An investment company has been ordered to pay almost $3 million in outstanding rent and interest to the Airports Authority for a parcel of land it leased to build a hotel near the Piarco International Airport.
High Court Judge Frank Seepersad yesterday granted a default judgement to the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago against Bel Air Investments Limited.
Guardian Media understands that the company registered an appearance after the State authority filed its lawsuit to recover the rental arrears but it subsequently failed to file a defence leading to the default win for the authority.
The lawsuit centred around a 50-year lease agreement signed by the parties for a 5.72-hectare parcel of land.
The company agreed to pay $210,000 in rent annually for the first three years while it was constructing a proposed four diamond-rated hotel, with the figure doubling for the remainder of the lease.
The hotel was not constructed as planned and the company failed to pay rent from October 2011 to October 2016.
In December 2016, the authority commenced forfeiture proceedings against the company and retook control of the property without opposition. Through the lawsuit, the authority was seeking to recoup $2.4 million, which represents the full unpaid rent for five years.
It was also seeking to get the company to pay for the short period that it remained in control of the property before it was recovered. As per the terms of the lease, the authority also sought interest on the arrears, calculated using the current basic prime rate used by local financial institutions.
In addition to paying the compensation, the company was also ordered to pay the authority’s legal costs for bringing the lawsuit.
The authority was represented by Nigel Greaves.