QUESTION: Dear Legal wiz,
I heard recently that a woman is trying to take over my house.
I heard it all from the person who she actually rented the property to. Note I did not give this woman permission to rent my house in the first place. We happen to be owners as tenants in common of the property, but at no time did I tell her she could go into my side and rent my property.
Perhaps I should tell you that it was my mother who was the real co-owner till her death. I recently got Administration rights through the court to be the owner.
Now I am hearing that she has a tenant who she acquired and evicted all without my knowledge. I sent someone to the property with the ex-tenant after she contacted me and was told that after she kicked out the young woman she destroyed parts of my house, such as wiring, the bathroom. I understand that even the court was involved even though the tenant this woman evicted never got a notice, and never went to court before a judge.
I followed up with the tenant and she said she wants to stay there till I come for a visit to Jamaica. If the woman really destroyed my house I want her to compensate me or fix back my side of the property. What steps can I now take as this woman also destroyed my house.
RESPONSE: Dear Jana,
Thank you for communicating with us and do apologise for any inconvenience caused from this experience. We did research the matter and found it to be true. Our research also revealed a number of steps that you can take. Firstly if you trust this individual who got the place to rent, you should consider giving her documents to confirm her as a caretaker or assign this task to someone you can rely on.
This ‘tenant’ should be encouraged to make her way to see the clerk of court as quickly as possible and relate her story and also to inform the Clerk that the woman had no legal rights to evict her. You will need to provide her with proof such as a copy of the title. However, it seems that what happened was that your mother who is now deceased was the co-owner of the property and the woman used the opportunity to act as though she was the only person to benefit.
This is still wrong as in a case of Tenants in Common no one gets possession or ownership of what the other person leaves behind at death as is the case with Joint Tenancy.
The Clerk of court will assist the ‘tenant’ to acquire another order to have her moved back into the house.
Several procedures through the courts are going to be needed to be taken as you seek numerous remedies to rectify the situation. These include other steps such as to sue her for any rent that she collected, and also to fix your house to a point that is satisfactory to you, and a liveable condition. It is possible that she can be found criminally liable for trespass.
Its best to get proper advice from an attorney-at-law or assign someone who can act on your behalf to carry out procedures that will be necessary.
A list of damages done and proper professional photographs need to be taken for example.
Should you need us to further assist you physically, please do not hesitate to contact us by email.
All the best.