The BVI (British Virgin Islands) Ministry of the Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change (the Ministry) adopted new Non-Belonger Landholder Licensing process rules. Automatic rental permission is one of several welcome policy changes. The updated procedures—Policy No. 1 of 2023—were scheduled to be effective on 18 December 2023, with the caveat that it is subject to change to accommodate legislative amendments and market conditions.
The new rules include built-in rental approval subject to obtaining a trade licence and fixed timelines for processing applications once they are submitted. In addition, the standard period for the development commitment for residential property developments has been increased from three to five years, with the possibility of an additional two-year extension.
The policy formalises the requirement for registration on the Ministry website for advertisement purposes, which was instituted in September 2022. The new policy also introduces rental fees, a fee to amend a licence (other than extending the development commitment, which has its own fee), and fees for extending the time for registering the licence. While the increases in application fees are modest, potential homebuyers should pay attention to the new amounts as set out below:
- Applications by Individuals – increased from $200 to $500
- Applications by Companies – increased from $500 to $1,500
- Individual extension of development commitment – increased from $100 to $200
- Company extension of development commitment – increased from $300 to $500
In addition, the policy formalises the minimum development commitment of $350,000.00.
O’Neal Webster’s considered advice is to follow the procedures and conditions set out in Policy No. 1 of 2023. But do not be surprised if new legislation in the next three to five years makes further refinements or adjustments.
This policy reflects the market’s needs with extended time limits for completing the development commitment and automatic rental permission within licences. It is important to note that a trade licence will still be required for rental, even if you rent through a licensed agent.
A schedule of penalties has been issued, bringing clarity to a previously uncertain area where the dollar amount of penalties was entirely within the discretion of the Cabinet.