Housing trust won’t evict last old tenants

| 12/10/2015 | 27 Comments
Cayman News Service

Old affordable home in West Bay

(CNS): The National Housing Development Trust (NHDT) has confirmed that it will not evict the tenants that remain in the sub-standard old affordable homes. There are just 21 of the condemned properties left out of 107 houses constructed in 2004, which were not built to code and never received occupancy from the government’s planning department. Most of the remaining homes are in West Bay at Apple Blossom Village, and although the Trust no longer being able to insure or maintain the properties, officials said there were “no plans to evict existing tenants, although none have made any payments for a long time”.

The NHDT is facing a number of challenges but a recent update on its work revealed some notable improvements for the government company, not least a cut in operating costs and an increase in capital from the sale of its more modern homes, making it less dependent on the public purse.

Nevertheless, a major problem remains with the last of the old properties and the people who are living in them. Although the NHDT said there would be no evictions, the homes are in a state of disrepair and the tenants are free to leave voluntarily if they are able to locate better accommodations, officials said. The NHDT and government are looking into addressing these occupants’ housing needs, the Trust said, but things had been further complicated by the insurance provider, who has discontinued coverage because of the deteriorating conditions of the homes.

“Their safety remains a major concern and NHDT is poised to have them transported to safe shelter, should severe weather or a hurricane threatens Grand Cayman,” the Trust’s board said in a report updating the public on the current status of the NHDT and its housing programmes.

The NHDT lost some $10 million as a result of having to demolish and replace the inferior older homes with modern standard compliant houses. Over 90 new houses were built between 2010 and 2013. Of these, 27 have been sold outright, 18 went to new Affordable Housing Initiative clients and nine to old tenants who had lease-to-own or rental arrangements with the original properties. The Trust said that there are 14 vacant houses available for purchase in East End West Bay and Bodden Town and applications for their sale are being accepted and processed.

To date, the Trust has reviewed 240 applications for its homes but in future it will be fine-tuning its process and only constructing new affordable houses based on pre-approvals between it and local banks. However, it does have plans to construct additional homes in the districts where there is a demand for housing.

“We will issue public notices to invite applicants and will conduct an affordable housing survey, which will further assist in determining the needs for each district,” the board added in the report, which was released to the press Thursday, in which it pointed to a number of problems it faces under its current legislation.

“There still remains a need for housing in the community, but this aspect cannot be addressed by the present board, under the existing laws which govern it. This void is where persons are displaced for whatever reasons: retired, low income, subsidized income, widowed, elderly, and handicapped, or presently reside in a condemned old AHI home, and are unable to service any mortgage with a minimum payment,” the board stated.

Offering possible solutions for indigents who are in need of secure accommodation, the Trust suggested redirecting the cash given to the Department of Children and Family Services for rents to develop subsidized accommodation.

Meanwhile, the NHDT’s financial situation has improved as it now has what it described as “a stable balance sheet” and a cash flow of around $2.6 million, which will be used for planned housing projects. The proceeds from the sale of the new houses and existing homes of some $7 million, when realized, will be reinvested.

“There is no intention to rely on the Cayman Islands Government for capital injections for projects as NHDT will utilize its own resources for this purpose,” the board stated.

An impressive reduction in operating costs was also recorded by the Trust, which was attributed to the reduction in maintenance and other costs, such as directors’ fees. For the period August 2009 to June 2013, these were CI$360,000, compared to just CI$28,000 over the last two years.

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Comments (27)

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  1. Bob says:

    I remember, when we used to sit, in a Government yard in West Bay.

  2. Anonymous says:

    everything is so messed up I don’t know where to begin
    the tenants are worthless creatures
    giving away a free home is disgusting
    not able to upkeep a free home is disgusting
    without a CO how where they able to get electricity service
    without a CO how did they move in
    who built these shit homes ? how bad can they really be ?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why does the NHDT keep building single-dwelling homes for those in financial need? The upkeep on a home, regardless of how well or how poorly it is built, is going to be sizable, and I don’t think it is something that should be expected of people who are struggling financially. It would be far more economical and manageable in the long-term to develop low-density community settings with a couple of 3-storey apartment complexes that could perhaps accommodate no more than 12 apartments each. Include a proper park and laundry facility, and have it maintained by the Public Works Department. Space them out throughout the island so that crowding does not become an issue..

    • Anonymous says:

      either way is a recipe for a slum…..

    • Anonymous says:

      The NHDT remit is to build houses to SELL to persons who cannot achieve this in the normal method. The house will belong to the owner. Upkeep & maintenance will be their responsibility. Just like you & I. What you are talking about will require you to pay more taxes. Still interested?

