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Cayman Islands - Renting Property
The Cayman Islands also receives about two million tourists each year. Whilst many of them stay in hotels, others prefer to rent independent self-catering accommodation. Short-term holiday lets are most expensive during the busy winter months, when the weather is warm but not too hot.
Be aware that the Cayman Islands is not a territory offering property at a bargain price. Furthermore, some locations are much more expensive than the local average, especially if you want to be close to work and good schools or to have a lovely view of the ocean. You may have to compromise between space, facilities and location to find a rental home within your budget.
The good news is that property in the Cayman Islands comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether you select a small apartment, family home or mansion by the sea will depend on your financial resources and wish list.
If your employer isn’t arranging a rental property for you and you don’t have existing contacts in the Cayman Islands, using an estate agency is the best option. The landlord pays the estate agency a fee to find a tenant, so no charge is made to the tenant for finding a property.
The estate agent normally has a website showing properties available, with a range of pictures. The rent will be clearly displayed on screen. Even if the property is not listed online, perhaps because it is new to the market, the estate agent should give you the rental cost in some form of written or electronic document.
You need to be aware of additional costs, which will normally be clearly specified on the estate agency details. If not, do ask about them.
For example, if it is a strata property – that is, a building that has been divided into ‘lots’ – there will be fees to pay. Apartments in blocks require maintenance of the building structure, communal areas, and any outside areas including swimming pools, driveways, gardens and play areas. Any pest infestation or leaks will be dealt with by the building management team, who are funded by the strata fees. These people are normally a set fee paid quarterly in advance, which can be quite a lump sum to find.
Your landlord will probably add strata fees to the monthly rent and pay them over to the management company, but you need to confirm in writing that this is the case. Otherwise, you risk moving in and then discovering you have unexpected charges to pay.
The benefits of strata management while you rent a property are enormous. You don’t have to worry about checking the condition of the building or trying to source specialists when something goes wrong. Even the grass will be cut with no effort on your part.
Avoiding Property Scams
Unfortunately, people seeking rental properties in the Cayman Islands are increasingly being targeted by online scammers, and can lose thousands of dollars. Be aware of this so you don’t become the next victim.
Criminals have been listing attractive properties with a surprisingly low level of rent, with all utilities included. They wait for potential tenants to ask for further details, and then start a persuasive discussion by email about why the property is being offered so cheaply. Next, they suggest the property can be reserved via Airbnb, by wiring funds to what is actually an overseas third-party bank account.
Once the money is paid, all contact with the victim will cease and they slowly realise they have been scammed. By the time they contact their bank and enquiries are made, the money has been withdrawn from the overseas account. The banks do not refund the lost money, and it is often difficult to make a formal complaint about the bank which allowed a criminal to open an account.
You can only be assured that your property listing is genuine if you visit in person before handing over any money. If you are worried about missing out on the deal of a lifetime, it was probably too good to be true anyway.
If there are any problems about getting access to the property, or you are asked to pay any sort of fee to view it, walk away.
Using a reputable estate agent will ensure you avoid with these scams.
Never Pay Anyone In Cash For Your Rental Property
Although the estate agent will not ask you to pay a fee for finding the property, there are a number of costs you will need to pay up front before moving in. These may be direct to the landlord or via the estate agent.
At least one month’s rent must be paid in advance. In addition, you will have to pay a security bond, which again will be the equivalent of at least a month’s rent.
Never pay these sums in cash, as you must have evidence of payment should any legal dispute occur. The same applies to the rent each month.
Sign A Rental Contract
You and your landlord should sign a rental contract on the same day you make your advance rent payment and pay the security bond.
As a bare minimum, it must contain your personal details and the landlord’s name and address. The period of rental must be clearly specified, with the address to be rented. Importantly, the monthly rent and any additional charges must be clearly stated.
It is advisable to have a break clause in the contract. Expats can be called home at short notice for sick relatives, company transfers and other unexpected events. A break clause would allow you to leave with only, say, three months rental payment due, rather than being contractually bound to continue payments right to the end of the rental period.
Check The Inventory And Take Photos
On the day you move in, carefully check the inventory list. Even an unfurnished property, if you have chosen one, will have a number of fixtures and fittings to be listed. A furnished property could have several pages of contents, and anything missing at the end of your tenancy may legally be taken out of your security bond. Arguing later that an item was never present is usually futile. So if something on the inventory list is missing or broken, alert the estate agent or landlord immediately.
Take a lot of photos of the property and its contents. In particular, take close ups of damage or signs of wear and tear. Mobile phones now take clear pictures which can be backed up into cloud storage for access if you need them. The photos should prevent any problems at the end of the tenancy, such as if the landlord tries to charge you for a pre-existing problem.
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