Public Works Minister Craig Cannonier confirmed on Friday that the tenants housed at Nine Beaches are currently living rent free at Daniel’s Head.

Responding to Parliamentary Questions by Opposition MP Dennis Lister, the Minister said IRC Sandys Limited should not have rented the tourist units in the first place.

The tenants in question are now fighting plans by the Bermuda Land Development Corporation (BLDC) to evict them.

Mr Lister wanted to know who was currently collecting rent for the beach front units – IRC Sandys or BLDC.

“No rent is being paid to BLDC, there is nothing in place for them to collect rent. And IRC Sandys should not have rented them out,” said Mr Cannonier.

“The tenants are not paying rent at this moment. They (IRC Sandys) had no right to rent it out in the first place.”

Earlier this year the Minister told his parliamentary colleagues that IRC Sandys owes the Bermuda Government $2.283 million in rental arrears.

He also recalled the court judgement handed down in December ordering IRC Sandys to vacate the west end premises.

Asked for an update on plans to settle the outstanding debt, the Minister repeated what he said in February. Essentially he said BLDC was still seeking a payment schedule from IRC.

As for the current balance with the 7% interest accrued, he agreed with Acting Opposition Leader David Burt’s request to report back to the House next week. He noted however, that the principle balance is the same. The last payment was made by IRC was made in 2008.

Responding to questions by Opposition Leader Marc Bean in February, Mr Cannonier also acknowledged that one of the principals behind is Bermuda Tourism Authority Chairman David Dodwell, who has a less than one percent holding in IRC Sandys Limited.

The deteriorating beach front property was leased to IRC six years ago with plans for a $80 million overhaul. Now that the courts have ordered IRC to vacate the premises, BLDC is seeking to evict the tenants to move forward with plans to put the property on the market “as soon as possible”.

Once the Vacant Possession Order has been obtained, BLDC will give the occupants two months’ notice to vacate the premises.

In the interim however, the tenants residing at Nine Beaches are living rent free at Daniel’s Head.

By Ceola Wilson