The Deputy British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Laura Davies, notes that Sri Lanka’s property laws are complex and difficult to navigate, especially for foreigners.
She said this in a blog posting after a visit to Galle where she spent time with a few of the 5,000 long term British residents in Sri Lanka.
Particularly on the South Coast, many are involved in tourism, running small hotels and guest villas that keep Sri Lanka’s tourism figures booming and spread its economic dividends deep into the community.
“But Sri Lanka’s property laws are complex and difficult to navigate, especially for foreigners. We can’t offer legal advice, but we can – and did on Friday – set up opportunities for British nationals to speak to legal experts. If you are a British national thinking of buying property in Sri Lanka, please make sure you take independent legal advice and engage a lawyer to act on your behalf. A list of local lawyers can be found on the High Commission website,” she said.
While in the Galle, Davies also visited a small project the High Commission has supported for some years, the Manacare Hopes and Dreams village.
Run by British long term resident Joy Butler, the Manacare centre spreads not just economic benefits, but also social and medical support into a poor community. Set up in the immediate aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, the project has provided employment for a devastated village, and stability and security for traumatised individuals.
“Its backbone is very small scale manufacturing, mostly of handmade soap and table linen. Brilliantly, the products are mostly destined for the hotel industry, a demonstration of the trickle down benefits of tourism.The centre also provides physiotherapy and hydrotherapy for the severely disabled, including many who suffer from cerebral palsy, as well as child care which lets women get back into employment, and activities to give young people a positive social focus. It increasingly offers residential basic job skills training too, to disadvantaged women from across the island,” Davies said.
She said that her visit reminded her of the great breadth of the UK – Sri Lanka relationship, fuelled by the richness of the people to people links.