FURTHER land lots have sold quickly at Taveuni Estates, with sporadic listings by foreign land owners trying to meet a December 31 deadline to either build on vacant property or face hefty fines under the amended Land Sales (Amended) Act 2014.
Those unable to complete construction within the prescribed period may apply for an extension to a review committee established by the Minister for Finance, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
Fiji’s community of foreign landowners has widely disparaged the amended Act, with a newly formed Fiji Land Owners Association saying the law will disproportionately punish small lot owners – many who wish only to retire in Fiji – by drawing no distinctions between them and speculative commercial real estate investors.
The Act requires foreign landowners of vacant State and Freehold land to complete construction of a new residential dwelling at a minimal building cost of $250,000, from 31 December 2014 – for those who had already owned land when this new law was effected.
“Because of the new land law, my clients need to sell now before the December 31 deadline,” noted Stephen Noble of Noble Realty, which has now sold 66 properties.
On Thursday morning alone, three consecutive lots on Unit 2B of the Estate were sold collectively for $60,000. With three separate Freehold titles, two lots measured at over an acre each with the third spread over 8/10 acres.
Amid the scramble to sell up, Noble said he only had nine lots remaining to sell.
Those who fail to meet the December 31 deadline will be fined a fixed penalty of 10 percent of the price at which the land was either sold or leased to them at 6-monthly intervals until construction is completed. Similarly, foreign owners who were transferred such vacant land shall be liable to pay the State a fixed penalty of 10 percent of the value of the land, while those who contravene this will be liable- upon conviction – to a fine not exceeding $100,000.
Exemptions apply to integrated tourism developments and the subdivision and sale of residential lots including the development of jetties, moorings, recreational facilities, and other amenities, while the Act restricts the sale of Freehold properties within town or city boundaries to non-residents.
Questions sent to the Ministry of Economy on the issue remain unanswered.