Grace Period for Rental Debtors

Jan. 24, 2018, 11:54 a.m.

The I Taukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) is owed more than $18.3 million in land rent arrears by over 20,000 tenants.

The organization administers leases of Native land and confirmed the extent of payment arrears, as of January 1 this year.

A statement from its management is calling upon owing tenants to pay their outstanding debts and avoid court action and possible eviction from leased land lots.

It has offered to waive the payment of all interest on rent and fees if tenants take advantage of its grace period, from January to June 2018.

“The grace period would run from until the last day of June this year and is an initiative to recover the land rent arrears that had been accumulated over the years and provide all landowners what they were entitled to receive from the use of their land,” it noted.

“TLTB tenants are reminded to once again ensure timely payment of their rent by 1 January and 1 July every year. But to qualify for the waiver, tenants must pay their current rent and also settle their arrears of previous years.”

On January 6, the organization was ordered by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to return a portion of leased Native land belonging to the landowning unit of Naibili in Vatukarasa, one of several villages nestled on the waterfront of the Coral Coast stretch between Nadi Town and the capital city, Suva.

Members of the unit claimed to have leased only 40 acres of their land, bordering Sovi Bay to a Chinese developer, and were surprised to learn from the TLTB that the land leased had been exceed to include 78 acres.

The issue was brought to the Prime Minister’s attention during a consultation at Talenavuruvuru in Sigatoka town, where upon inquiry, a TLTB official told those present that the lessee had been advised to stop work, for assessments.

 “Mr Bainimarama further queried why the leased amount was more than what was agreed,” the organization noted.

“Receiving no response from the trust, he directed the excess land be returned to the rightful landowners and that they look into the agreement again. More than 200 lessees and landowners attended the consultation.”

According to the TLTB, issues discussion revolved around breaches to lease agreements, assistance for farmers and those seeking to renew leases.

Over 90 per cent of Fiji’s landmass is made up of Native titles, and as its administrator, lease types include agricultural, commercial, educational, forestry, government, industrial, residential, tourism, water and mineral, amongst others.