US consultants working on draft housing policy

| 17/06/2024 | 38 Comments

(CNS): Public Works LLC, the US-based consultants contracted by the UPM government to draft the Cayman Islands’ first housing policy, has begun work on that document, according to ministry officials. Since winning the CI$276,750 contract last October, the consultants have carried out a public consultation, including an online survey, and met with stakeholders and focus groups. According to the Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing, Infrastructure, Transport and Development (PAHITD), the feedback gathered during the last few five months will be taken into consideration.

Once the policy is drafted, it will be presented to the Cabinet for review. The consultants will then conduct a public presentation of the final policy and plan.

The government’s attempts to resolve the significant housing crisis in the Cayman Islands began during the PACT administration after a cross-ministerial task force was established to examine the issues and come up with resolutions. So far very little has been done to address the myriad problems the shortage of affordable property is causing.

Over the last decade, development on Grand Cayman has focused almost exclusively on high-end luxury accommodation, largely to appeal to the luxury tourism business or wealthy individuals wanting to use property here to bank their money. This has not only been detrimental to the environment, but has also priced many local residents out of the housing market.

At the same time, many local property owners have removed their rental units from the long-term domestic market and switched to the more lucrative business of renting to visitors through platforms like Airbnb, resulting a massive drop in available long-term rental accommodation and pushing up prices to unprecedented level.

This has happened just as the population reaches historic highs, fuelled largely by low-paid expatriate workers on permits who are forced into overcrowded, cramped rooms and dormitories where workers are even sharing beds in Dickensian conditions.

The government’s task force produced a report that was approved by Cabinet but has never been made public. CNS made an FOI request for it on 26 March and we are still waiting to find out if the requested document will be released as the Cabinet Office, which holds it, requested a 30 day extension. This extension period expired three weeks ago.

Whether or not the findings in that report are influencing this proposed policy remains to be seen. But with around nine months to go before parliament is prorogued to pave the way for the general election campaign, the people of Cayman are unlikely to see any significant movement towards addressing the crisis before that national vote.

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Category: Local News, Policy, Politics

Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Only Caymanians should be allowed to own more than one property. At least keeps some wealth in the local community.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I remember the 70’s when there was no AirBnB and condos on Seven Mile Beach could be purchased for less than $100K.

    Back then there were less than 4,000 foreigners living here and/or looking a place to rent or purchase.

    I hate to say this, but I’m probably closer to being able to get a condo on Seven Mile Beach today, if that was my dream, than I was back then when I had many years ahead of me to pay off a loan but no bank willing to give me one.

    Banning AirBnB and foreign ownership will not solve the problem, and I’m sure an economist can explain that far better than I can.

    However, cutting off or severely restricting the revenue that government gets from AirBnB tax and property tranfer tax, from a succession of governments that have proven abilities to spend more that government makes every year could very well end up bringing Cayman to its knees and making people willing to sell their houses/condos for whatever they can get for them.

    So if you want to purchase a home or condo really cheap, be careful what you wish for.

    • Anonymous says:

      Short term rentals are a plague upon the world. Most everywhere with this plague has began to curb or eliminate it.

      It kills affordable housing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Perfect, let’s learn how to build American style ghettos

  4. Anonymous says:

    civilized countries like bermuda have laws to prevent entities/billionaires taking over their country?! they can own x% and no more…i guess we aint corrupted…so that cant happen here.. lol

    • Anonymous says:

      According to the KPMG Bermuda Budget Snapshot for 2023-24, government interest-bearing debt stands at $3.29 billion. Let’s fast forward through Bermuda’s significant debt history over the past 20-plus years. In 2000, under the first Progressive Labour Party administration, our debt — net of the sinking fund — stood at about $139 million. By 2004, that number had been reduced to $117 million by the finance minister, Eugene Cox. During the years from 2004 to 2023, various finance ministers strolled out to the markets and borrowed what is now the present total of $3.29 billion.

