Market Update March 2013


As published in the Caymanian Compass – 6th March, 2013

Strata reform
The Law Reform Commission has recently submitted for public consultation proposed legislation regarding the reform of Cayman’s Strata laws, entitled: The Strata Titles Bill, 2013. This Bill has been written following extensive consultation not only with the real estate and construction industries but other concerned entities, such as The Water Authority and the Cayman Islands Bankers’ Association as well as legal consultation. The Bill now contains provision for a wide range of Strata-related issues, such as the regulation of leasehold and vacant land Stratas, the protection of purchasers and the termination of stratas, the resolution of disputes, multi-strata environments and phased stratas.
More specifically, it includes changes to the law to ensure that Strata Lots now include external features such as parking areas, gardens, garages, etc. It provides a clearer definition of the term “common property” as well as “proprietor” and it also includes a new definition – “developer”. New regulations have been written to deal with issues such as mixed Strata buildings (whereby part of the building may be under a Strata and part might be under another Strata or no Strata at all). The requirement of audited Strata accounts is also dealt with as is the leasing of Strata lots. Another important addition to the Law is the regulation of phased development of Strata schemes which helps with providing for the development of large schemes over a period of time. Better protection for the purchaser by way of improved disclosure requirements has also been proposed in this new Bill. In addition, how to vary or terminate a Strata is covered by the proposed legislation, in particular, in the case where a building has to be destroyed.

It is fair to say that a tremendous amount of effort has been put into modernising and updating Cayman’s Strata Laws and it is important that we in the industry and you as a Strata owner are familiar with these enhancements as they should make the operation of a Strata far more straightforward once the Bill becomes law.

ForCayman Alliance forging ahead
The Cayman Islands is forging ahead with one important infrastructure project right now, with the ForCayman Alliance making sound progress on the upgrade to the Esterley Tibbetts bypass extension, as well as the dismantling of the old Courtyard Marriott hotel, preparing it for demolition to make way for a brand new hotel instead. It has been pleasing to note that the project managers have ensured that the process of reducing the old hotel building down to its bare bones has been done in an environmentally friendly manner, ensuring that materials from trees to metal and glass can be either reused or recycled. This staged approach to the demolition has had the added benefit of creating much-needed work for Cayman’s construction companies that have been so hard hit since the economic downturn.

As discussed before, once the new bypass road is in operation, access to West Bay and areas along the way such as the Yacht Club, Salt Creek and the Highlands will improve. This will mean price appreciation for properties within these locations and throughout West Bay. As they say, “location, location, location” is key in establishing property values, improved access essentially means that the “location” of West Bay becomes much more desirable and property values will increase at a fast pace. Coupled with the fact that there is little inventory available in some of these areas, a price rise is inevitable.  

RICS conference highlights important issues
It is excellent to see that Cayman has recently formed its own RICS Chapter. RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) provides the “gold seal” of service quality and has quickly set the benchmark for the construction and real estate industry not just in the UK but globally as well and was launched at a conference marking the occasion last month. It was interesting to note that organisers said the Cayman RICS conference was better attended than their most recent one in the United States! Our beautiful weather here in the Cayman Islands no doubt must have had something to do with it.  

More to follow in my April Update, which will feature a new and improved look to our regular bulletins.
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