After more than five decades of renting a piece of land in the Belle Gully area, a St Michael family has been told by the landowners they have to vacate the premises by tomorrow morning or their houses will be demolished.
The Stoute family of four, who occupy two wooden structures – a three-bedroom and a two-bedroom – with concrete foundations, said while they were not opposed to moving the houses, they were not given adequate notice.
Spokesman for the family Hallam Stoute told Barbados TODAY he received notice on Tuesday. But Stoute, who operates his mechanic shop at the location, said the family had nowhere else to go.
“I can’t remember the guy’s name but I received the information on Tuesday at 12 o’clock that by Friday [we had to move].
“At first he was saying Thursday, but when we spoke to him he then understood where we were coming from and said he would give us an extra day, until Friday morning at 6 o’clock to move out everything, including the garage” he explained.
However, Stoute, who lives with his 58-year-old mother Margaret who reportedly suffers with rheumatoid arthritis, his 62-year-old uncle Jeffery who is partially blind and medically unfit to work, along with another uncle and brother, admitted that a dispute had erupted following the passage of Tropical Storm Tomas in October 2010.
That was when the daughter of the landowner took over management of the property, Stoute said, while pointing out that his family had carried out repairs to the houses.
Stoute also noted that the Urban Development Commission (UDC) had sent a letter on their behalf to the owners of the land who, he said, had agreed through their lawyers for the repairs to be done.
However, the matter eventually ended up in court and by a letter dated January 2013 the Stoute family were given until April 2013 to vacate the property. The landowner had also refused to take the $300 owed per year in rent.
“We then went to [the UDC] because they still had some legal interest in the houses. So they said they would take it from there in terms of seeing if they could get us more time,” Stoute further explained.
However, he said that was the last they had heard of the matter until Tuesday when notice was given to them.
“It is only now, after all that time that the people now come and say we have to move. And we had only roughly two days to move,” he lamented.
Member of Parliament for St Michael East Trevor Prescod was on location today when a Barbados TODAY team arrived. He said he had already made contact with UDC today and would be doing whatever he could to assist the family, even if it meant getting an injunction to stop the planned demolition.
“They [the family] are now trying to make alternative arrangements to see if a landowner will rent them house spots. The other aspect of it is that they have a right because the law makes provision that as long as wall is a part of the unit affixed to the ground, as approved by the landlord, then the tenant can remain in the house as long as the tenant continues to pay the rent,” Prescod added.
Today Barbados TODAY contacted Denaz Chambers, which is the legal representative for the landowners. However, no one was available for comment.
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