NEWS

Sudhakar Stresses On Lands, Leases

One of the most serious breaches is Condition Nine of leasing agriculture land. This Condition requires that at least 50 per cent of the leased land be planted with crops within the first two years of the lease and a minimum of 75 per cent of the land be planted with crops within four years of the date of issuance of the lease and for the remainder of the lease term.
31 Jan 2019 11:04
Sudhakar Stresses On Lands, Leases
Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Ashneel Sudhakar

Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Ashneel Sudhakar has highlighted a number of breaches by tenants leasing Crown Land which is costing Government money.

One of the most serious breaches is Condition Nine of leasing agriculture land. This Condition requires that at least 50 per cent of the leased land be planted with crops within the first two years of the lease and a minimum of 75 per cent of the land be planted with crops within four years of the date of issuance of the lease and for the remainder of the lease term.

“During our inspection we have found out that some lessees have obtained agricultural leases and are not cultivating it as per the above condition or at all. In some cases, people have left land idle for over 20 years,” he said.

“This is causing substantial loss to the agriculture sector and the economy as a whole. In these cases, no rent is paid to the Ministry because the lessee had abandoned the land and there is no productive use of the land.”

He said the most common breach they found was non-payment of rental.

“As per the lease condition, lessees are required to pay their rental by two equal half yearly payments not later than the last day of January and July in each and every year,” he said.

“This rental is subject to reassessment every five years. The lessees are advised that once they fail to make their rental payment on time they will be subjected to interest on the arrears as high as 12 per cent per annum. Arrears and interest keep on accumulating.

“Any application for consent by the lessee such as sale, transfer and subletting will require them to clear their arrears with interest which can cause delay in processing their applications.”

Mr Sudhakar said that condition two of the lease agreement they have with the lessee stipulates that the lessee shall not transfer, sublet, mortgage assign or part with the possession of the whole or any part of the demised land.

“If you are a lessee of a state lease, you must have the written consent of the Director of Lands before occupying, building, cultivating, selling, renting out,” he added.

He added that they have found that lessees constantly breach these terms in creating tenancies which is causing delay in lease renewals since we are unable to identify the rightful person to issue the lease to.

Mr Sudhakar said that condition six of the lease requires only such building shall be erected on the demised land as are necessary for a dwelling or dwellings for the lessee.

“We have found out that lessees are allowing families as well as outsiders to build on agricultural land for cash or reward which is causing land for farming to diminish,” he said.

Mr Sudhakar said that condition 16 requires that the lessee shall not subdivide the lease without the written consent of the lessor first had and obtained.

“People who buy State land without Director of Lands consent are warned that they are breaking the law and could be liable for fines and penalties such dealings will not be recognised by the Lands

“Lessees who breach conditions of the lease issued to them by the State open themselves up to re entry and cancellation of lease by the Director of Lands.

They are also liable to pay penalties, Mr Sudhakar warned.

Edited by Susana Tuilau

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