What is the Squatter Regularization Programme?
Squatter Regularization involves two activities:
- Title regularisation: provides security of tenure (i.e. a legal interest in land) to certain persons who were illegally occupying state lands prior to 1st January 1998. To be considered, these squatters would have had to apply for regularization and meet all the other legal requirements in accordance with the provisions of the State Land (Regularization of Tenure) Act, Chap 57:05 Act No. 25 1998.
- Infrastructure regularisation: refers to the implementation and/or up-grading of the physical infrastructure of designated squatter communities ear-marked for regularization such as the improved road works, drainage, waste water disposal and by providing potable water and other basic amenities.
What is Squatter Containment?
Squatter containment is the prevention of further squatting on state lands. This involves working with the Commissioner of State Lands and other state agencies to monitor and patrol state lands and to take necessary action in accordance with the State Lands Act Chapter 57:01 and Laws of Trinidad and Tobago.
How does one apply for regularization?
In order to apply for regularization, someone who was illegally occupying state land prior to 1st January, 1998 would have had to apply for a Certificate of Comfort in the prescribed statutory format, under the provisions of the State Land (Regularisation of Tenure) Act, Chapter 57.05 Act No. 25 1998. This is the first step in the regularization process to obtain security of tenure.
What is a Certificate of Comfort (COC)?
A Certificate of Comfort (COC) is a document which gives a squatter a personal right to protection from ejectment from State Land. It does not convey/give a squatter any interest in the state land that is occupied. If a squatter with a COC has to be relocated, the COC provides a guarantee that a lot will be provided.
Who can make an application for a COC?
Only squatters who were occupying state land prior to 1st January, 1998 could have made an application for a COC on or before 27th October, 2000 in the manner prescribed by the State Land (Regularization of Tenure) Chapter 57:.05, Act No. 25 of 1998.
Can a squatter now make an application for a COC?
No. they cannot. Under the provisions of the State Land (Regularisation of Tenure) Act, Chapter 57.05, Act. No. 25 of 1998, the deadline for submission of applications for a COC was 27th October 2000. The LSA does not have the power to extend the deadline at this time.
Is a COC a deed?
No. A COC is not a deed. It does not give a squatter any right, legal interest or title to State Land.
What, then, is the purpose of the COC?
A COC provides a squatter with protection from being ejected off State Land. It is the first step in a three-stage process towards the squatter ultimately acquiring security of tenure by way of a Deed of Lease.
Can I use my COC as security/collateral at the Bank or Credit Union to obtain financial loan?
No. A COC does not give you any legal interest in State Land therefore it cannot be used as security/collateral for obtaining a financial loan.