Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon Carvin Malone (AL) announced yesterday, Wednesday, September 16, 2020, that during contact tracing activities, the Public Health team uncovered an over-crowded commercial property on Wickham's Cay that has seemingly been unlawfully converted into residential use.
“All the occupants of that property have been placed under quarantine, tested, and will be required to undergo follow up testing after 14 days,” he said.
Hon Malone continued, “I would like to sound a warning to all property owners who may be tempted to violate the laws of the Virgin Islands and disregard people’s basic human rights to safe, sanitary and decent living conditions. Cease and desist or suffer the consequences of the law.”
Owner of Bettito Frett Building, Mr Bettito Frett, has said he is not in violation of the laws for housing persons in his property on Wickham's Cay and noted that occupants of the building included expatriates, Belongers and Virgin Islanders.
Now, the building owner Mr Betitto Frett in a letter seen by Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) has fired back, claiming he is not in violation for having people living in the building.
Mr Frett said the user clause, his lease states, "Throughout the said term to use the Demised Unit and every part thereof only for the purpose of shopping, services, catering, amusements, offices, residential facilities and for the purpose of operations in connection with yacht chartering and the provision of marina facilities which may include overnight accommodation, restaurant, bar chandlery sales, provision shop, showers, toilets, laundry, ice sales vending machine, bottled gas, and fuel stores, bulk fuel storage and fuel pumps and all other amenities related to marina facilities or such other purpose as may be approved in writing from time to time by the Lessor such approval not to be unreasonably withheld".
“Therefore, I am not in violation of my lease to have people living on my property,” Mr Frett said in the written response.
The building owner said the property is a four-storey building with shops and offices on the ground floor. The second floor is designed to have 20 rooms and the 3rd and 4th floors have 17 rooms each, thereby creating a total of 54 rooms, 8 of which are suites and a capacity to hold 116 persons.
“I do not have 116 persons on the property right now hence, it is unfair to say that the property is overcrowded,” he said.
He said currently, the occupants of the building were expatriates, Virgin Islanders and Belongers.
“Some of whom cannot even afford to pay me my monthly rent of $300.00 including beds, lining, electricity, water, internet, cleaning services, air-condition, TV, central lounge and laundry facility. I even have homeless BVIslanders living on the premises and I have not been collecting rent from them and still, I have to feed them.”
Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon Carvin Malone (AL) announced yesterday, Wednesday, September 16, 2020, that during contact tracing activities, the Public Health team has uncovered an over-crowded commercial property on Wickhams Cay that has seemingly been unlawfully converted into residential use.
The building owner went on to allege, “The Honourable Mark H. Vanterpool, Representative of the 4th District, can attest to that. The Government has a responsibility to assist these less fortunate and failed to do so and now they have become a burden on me. “
He said that while he has no issues if the government wants to shut down the building, there is an obligation for the administration to find suitable and affordable accommodation for the occupants.
“I have written to the Honourable Premier, His Excellency the Governor, the Deputy Governor on many occasions and I have filed a complaint with the Financial Services Commission several months ago in getting them to intervene in the return of under a Million Dollars of my insurance monies held by the bank, so that, I could finish the building but to no avail. “
He said currently there is an injunction against the bank from selling the property pending a court decision.
Now, the Building owner Mr Betitto Frett in a letter seen by Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) has fired back, claiming that he is not in violation for have people living in the building.
The building owner said the property is a four-storey building with shops and offices on the ground floor, the second floor is designed to have 20 rooms and the 3rd and 4th floor has 17 rooms each thereby creating a total of 54 rooms 8 of which are suites and a capacity to hold 116 persons.