3 Sep 2002

Fiji's NLTB says it is within its rights to ask for compensation from departing tenants

6:44 pm on 3 September 2002

Fiji's Native Lands Trust Board says landlords have the right to claim compensation from departing tenants under the Agricultural Landlords and Tenants Act, ALTA.

Its general manager, Kalivati Bakani, says under ALTA any landlord, not only the NLTB, has the right to claim compensation from the tenant if they can prove that degradation or damage was caused to the farmland by the tenant's actions.

He was commenting on statements by the National Farmers Union that letters sent out to tenants as their leases expire demanding a minimum of four thousand 700 US dolalrs was sheer extortion and blackmail.

The union general secretary, Mahendra Chaudhry, said the demand was completely illegal and advised farmers to challenge it in court.

But Mr Bakani says the ALTA law requires the Board to issue such notices at least one month before the lease is due to expire, after which the Agricultural Tribunal would determine whether compensation is payable and if so what amount.

Mr Bakani says it has been issuing such notices for two years without any complaint and has invited Mr Chaudhry or any tenant to call into the NLTB's offices for clarification.