  4. The Ungraspable Argument says:

    The tenants are saying the housing is substandard and indeed it is jaw-droppingly sub-standard. The houses are uninsurable, unmortgageable and unsaleable. There are no laws granting any rights to the tenants to stay and in any event, if there were, the tenants would be in breach of the leases/tenancy agreements* for failure to pay rent, even at the massively subsidized levels and correct me if I am wrong but the rents are startlingly low compared to the private sector.

    *(assuming that process was properly followed and the government has some form of written lease/tenancy agreements with the tenants)

    Government wants to replace the houses with better houses, which would satisfy the tenant’s complaints, so this is a non-issue. New rents could still be massively subsidized, if the government wished (i.e. the Caymanian people, as it is they who vote for the government and to whom the government is accountable).

    So, what’s the problem? There are no victims here, just stubborn people. Get the tenants out. Knock the houses down. Build better, insurable replacements which the tenants can again rent or, if they want, buy. Kent Rankin was able to get rid of his squatters in town. The government is not compelled to have fewer rights and powers than a private individual…are they? Kent Rankin has more power than government, does he?

    So it seems that there is a failure to grasp the argument. A failure to act in a timely fashion. A failure to follow the law (as it seems there is none granting the tenants rights, so the government are able to do what they want, aren’t they?) Failure to do anything, it seems.

    As an aside, if the government were to want to build a road through this development, they could serve a notice under the Roads Law. Take pretty much immediate possession and the tenants would be due no compensation, save their reasonable moving costs.

    Looks again like pathetic derogation of duty, complete abdication and denial of responsibility and another ponderously slow, hang-wringing, time-wasting, rule and process-ignoring, dysfunctional, embarrassing scandal without any intent or conviction to act and pandering to a small minority without any logical reason to do so. Behaving like this in most institutions (imagine in the US) would result in you being fired. And humiliated. And possibly sued.

    If only Cayman had a Caymanian John Oliver. So much rich material.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Who’s responsible for the building of these illegal home. Who’s project was it, and will there be any repercussions for wasting money on this joke?
    Who to hell is even running this country ( or what ever it is)??

  6. Anonymous says:

    So someone built 107 houses that were not up to code and uninhabitable even when they were new?? And now they’re barely 10 years old and have to be demolished? Who? Who was the contractor? Who was responsible for the oversight? How much were they given to build them and where did it go? How many people were prosecuted?

    Let me guess….all the money disappeared and nobody was held responsible. And a bunch of well connected Caymanians made money at the expense of literally the poorest most desperate people in the community. Oh but things are much better now. Nothing like that will happen again.

    This place is a disgrace.

    • Liverpool says:

      like l said follow the money to find out exactly who benefited fom this housing scam!

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s the elephant in the room, as usual. This was in all probability run as a scam and somebody made off with a pile of CIG money. But we talk about it like it’s just one of those things. There is no will to find out the truth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who granted Certificate of Occupancy?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Another fine mess Stanley…

  8. Knot S Smart says:

    What we are seeing is a ‘Kind-er, Gentle-r, PPM’…

    • Liverpool says:

      yes victimized!these people have been “Had” thats victimization!
      follow the money. Who beneited from the scam?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why is the failure to collect rent not a breach of trust by the trustees of the trust?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hello, this government has broken so many agreements they have lost count.

      • Anonymous says:

        Indeed 12.07, I cant help pondering if CIG is going to ask Russia to take over Cayman. Certainly breaching all agreements locally and internationally is their forte and I think CIG has done a pretty good job of emulating that.

    • Anonymous says:

      We have a slam-dunk case against the Trustees for breach of trust. They should be sent the bill, and then see how fast they live up to their responsibilities.

    • Anonymous says:

      More like, how can a landlord collect rent on a sub-standard home not certified for human occupancy? There could not have been a binding lease agreement to enforce on either side. Another cocktail napkin agreement with the forever honorable. The ACC and Planning Dept turned a blind eye to this for over a decade? Great.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Can someone please clarify what exactly can a security deposit used for?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Do tenant protection laws exist in Cayman?

    • Judge Watchya says:

      looks like these victimized tenants were aware of their unspoken tenants rights to housing that is suitable and tenable which is not. so in their case therefore they were rightfully withholding payments for living under dis paraging conditions.govt must do a landlord tenant bill similar to the Us it protects everyone .Why is there not an attorney representing . these victims in a class action lawsuit gainst govt?again the people are suffering at the hands of govt l hope the condescending rich elites are the losers this time. round;they been winning too often for too long.

    • Still bitter says:

      No, because Caymanian landlords want to reserve the right to do whatever they want to expats after the next hurricane, like they did after Ivan.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Question: In most lease agreements it states that if you are on a work permit and you can show proof your permit was not renewed or denied then the landlord will refund your deposit. So if a Caymanian´s job was made redundant and he/she can no longer afford the rent and would like to leave why aren´t they afforded the same refund policy?

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