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Welcome visitors. We felt it was critically important here at NLTB to add this page devoted to the hard topics and the hard questions concerning Native Land. We intend here to dispel all the innuendo, inconsistencies and just plain falsities that that have plagued Native Land for years. People....prospective tenants and investors, landowners, lessee’s and other concerned parties do have legitimate ongoing concerns, and we intend to address them here with clear candor and transparency. So let’s begin.

Investors/Prospective Tenants considering Native Land are concerned most about three things:

1) Timing to Lease Closing
2) Security of Land
3) Renewability of Lease

Native Landowners are also concerned with three things:

1) Timing to Lease Closing
2) Receiving Fair Market Values
3) Timely and Accurate Payouts

The Nature of Risk

First of all, it is important to note that every property deal has risk(s) associated with it. The questions one needs to ask oneself are...Is your assessment of these risks accurate? Are these risks at acceptable levels or are they deal breakers? Are there contingencies that can lessen the impact? When all the risks are properly evaluated and then applied in the decision making process, we feel that Native Land generally offers the finest values available in the Fiji marketplace.

Investor / Prospective Tenant Concerns

:: Timing

Every NLTB property transaction essentially has the same steps.  They are:

  • Sourcing the desired property
  • Site survey
  • Landowner Approval (51% of all owners over 21 years old)
  • Internal Processing of Admin, Legal, etc
  • Final Negotiations
  • Closing

Parts of the above processes are in the hands of NLTB, others are the responsibility of various government agencies and still others are elements that the two negotiating parties control themselves. We would love to say, in theory this will generally take less than 6 months to go from start to finish, but in reality that is still not always the case. What we can definitely say is that NLTB has moved light years ahead in its internal administrative processes and we are committed to improving every area which is not considered to be at a first class, professional level.

At the present time, it is better to prepare oneself for a one year turnover from start to finish once you have firmly selected your desired property. Please be aware that the <Fiji Lands Department> is responsible for the approval of the site survey therefore it is in every developer/prospective tenant’s best interest to engage the Lands Department at the very earliest possible moment.

When one factor’s a more reasonable and realistic timeline into your projections, the costing and potential levels of frustration will be kept to a minimum. We also suggest that maintaining very regular contact with your case project manager will also prove fruitful. While it’s true that NLTB and Native Land presents a slightly more difficult path to closure than some freehold situations, we ask you to remember the ultimate payoff.

:: Security of Land

Most prospective lessees have heard the rumors of local takeovers, access blockage and post-closing disputes concerning property lines, usage, terms, etc. While it’s undeniable that these still do occasionally occur in Fiji, it is also important to understand why they happen, how they can be avoided, and what your options are when faced with these possibilities.

Why disputes occur?

The major reason for any dispute is that the land developer has not been clear and upfront as to their intentions with the property site or communication of these intentions was poorly disseminated to the involved community. Involving the landowning factions in your decision, addressing them with customary protocols and providing favorable employment opportunities, wherever possible, for locals will contribute significantly towards avoiding these types of conflicts. Occasional but consistent follow-up also proves quite effective. Overseas investors unfamiliar with local customs and protocols who take rigid, hard line stances are the ones who have occasionally found themselves at odds with locals and the landowning factions. It is also very important to note that freehold property owners often face the exact same type of disputes. In those situations, the locals simply blocking access ways to the properties. The moral of the story is that Fiji has certain customs and innate practices that will always revolve around land. Land is a very sacred issue to Fijians and if handled with proper care and diligence and will generally be able to avoid major concerns.

How can conflicts be avoided?

It’s a simple strategy. Involve the landowners if you have specific intentions and consider any ancillary areas where your project may somehow affect landowners. Try to get as close to unanimous approval as possible when the site survey is completed. If you take extra care at the beginning to handle dissenting opinions you will certainly reduce the possibilities of disputes later.

Work hard to try and accommodate employment opportunities for locals whenever possible. Win/win situations always work best. Familiarize yourself with Fijian customs and protocols. Maintain an atmosphere of inclusion even after your deal had closed.

What are your options?

First of all, at the first hint of any dispute, NLTB should be notified so that we may immediately step in to reduce tension and uncover the source of any conflict. We will quietly assess the situation; engage our legal staff for a review, analysis, action plan and implementation. The political climate in Fiji has shown less and less support for unjustified and unwarranted local actions and courts have made it a priority to address these matters in a timely fashion as well. So all things considered, for a lessee who uses forethought and who applies reasonable levels of concern and attention, the issue of land security issue of very limited risk for any residence or development.

Responding now to concerns about land security from a national / political perspective, the Republic of Fiji is a controlled democratic government which participates in the Commonwealth of Nations. Native leases are considered as strong as any freehold title from a legal perspective and courts diligently uphold all contracts equally. Fiji has now experienced three successive elections campaigns without incident and, in fact, has recently shown unprecedented political harmony with a multi-party derived cabinet that is perhaps unlike any other in the world. Any greater concern about our nation’s long term stability again would therefore equally apply to freehold title or freehold arrangements as they would to Native Land.

:: Renewability

Most NLTB leases are for a length of 99 years. Every lease has two major elements that protect a lessee seeking to renew their lease arrangement. First of all, the landowning units are responsible for remunerating back to the lessee the non-depreciated asset amount for all improvements at the time of takeover. So it is clear that significant capital improvements in the final years of a lease term will provide enhanced leverage in negations to renew your lease.

Secondly, a mediation/arbitration clause is also included in any lease agreement that provides the lessee with confidence that an ability to renew your lease at current market rates will always be available pending the results of an arbitration hearing for the rates. We understand that consumer confidence is important for native leases to become more and more common place over the ensuing years. We feel that these two contractual components should greatly enhance the prospective investors comfort level.

:: Fair Market Value

An important part of the NLTB service to landowners is to provide assistance in terms of acquiring fair market value of all leases handled under our auspices. We have an extensive database of transactions already in house and any transaction that does not pass our litmus tests for reasonability would quickly be red flagged.

Optimizing landowner value is of the utmost importance to our organization and this is addressed in all areas of the lease negotiation from the intended use of the property, to the lease payout, and including the cost of living adjustments, financial solubility of the prospective lease, and educational elements for the landowners, etc. Diligence served in NLTB’s established protocols in investigating and reviewing these should bring landowners great comfort that they have participated in fundamentally solid long-term contract.

:: Timely Payouts

The effectiveness of NLTB’s internal administration has improved dramatically over recent years. We are proud to report that payouts made to landowners have never been more timely and accurate and recent independent auditing points to these accomplishments. This all being said, there is always room for future improvement and enhanced efficiencies and we here at NLTB are striving to become the shining light in terms of a Fiji Government service provider.

We have added additional levels of internal transparency to improve organizational effectiveness and our Contact Us feature of the website is one such example. When you email us through this website, take comfort in the fact that your question/ comment/ concern has been sent to multiple layers of the responsible department so all are aware of progress or lack thereof, inquiry, concern or even congratulation. We here at NLTB look forward to a future of producing greater and greater value to all our current and future portfolios landowning units.

:: Conclusion

We hope this effort to dispel rumors, innuendos and just plain fallacies of Native Land and NLTB services has assisted both prospective and actual tenants as well as landowning units in gaining greater confidence in the entire NLTB mechanism and in the tremendous value of Native Land.

 
   
 
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