      Good example Bermuda. Everything is great there and all of the young people have their own homes. Not!

      • Anonymous says:

        You mean that place in the middle of the Atlantic that pretends to be a Caribbean Island.?

  5. Anonymous says:

    These comments spell doom.

    • Citizen of Latveria says:

      Doom? Affordable housing market was doomed after Ivan and foreign investors descended upon the islands.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I can feel the downvotes coming but I’m going to say it anyway and if it’s a hard truth to swallow then so be it:

    There is no restriction on foreign ownership, or AirBNB, or change to the point system etc that will create meaningful reductions in house prices WITHOUT adversely affecting MANY Caymanians.

    Think about it for a second, the market doesn’t just work on one property at a time; if you change something to crash the price of housing on SMB by say 20% or 30% or whatever, it will also crash the value of housing in Savanah, and Prospect, and East End. So your parents who’ve had their house forever and built up a decent amount of equity in it are going to lose that value.

    You cannot decouple the market. So those changes would hurt every existing Caymanian homeowner by the same amount that it would help a prospective Caymanian home-buyer. Guess which of those groups is bigger? Go ask 100 existing Caymanian homeowners if they are willing to take a 20-40% hit to their own property just so priced-out buyers can buy something? 99 of them at least will say “NO”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Another point is that a lot of Caymanians over many years have been renting their ‘2nd home’ to short-stay even before Air B&B ‘disrupted’ that market. So any attack on the short-term rental market is an attack by big businesses on the smaller Caymanian trying to get a small piece of the tourism pie. And as more Caymanians were born (or otherwise made) and as more of us achieved economic success and could afford that ‘beach cottage’ more of us put it in the short-term rental market to pay for the weekends we can use it ourselves. As you said, decoupling these issues is complicated if we don’t ant to hurt ourselves in the process.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like a greed problem then. I think you’re missing the bigger picture here. People are struggling just to have the ability to call themself a “homeowner”

      Go ask 100 existing Caymanian non homeowners if they care if grandmas house takes a 20-40% hit so we can buy something. 99 of them at least will say “Yes”

      -A working Caymanian that wasn’t conceived when land sold for $5000 Kyd

      • Anonymous says:

        Ok well that says a lot about you and looking after your grandparents interests. It’s also more complicated than anyone on your side of the fence wants to make it.

        If an existing homeowner buys a house for $500,000 with $50,000 down and a loan of $450000….and then you get your way and correct prices by 20-30% that home could lose value down to $350,000 and be underwater by 100k. If banks decide you do t have enough collateral they will do a cash call and when you can’t cover it there goes your house.

        Nobody on earth with a brain wants a 20-30% housing correction…because there is no way to correct housing value by that much without crashing the economy as a whole by a similar amount. Then you will have all the unemployment and wage stagnation that comes with it.

        Save you money, keep learning, get on the property ladder however you can and do not ever aim for a 20-30% crash. That’s just friggin stupidity

    • Anonymous says:

      That is incorrect on every level. Unless you intend to downsize, speculate or take out a bigger mortgage on your equity, rising house prices are irrelevant because you have to live somewhere! Rising property prices are a boom to non Caymanians because they make a tax free win when they leave the island or sell off parts of their Cayman property empire. High property prices do not benefit first time Caymanian home buyers or existing Caymanian home owners.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ok well it’s very very common that people downsize as they get older. When they’re young and have kids they have a big house. Then kids move out, mom and dad retire and buy something smaller.

      • Anonymous says:

        This might be the dumbest thing I’ve read ever. “Rising home prices do not benefit first time buyers or existing buyers”????

        Of course it does. If you own a home why the hell would you not want it to go up in value? You want to pay interest and be in debt for a depreciating asset?

        Nobody on earth that owns a home wants it going down in value. And everyone that buys their first home wants it to skyrocket the second they close on it.

