchase

5. I'VE HEARD A RUMOUR THAT LEGAL WATER AND ELECTRICITY CONNECTION IS NECESSARY IN ORDER FOR THE SALE TO PROCEED. IS THIS SO?

This is not so

6. THE FIRST REAL STEP I THINK IS A SALES AGREEMENT - DO I AND MY LEGAL ADVISOR HAVE A PART TO PLAY IN THIS OR IS IT JUST THE VENDORS WHO DRAW THIS UP?

The sales agreement is the vendor's responsibility. Please read this link for more information on buying or selling. More on the procedures can be had on this website or on www.antheamcgibbon.com.

7. AM I WRITING ANTHEA McGIBBON DIRECT?

Anthea is the member of the team, clients usually meets first. Otherwise several persons including her carry out varied tasks as becomes necessary to assist the client, whether he/she is a reader with questions or clients for actual physical work.

Tags: Jamaica survey, national land agenc, Portland beauty, survey search

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