If you are a Cook Islander or of Cook Islands descent we may be able to assist you with various land related matters and legal issues. Generally, only Cook Islanders (including persons of Cook Islands descent) or Permanent Residents are able to own interests in land in the Cook Islands. Below are some of the areas where we may be able to assist.
Most freehold land in the Cook Islands is owned by Cook Islands families. When a parent who is a landowner dies his or her child or children are entitled to succeed to the parent's interest in their land.
This requires a formal application to the High Court. We can assist you with identifying the relevant land interests of your parent and ensuring you succeed these interests as a landowner.
A leasehold interest is one of the most common forms of ownership where the underlying freehold may be owned by dozens or even hundreds of family landowners. It is also possible to use leases as security for bank lending.
Even if you or your family are not landowners, as a Cook Islander you may still own a leasehold interest in someone else's land. Leases are regularly sold (including by banks as mortgagee) and we can assist you with acquiring a leasehold interest.
It is possible for the Court to make orders of exchange where certain conditions are met. These are orders where an interest in freehold land is exchanged for a freehold interest in other land.
Exchange orders may be obtained where, for example, families may be owners on different parcels of land. Whereas an interest in land may be partioned in a single parcel of land, an exchange order is required where families wish to exchange with each other their respective interests in different parcels of land.
Where land is leased rent will usually be payable to the landowners. If the person leasing is a landowner or related to a landowner the rental is usually a nominal amount or 'peppercorn' rental. However, if the lease has been sold outside the family then rent may be payable at market rates or some other commercial basis.
Whether you are a landowner or leasing land, we can assist by advising you on any rent reviews which may be due and how to complete these.
With much land in the Cook Islands owned in common by dozens or even hundreds of landowners, the partitioning of land allows for land to be taken out of common ownership and allocated to you based on your share.
Depending on the size of the land, the number of owners, and your respective share, land can be partitioned to a sole person or a group of people such as a family of siblings. We can assist in advising you whether partitioning will be suited to you and guiding you through the process.
An occupation right is another form of land ownership. It is a licence that gives the owner of the right exclusive possession of a parcel of land as against the owners of the freehold title.
Recent judicial determination has put occupation rights into a grey area and at odds with what many people believe they mean. If you are interested in an occupation right or currently have one, we suggest you call us to discuss further.