Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Adrian Leonce is encouraging the recipients of certificates of comfort for land ownership to follow through with the established process that would grant them regularisation on state lands.
Leonce made the remarks during his address at a distribution ceremony for the certificates at the Government Campus Plaza Auditorium, Richmond Street, Port of Spain, on Wednesday.
The certificate of comfort grants the holder protection from being ejected from state lands and also gives them the right to access utilities and government assistance to improve their homes.
People who have been issued a certificate of comfort can also qualify for a statutory lease where they are given 30 years to pay for their parcel of land without interest.
Once the land has been paid for, the leaseholder will then be granted a deed of lease for a period of 199 years.
A deed of lease will only be granted once the applicant does not own any other properties.
Those who received the certificates would have submitted applications before the deadline of October 27, 2000.
Leonce said while it was a long period to wait for regularisation it was due to the lengthy time for legal processes to be completed.
He said despite this, he hoped that the certificate holders continued to follow through with their applications and payments to gain ownership of the land.
He said the applicants would not only gain a peace of mind as they would be protected from ejection, but they could also invest in their properties which could in turn translate to generational wealth.
"The deed of lease entitles the recipients to security of tenure, the right to enjoy property under the Constitution, the right to compensation if the property is required for a public purpose, the right to use the property as collateral if you want to secure a loan to educate your children, to start a business, to invest in agro-processing or to improve or renovate your homes.
"The right to protect the property from squatters and trespassers.
"You have the right to eject any unauthorised persons and remove their shacking and the ability to use the property as a form of savings which leads to generational wealth for your children and children's children.
"This is why I am encouraging all recipients of the certificate of comfort today, to continue the steps to obtain security of tenure, it will be entirely worth it."
Leonce thanked the applicants for their patience and encouraged them to make use of government programmes which would allow them to improve renovate their homes.
He said stronger homes could lead to better communities which would in turn raise the quality of life on a nationwide level.
"When you improve where you live, you are helping us as a government, you are helping the country.
"When the winds blow and your structure is not a resilient structure, it distresses the whole system.
"So what I'm asking you is to seek and get the assistance the government is giving to you freely.
"We have a system and a structure in place for you to improve not just where you live but the community and by extension the country."
Leonce added that the 150 recipients of certificates of comfort were from all walks of life and backgrounds.
During his remarks, CEO of the Land Settlement Agency (LSA) Hazar Hosein said while the process was lengthy it was due partly to the extensive research and investigations needed to determine the title of certain lands.
He also reminded recipients that the certificates were not deeds and should not be used as such.
"Do not attempt to sell your certificate of comfort as some people have attempted to do in the past, that is against the law.
"Do not attempt to transfer your certificate of comfort, you cannot do such a thing, it belongs to you and you alone.
"The certificate of comfort does not define the parcel of land, it does not outline the boundaries, it is an interim measure until the lands are surveyed and approved and then you will move on to the other stage.
"The certificate of comfort is not a licence to grab a piece of your neighbour's land."
Hosein said from July, the LSA will be hosting "open days" across Trinidad where applicants who have not yet received certificates of comfort would be welcome to enquire on the status of their application or what additional paperwork would be needed.