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Family claims Lands Department sold 20 acres of land they own

We have reported on many stories involving land scandals and problems. Tonight, there is one more story to report in which a family claims that their land has been resold to another person without their knowledge or consent. Alberto Vernon visited our studios late Thursday and told us that only last week, his family learnt that twenty acres of land they owned, or at least thought they did, situated west of the Northern Highway near mile 14 in the Belize District, had been sold. To their surprise, that land had been sold back in the mid-nineties. Vernon says the property had been passed down to his mother and they have documents to prove ownership. But, he was also presented with documents that show who is the new owner of the land, documents he has been told came from the Lands Department. The situation has placed Vernon in a predicament since, after his family surveyed the land and had it subdivided, the family shared the land among themselves. Vernon says that he later sold his piece of land and that’s when he learnt that the land was not in his family’s name. Here is his story.

Alberto Vernon: “My dad is William P Vernon. He acquired twenty acres of crown land at mile 14.5 on the Northern Highway in 1952 and he had paid all taxes and before he died he made a will out to my mom and in 1990 my mom along with the help of my sister and myself we put money together to subdivide the 20 acres of land and then after we subdivided it we shared it amongst the family. I had a property on Mayflower Street that I exchanged for one of the acres to my brother and I sold it last year just to find out a week ago that the person I sold it to is telling me that they gave him a report that the land is overlapping. I said I don’t know what overlapping means and he showed me the report. The report showed that my grandfather’s land that was handed down to my mom in 1990 was granted a Minister Fiat to Raymond Cattouse Jr. and he in turn in 1994 sold it to some Arab Said or something I don’t know what’s his name but this guy died already too.”

Reporter: Where did this individual get this report that you’re talking about ?

Alberto Vernon: “From lands department, from the lands department.”

Reporter: and he or she got it last week?

Alberto Vernon: “Last week and they gave it to me on Friday last week and I signed a document stating that I would do my best to get back his cash.”

Reporter: Was your family, your mother yourself anybody aware that these 20 acres had been sold?

Alberto Vernon: “No because we were granted all of our documents, we even got our final letter of approval and just to hear they can’t find our final letter .Well I’m going to tell you something I’m going to search and get it because my mom had this final letter of approval and we got these things from Titles Unit in Belmopan. I did a conveyance in Title’s Unit in Belmopan where I paid my $500, the same land that I sold to this guy I paid $500 for conveyance there in Belmopan. We tried to get a lawyer they want some money to do the consultation and they said that it is completely legal, the one person that saw the document- I didn’t have the money to pay the lawyer to do the work but he saw it and said it’s ridiculous.”

We made several attempts to contact the Lands Commissioner on the matter but we were unable to reach his office. We’ll keep following the story.