A story carried in the Nation newspaper with the headline NHC Evicts Tenant on the 29 September 2022 caught the eye. The tenant was evicted after falling $100,000 in arrears. It became a court matter in 2014 and a court order was issued by the Barbados Court of Appeal to evict handed down in April 2022 according to the report. The report suggested the tenant felt comfortable racking up the rent because she was a close friend of a politician affiliated with the government of the day. for sure other reasons are at play.
There are several issues inquiring minds should want to unpack arising from the report.
We understand a culture of nepotism operating in Barbados is entrenched to the point it is defended as a right of practice. That a tenant would feel emboldened to occupy a taxpayer subsidised housing unit since 2011 and refuse to pay a single cent in rent is probably the tip of the iceberg. Let us not forget the decision government took regarding squatters at Rock Hall in order to be politically expedient.
- Why did the case take 12 years to reach a point an eviction order was finally issued by the Court of Appeal in April?
- What does it say about inefficient processes required to seek justice?
- What does it say about how the NHC as agent for government prosecuted the matter?
- Who dropped the ball in this matter to the point taxpayers are left holding the bag to the tune of $100,000 plus legal and other cost incurred with the case?
- Stories are heard daily about the grief landlords have to endure with uncooperative tenants. If the government had to initiate a 12 year process and tens of thousands dollars to evict a single tenant, what hope is there the process will be less accommodating for John Citizen?
- One suspects there is more to the matter detailed in the Nation newspaper – isn’t there enough historical information to support we have a problem?
A problem that can be defined by the sloth of government bureaucracy, a moribund justice system AND a citizenry unwilling to actively exercise its civic duty.
See Nation article.
NHC evicts tenant
Almost $100 000 in arrears, says state-owned entity
by MARIA BRADSHAW
A WOMAN WHO OWES the National Housing Corporation (NHC) close to $100 000 in rental arrears accumulated over a 12-year period, was finally evicted yesterday from the unit she was occupying at Country Park Towers, Country Road, St Michael.
Court marshals swooped down on the third storey unit early yesterday morning and began moving out furniture and other household effects in the presence of the woman and her daughter.
The rental arrears is said to be the most owed by a tenant in recent times.
Last April this newspaper reported that the NHC had won a judgement in the Court of Appeal for $86 000 against the delinquent tenant for the outstanding arrears while the court had also granted the state owned entity permission to take possession of the unit. Since then the arrears had continued to increase and was said to now be at $94 000.
When contacted about this matter, the NHC issued a statement through its public relations department indicating that the action, though unfortunate, was unavoidable.
“The eviction process this morning was carried out by court marshals in accordance with a court order issued. This has been an ongoing legal matter dating as far back as 2014, when the court originally granted an order for eviction as a result of outstanding arrears. At that time, the tenant was granted leave to appeal the order. However, she took no further action and the court reinstated the order last year. This process was completed today,” the statement read.
It added: “This is an unfortunate situation, one which we at the NHC worked hard to avoid, as we normally do in these circumstances. Long before this became a court matter in 2014 our finance department sent numerous statements advising of the outstanding arrears. Several letters were also sent and many calls were made to the tenant in an attempt to come to a suitable arrangement to settle. These are steps the NHC ordinarily take when clients are in arrears. However, during this time the tenant made no attempt to cooperate with us either by making payments towards the arrears or rent. Evictions are not taken lightly by the NHC, especially in these times. This is definitely not the route we wish to take. We tried everything in our power to come to a mutual agreement to avoid what eventually unfolded today.”
Reports indicate that the woman moved into the high rise unit in 2011 shortly after it was built but never paid a cent of the $207 weekly in rent even though she was gainfully employed.
Sources revealed that when summoned to a meeting at the NHC, the woman had indicated that she was “a very close friend” of a politician from a previous administration and was recommended by that person to occupy the unit.
A source said following last year’s court order the NHC served notice on the woman to vacate the premises but she did not move out, which forced them to go to the chief marshal for possession.
The source further revealed that the woman’s possessions which were taken away by two trucks yesterday, would be marked and placed in storage and she would be given an opportunity to collect them.
Speaking on this matter back in 2020, George Edghill, deputy chairman of the NHC board, had pointed out that when the new board was appointed in June 2018, the tenant was already in arrears of over $55 000. He said the board had at that time instructed the legal department to
take all appropriate legal action to repossess the unit.
Yesterday an NHC official reiterated that while the NHC always worked with tenants who were going through financial hardship, it would not tolerate tenants who were employed but refused to pay rent.
During the court proceedings the NHC was represented by attorneys Roy Alleyne and Nicole Gibson while Kings Counsel Michael Lashley appeared amicus curiae for the tenant after her attorney Denis Headley asked the court for leave to withdraw.