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Housing in Trinidad & Tobago

Buying a Property

In Trinidad & Tobago, foreigners must obtain a licence before purchasing land and/or property. A new law took effect in Tobago on 16 February 2007 known as the Foreign Investment (Tobago Land Acquisition) Order 2007. The Order states that foreigners must now obtain a licence to acquire land for any purpose on the whole island of Tobago.

Permission to buy land does not confer residency. However, if you plan to come on holiday to enjoy your new property, a non-resident is usually allowed up to three months, with or without the need for a visa, which depends on the country of origin. Discretionary extensions can be applied for.

Foreigners wishing to invest in larger properties of over five acres must apply for a development licence through the Tourism Development Company (TDC). The TDC will facilitate applications, and advise on fiscal incentives.

Buying a commercial property does not confer the right to work (earn an income) in Trinidad & Tobago. Work permits are needed for any work that lasts longer than 30 days.

When the price of the property has been agreed upon by the buyer and the seller, both parties enter into an Agreement of Sale and a 10% deposit to be held in escrow is required of the buyer. It is stated in the Sales Agreement that both parties have 90 days to complete everything that is needed to close the transaction.

The next step is to hire a lawyer to prepare documents for conveyance and to do a title search on the property. It must be ascertained that the property is free from any encumbrance.

After the all costs, including the balance on the purchase price, have been paid, the stamped instruments must be registered. Under the Real Property Ordinance, registration is compulsory for the transfer to be effective. The lawyer will register the property in the Red House (the seat of the National Parliament). The registration must be brought to the Warden’s Office where the property is located. Registration of all purchases made by foreigners with the Ministry of Finance is required.

The friendliness of the locals means that foreigners do not tend to stick together in their own communities so there are no particular residential areas which are more suitable than others.

Renting a Property

Furnished dwelling houses with a monthly rent of TT$1,000 or less are subject to rent restriction. Unfurnished dwellings with a monthly rent of TT$1,500 are likewise covered. Under the Rent Restriction Act, rent adjustments for covered dwelling houses are subject to the approval of Rent Assessment Board. Either the landlord or the tenant may apply for a review of rent.

Every tenant and landlord, whether or not the dwelling house is covered by the Rent Restriction Act, is required to register with the Rent Assessment Board. The landlord has to register only once, but the tenant must register every time he signs a contract. If the tenant is unregistered, he loses most of his rights.

Rents are paid in advance. The terms for deposit and its return should be specified in the contract. Some apartment blocks will have shared services such as cleaners, particularly for communal areas, but this will be specified in the contract.

Usual rental agreements last for a year. If the tenant wishes to renew the contract, the tenant must inform the landlord in writing on or before the expiration of the contract.

It is possible that the contract would expire but the landlord and tenant have no intention of ending the tenancy. In the absence of a new contract, the tenancy may be ended by a notice to quit.





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