Negligence and the Cost of Delays

July 6, 2016

How many of you have experienced a situation, where you have to wait for years to get the transfer of property shares done under mortgage or simply getting documents discharged from the financial institution.

Many consumers have been left frustrated as some financial service- providers drag their feet when it comes to delivering service on time. It seems financial service providers fail to realise that time is money and the ordinary consumers are paying a price for their delays.

John is one such unfortunate consumer who has been given a run-around by a financial institution (Housing Authority of Fiji) when he sought their assistance to access home loan.

In John’s case, he and his wife, Daisy were all excited after receiving a nod from John’s parents that they could build their dream  home on a piece of land which they owned. Of course, the first step for this young couple was to secure a loan.

In early 2013, the couple approached the financial institution for a home loan to proceed with the construction of their new home. They were correctly advised to first have the property transferred to their names to avoid problems once the home is built on this land.

His parents happily issued consent to transfer property shares with a mortgage balance of $4,492, to John and his wife. In the process of assessing the loan application, it was found that the title for the said piece of land could not be located at the Office of the Registrar of Titles nor at the financial institution (Housing Authority of Fiji).

After patiently waiting for three years, a disappointed John sought assistance from the Council, expressing his concern over the on-going delays caused by the financial institution in processing the transfer of the shares so that their loan application can be processed. One can understand John’s frustration. According to him, if the property title was in order, his new home would have been ready by now.

The Council wrote to the financial institution   asking them to explain the reasons for the delay. The financial institution responded by saying that they intend to complete the registration for the transfer of the property (land) before end of this month (May 2016).  What may sound puzzling is the recent confirmation by the Office of the Registrar of Titles that the documents lodged in 2006 by John’s parents were never registered.  The Titles Office further confirmed that the transfer of the property from the initial owner to John’s parents was endorsed by the Registrar of Titles but later crossed off.

This crucial finding raises some serious questions about how John’s parents could access loan from the financial institution without being the official owner of that land. 

The crux of the matter is that the Title of the land in question did not exist at all and yet John’s parents succeeded in obtaining a loan. This could have been an administrative-oversight which only came to light after John’s loan application was processed by the same financial institution.

With Council’s intervention, the financial institution has now carried out an internal transfer of the shares to John and his wife. 

There is much to learn from this case.  Like John has been caught up in a long wait not knowing the actual reasons for the delays.

It is extremely important that consumers keep official documents such as a copy of the land title and other loan related documents in a separate folder. It is often seen that important documents are not kept safely.

The Council encourages consumers to be assertive and raise alarm if they experience such a long waiting time. Consumers should lodge their complaint against such institutions which loses such crucial documents or take unreasonable time to deliver services. Ultimately, the ordinary consumers pay for the delays – in form of loss of money, time and peace of mind. Complaints can be filed with the Council or the Reserve Bank of Fiji.