        Go back to school and try again. SMH

      • Anonymous says:


  7. Anonymous says:

    Ban second home ownership for non Caymanians. You need a work permit for ever other profession. Why is property speculation and rental any different.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Time for trailer parks
    we already have the trailer park trash so should be easy.

  9. Mr AL says:

    A report is always put in place as a way to make the current government look as they are trying to solve the issue.

    It has never worked though.

    Once completed, the report will be ignored. Just like all of the other reports that came before it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Put a value limit on what non-Caymanians are allowed to buy. Stop using property as a way to gain points for PR. Stop making it so easy for non-Caymanians to purchase property here. How many times must the same thing be said over and over?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Consultants are always hired for Government projects. What are we paying senior civil servants for? To hire consultants to do their jobs??!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Waiting on another F*cking report.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Housing is a major issue hurting Caymanians and non-Caymanians living here. The past 3 Governments FAILED to protect Caymanians and this one in particular has allowed the housing crisis to get worse.

    According to the published Cabinet Meeting Summary for the meeting of Tuesday, 24 October 2023 Cabinet

    **Approved the Report entitled “Technical Working Group of the Inter-Ministerial Housing Taskforce: 27 Policy Recommendations/Options” and to undertake the actioning of the 27 recommendations listed in the Report.**

    What were the 27 recommendations?
    What progress has been made?

    Time for a Government scorecard to hold these self centered, self serving, bought and paid for stooges accountable.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Ban AirBnBs. Let housing be for people to live in and not for investment vehicles for outside money.

    • Anonymous says:

      If amended to ban non-Caymanian AirBnBs, then I’m in complete agreement. It is fine for foreigners to come here and buy or build a place. I don’t think they should be allowed to be absentee landlords.

      Also, stop the frenetic overbuilding of hotels! Caymanians workers don’t build them, and Caymanian workers don’t provide hospitality services for them. Every new hotel is another several hundred expat underpaid employee that needs housing. THIS is the answer to the “housing crisis”.

  15. Anonymous says:

    With a record number of hotel rooms now available, why is the CIG allowing the airbnb and venmo abuse to continue? This is one of the main causes of the housing shortage that has resulting in the skyrocketing of housing prices. All major cities including NY have been introducing regulations to stop this madness.

  16. Anonymous says:

    privatize profits, socialize costs….

  17. Anonymous says:

    Of course, Count Sultants!
    Between Ministers, Chief Officers, DCOs, Strategy Officers, Cabinet Policy Officers etc..
    and hundreds of local developers. architects and planners…
    only Con Sultants can tell us what we need!?

  18. Dragonfruit BZ says:

    Until a moratorium is placed on non-Caymanian investors-developers as well as one on Air B&B-VRBO-Short Term Rentals, nothing will fundamentally change no matter how many reports are undertaken.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The Dickensian conditions are unlawful. If our Immigration (Transition) Act (s. 58(3)(f)) were being followed, let alone enforced, no such issue would arise.

    Our problems, almost all of them, are a direct result of our refusal to enforce our own laws.

  20. Anonymous says:

    another report to be ignored….
    How many recommendations of the miller-shaw or ernst & young reports have been implemented?

  21. Anonymous says:

    So we spend a quarter of a million dollars to find out our rental rates are too high. The plan was to bring the Residential Tenancies Act into force but they rescinded such plan. Hey why make things easier for the poor? They drive around $100000 Tahoes, increase salaries for their friends, employ under qualified people, drain our Treasury….I can go on.

  22. Anonymous says:

    The first paragraph has already been written. 50 new houses will be built in Cayman Brac to house the workers who will build 100 new houses. Mortgage payments will capped at 25% of the monthly NAU stipend. This pattern will then be adopted for North Side and West Bay. Depending on the outcome of elections, it might be further expanded.

  23. Anonymous says:

    psst….they the problem! why they allow the rich/billionaires buy up most land and hoarding it up…as they leasing..not selling…ZZZZZZ


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