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                       EVICTION IN LABASA INEVITABLE


The eviction last week by the Native Land Trust Board of defaulting tenants in Labasa was an unfortunate incident that should not have been necessary.


The lease in question was a commercial one on native land known as Burenileka (Part of) that had been transferred to tenants KALISI SOPUI, EPELI VUABALE, KAVIA ROVONAKULA  & JOSEFA RAMINAUKAILOMA on 17th Feb 1999.


Five years on, in 2004, no rentals had been made at all by the tenants, so on the 4th of June 2004, the NLTB served an arrears notice on them.


This arrears notice was ignored; by the 31st of December 2005, neither rentals nor arrears had been paid.  By then, the arrears had increased by a further $1200 after non-payment of one and a half years rent and an arrears collection fee of $112.50.


Earlier in the year, on the 31st of August 2005, the court had issued a writ of summons twice against the tenants - on the 7th September and the 31st of October - ordering payment of $7728.04 and $100 in costs.


This matter came to court on the 17th November 2005.


The court, however, restrained the NLTB from taking possession of the property provided the defendant continued to pay rent regularly.


Up until February 2008, the tenants still had not paid their arrears so on the 28th of February the NLTB filed an application in court to allow for the recovery.


Up until this month, April 2008, the tenants still had not paid arrears amounting to $7828.04 plus $128.76 for the costs of the execution of the court order, bringing the total amount owed by the tenants to $7956.80


The application to recover costs was finally granted by the court, and under the terms applied for by the NLTB, the court ordered the eviction on Wednesday, the 2nd of April 2008.


It took the NLTB nine years to finally come to this unfortunate conclusion.


Throughout this entire episode, the NLTB explored all legal and extra-legal avenues to persuade the tenants to pay their rental arrears, but to no avail.  This was never an issue that would disappear; over time, it would only diminish, as it did, the tenants’ ability to pay what they owed.


The eviction of non-paying tenants is a highly emotive issue that the NLTB is ever mindful of, but it is the last resort that it will ever take.


In this case, this was absolutely the last resort and was an incident that could well have been avoided had the tenants kept up with their payments.




21st April, 2008



For more information, contact Alipate Mataitini (3312 733

ext. 602) or Nimilote Naivalumaira (3312 733 ext 506)











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