Saturday, 12 July 2014

Responsibilities of Landlords & Tenants in Trinidad and Tobago

This is another area of law that generates a lot of questions, so here are some of the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants in Trinidad and Tobago.

Tenants obligations:
  • Pay rent in full and on time
  • Make sure the house or apartment is used mainly for living purposes
  • Keep the property in good order (except for normal wear and tear)
  • Inform the landlord if repairs are needed and give the landlord access to the property to carry out repairs
  • Give the landlord access (by appointment) for routine inspections
  • Inform the landlord of who is living in the property
  • Not to cause disturbance, nuisance or annoyance to neighbours and not to allow visitors to do so. These actions include, but are not limited to:
o   persistent, excessive noise;
o   verbal or physical abuse of neighbours;
o   racial or sexual harassment;
o   vandalism in the neighbourhood or damaging neighbours' property
o   drug use or selling drugs.
  • Comply with any special terms in the tenancy agreement, verbal or written
  • To give the landlord written notice when you wish to end the tenancy
  • Not carrying out alterations to the property without the landlord’s permission

Tenants rights:
  • Make emergency repairs, which are the responsibility of the landlord, and deduct it from the next month’s rent (receipts MUST be shown)
  • Break the lease and move out immediately if the dwelling is no longer habitable and the living conditions are unbearable. This can be considered a “constructive eviction” and in extreme cases, can be actionable.



Landlords obligations:
  • Make sure that the property meets minimum standards of health and safety (lighting, water, sanitation, ventilation, etc.)
  • Repair and maintain the interior and structure of the property to the standard it was in at the start of the tenancy
  • Repair and maintain the structure of the property
  • Reimburse tenants for any repairs they carry out which are the responsibility of the landlord
  • Ensure the tenant knows how to contact you (or your agent)
  • Give tenants at least a month’s notice for rent increases
  • Provide tenants with a valid notice of termination (in writing) if terminating the tenancy.
  • To follow the correct legal procedures if they want you to leave (illegal evictions can result in litigation)
  • Return deposits to the tenants (unless they have not paid the rent or have damaged the dwelling)

Landlord rights
  • Enter the premises with the tenant’s permission (usually you have to give 48 hours’ notice) OR without permission if there is an emergency
  • Give eviction notice at any time




REPAIRS
Landlord repairing responsibilities:
  • the structure and exterior of the property, including exterior paintwork, drains, gutters and external pipes;
  • the interior of the property other than matters covered under tenant responsibilities (see below);
  • any installations for the supply and use of water, gas, electricity and sanitation (including baths, sinks, wash-hand basins and toilets);
  • any appliances provided by the landlord under the tenancy for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity;
  • any fixtures, fittings and furnishings provided by the landlord under the terms of the tenancy;
  • keeping in good repair any common areas or areas required for access;

Tenant repairing responsibilities:
  • making good any damage to the property caused by the behaviour or negligence of the tenant, members of his/her household or any other person lawfully visiting or living in the property
  • keeping the interior of the property in reasonable decorative order

Friday, 11 July 2014

Trinidad and Tobago National Insurance Scheme (NIS): Rights and Obligations

Q: After receiving numerous questions on the rights of employees and the obligations of employers under this topic, here's the info.


A: This area of law is governed by the National Insurance Act 1971, as amended.

N.I.S. CONTRIBUTIONS
Contributions are fixed weekly payments in relation to the wages/salaries of the employee (see table at the end). Payment of the contribution is shared between the employer and employee according to the rate set out in the Act. However, the EMPLOYER is responsible for paying the total contribution to the NIBTT.

The contributions for all employees (including paid apprentices, domestics and casual agricultural workers) and unpaid apprentices, are due from the start of their employment, apprenticeship or probationary period. This means that N.I.S. MUST be taken out from the first payment. 

s.40 – There is a $4000 fine and six (6) months in prison if the employer does not pay the contributions.



REGISTRATION
s.30(1)(a)  - EMPLOYER must apply for registration as employer within 14 days

How to Apply For Registration as an Employer
In order to register, an employer must complete the N.I. 1 Application form. All fields should be completed, but the following are mandatory:

  • Name of Business or Company
  • Address of Business or Company
  • Mailing address
  • Name, Title and Home Address of Owners/Partners/Directors, and Date of Ownership
  • Address where pay records are kept
  • Address where personnel records are kept
  • Nature of Business
  • Number of Employees/Unpaid Apprentices
  • Date Business Started
  • Date of hiring first employee
  • Authorized Signature/Designation and Date of Application 

s.30(1)(b) - New employer must apply for employee’s N.I.S. number after hiring the first employee.

s.30(2) – Within seven (7) days, the EMPLOYEE must provide the necessary details to allow the EMPLOYER to apply.

s.30(3) – The employer must also inform the employee within twenty-one (21) days of employment whether or not they have fulfilled their obligation in 1(a) and (b)


Who Must Be Registered?
Any employee who earns $180 or more per week. This includes a married woman employed by her husband. The contract of employment may be written or oral, expressed or implied. The apprenticeship may be paid or unpaid.

  • Anyone employed in a professional capacity on a full-time basis, for which a salary is paid. This includes a Doctor at a hospital, a Priest, Pastor or Nun etc. who receive a salary of $180 per week or more.
  • Anyone employed as a share fisherman or taxi driver or travelling salesman etc., where a contract allows for payment to be made on a share of earnings or profits.
  • Anyone employed temporarily with a firm, business organization, government department or statutory body (e.g. student during vacation period, seasonal employment (i.e., Carnival).
  • Persons paid based on commissions on sales, eg., Insurance agents or car salesmen who work on a full time basis and are paid by commission on sales.
  • Foreign employees engaged in work in Trinidad & Tobago on a contract basis, or on work permits. 

The exemptions of employees under s.29(2) are those earning less than $180/week and non-citizens.


PENALTIES:
s.30(6) – There is a $5000 fine for non-compliance with registration.

s.5(2) – Records of the employee and all contributions must be kept for seven (7) years. If this is not done, the penalty is a $5000 fine and three (3) months in prison.


MULTIPLE EMPLOYMENT
s.45 - Where an employee has multiple employment, all employers must pay contributions on behalf of the employee.


REFUND FOR OVER-PAYMENT
s.16(3) – If the yearly total of the N.I.S. contribution is more than required, employees are entitled to a refund, but this is only done by request using the N.I. 79 Form.



Saturday, 5 July 2014

The ELPIS Centre: Healthy Respect Camp

If you're still looking for an activity to occupy your child's/children's time this summer, here's the perfect option! 5 Saturdays from July 26th - August 23rd, 2014

Join them in their quest to make Trinidad and Tobago better!