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Do I Need a Real Estate Lawyer for Buying Property in the Cayman Islands?

Buying a property in the Cayman Islands can be an exciting and rewarding investment as the jurisdiction boasts many benefits such as a safe and well-regulated environment, progressive real estate market, no property tax, capital gains tax or inheritance tax.

However, when considering buying a property in the Cayman Islands, it is crucial to understand the legal landscape. This is where the expertise of a seasoned property attorney becomes invaluable. A property attorney specialises in navigating the intricate legal framework specific to the Cayman Islands, ensuring that your interests are protected throughout the entire purchasing process. From conducting thorough due diligence to negotiating contractual terms and addressing potential pitfalls, a property attorney's knowledge and experience can provide you with peace of mind and confidence when making a significant life investment such as buying a property in the Cayman Islands.

With the guidance of a real estate attorney, you can navigate the intricacies of local laws, regulations, and procedures, enabling you to make well-informed decisions and safeguarding your investment in the vibrant and progressive real estate market of the Cayman Islands.

Reasons to use a real estate lawyer when buying property in the Cayman Islands

Navigating the local legal landscape

The Cayman Islands are unique as they have their own legal system, and there are local laws and regulations relating to property ownership and conveyancing which may complicate the process.

A local real estate lawyer who specialises in Cayman Islands real estate will be able to assist you throughout the entire process and help you navigate any applicable intricate legalities and deal with the production and execution of the documents that will need filing.

One of the core reasons why it is essential to hire a lawyer who is well-versed in the Cayman Islands real estate market is due to the fact that the islands are a British Overseas Territory, meaning that the legal system is based on British common law. There are also several local laws and regulations that may be confusing for those who are not experienced with the system.

Avoiding any legal issues

Some of the requirements that a property lawyer in the Cayman Islands can help you with are:

  1. title searches,
  2.  pre-contract enquiries,
  3.  drafting or reviewing sales agreements and other legal documents,
  4. facilitating the transfer and registration of ownership and;
  5. providing guidance on local laws and regulations that will impact your transaction.

An experienced real estate lawyer can also help you avoid potential pitfalls and legal issues that often crop up during the buying process, whilst providing valuable insights into any legal or financial risks that are associated with your target property. This will allow you to make informed decisions when it comes to whether you wish to purchase a target Cayman Islands property or consider another property option.

Protecting your real estate investment

Any purchase agreement for real estate in the Cayman Islands should be carefully scrutinised and negotiated to ensure that it reflects the buyer’s intentions and protects their interests. Property lawyers will be able to advise the buyer on appropriate pre-contract enquiries and potential risks that may arise during the property transaction – especially if there will be any significant time between the date of contracting and the date of closing – and suggest appropriate conditions precedent and/or aid in negotiating more favourable terms with the seller.

Ensuring a smooth transaction on your Cayman real estate purchase

After the purchase agreement has been signed, a real estate lawyer will also be able to help with the closing process, which involves transferring the ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer in the Government’s land registry and making sure all legal requirements have been met.

Key things to know when buying property in the Cayman Islands

Non-Caymanians need a licence to own more than two rental units of property in the Cayman Islands

In terms of local laws and regulations, it is important to note that non-Caymanians who want to purchase and own three or more properties in the Cayman Islands for rental purposes must set up a Cayman Islands resident company and obtain a licence from the Cayman Islands Government.

This licence is granted on a case-by-case basis, but the vast majority of applications are successful. Potential non-Caymanian buyers must show that they have sought unsuccessfully to obtain Caymanian participation in their intended rental property venture before a licence is granted.  The application process also requires buyers to give detailed information about their personal and financial background.

Non-Caymanians looking to buy a residential home will not need a license and are permitted to purchase up to two rental properties in addition to their own residence without needing to incorporate a company and have the company obtain a Trade and Business Licensing Act license and a Local Companies (Control) Act license.

Caymanians may also purchase up to two rental properties in addition to their personal residence without the need to obtain a Trade and Business licence, however, Caymanians need not set up a company to hold in excess of two properties like non-Caymanians are required to do as Caymanians may obtain a Trade and Business licence in their own names. No LCCA licence is required by Caymanians to own more than two rental properties. There is stamp duty on Cayman Islands real estate.

Many buyers will be familiar with our standard 7.5% stamp duty (tax) on the market value of the property which is payable to Government on all property transfers, but it's worth noting that the rate of stamp duty in the Cayman Islands ranges from 2% to 7.5% depending on whether or not the purchaser is Caymanian and if any other properties are owned by the Caymanian purchaser. Other than the stamp duty which is payable upon the transfer of title, there are no other Cayman Islands property taxes.

There is a strict conveyancing process to follow

In terms of conveyancing, the process in the Cayman Islands is similar to the UK, where buyers are best advised to hire a real estate lawyer to conduct a title search, draft the purchase agreement and deal with the closing process - all whilst making sure all legal concerns are addressed.

Is the property leasehold or freehold?

Buyers should also be aware that properties in the Cayman Islands may be held on either a leasehold or freehold basis, and make sure that their real estate lawyer in the Cayman Islands guides them through all the legal terminology surrounding these different types of ownership.

You may need planning permission

Planning permission is also required for any significant developments or alterations of a property. This encompasses new construction, renovations and extensions, so buyers may wish to ensure that proposed changes to the property are possible or even approved by the relevant authorities prior to signing any agreements or to make completion of the purchase conditional on such approvals being granted.

Land registration and Strata title explained

The Cayman Islands Land Registry is responsible for maintaining any records of all land and property transactions, so buyers are required to make sure that any property purchased is properly registered with the land registry, and that all documentation has been completed and filed correctly.

An important aspect of some property transactions in the Cayman Islands is to determine whether or not they are subject to a Strata Plan. Strata Plans allow for the ownership of individual units within a larger development, such as a condominium or apartment complex. It is essential that buyers are aware of the rights and responsibilities within strata ownership, such as strata fees and strata-centric bylaws.

How can we help you?

Our real estate lawyers at Stuarts have many years of experience dealing with property transactions in the Cayman Islands and will work closely with you to advise on the specific requirements and obligations related to your purchase.

Stuarts has become a trusted name for Cayman Islands Real Estate and our Head of Local Legal Services, Buck Grizzel , has garnered a noteworthy reputation in this area, being recognised for his competence, deep knowledge and personalised service; and is ranked as a Recommended Lawyer for real estate by Legal500.

Our real estate team can help you with real estate matters such as:

  1. advising on the lease, purchase, sale and development of commercial and residential properties in the Cayman Islands, including hotels, large commercial buildings, residential units and land developments,
  2. advising banks and other institutions and individuals in connection with mortgage financing, advising property developers in connection with sole and joint venture,
  3. advising residential, commercial and mixed-use developments, as well as;
  4. advising landlords and tenants in connection with long term leases and short-term tenancies.

We are able to deal with any complex matters that need completing, making sure your property transaction goes as smoothly as possible.

Contact our real estate attorneys in the Cayman Islands

To get in touch with one of our expert real estate lawyers in the Cayman Islands today! Call us on +1 (345) 949-3344 or email

Alternatively, you can also use our quick and easy contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Contact our experts for further advice

View profile for Buck GrizzelBuck Grizzel
Head of Local Legal Services
, View profile for Jonathan McLeanJonathan McLean
Partner and Head of Banking & Regulatory

This publication is for general guidance and is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought about specific circumstances.