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Ask the expert: Strata titles and how they work

By Ian Jamieson

As an attorney, I am often asked questions about how the Strata Titles Registration Law works in the Cayman Islands. Below are the answers to some of the most common questions I am asked.

Q: What is a strata and where is it used?
 A strata is a scheme where a parcel of land is divided between various owners and for each owner to hold their share of a unit in a separate, registered title. The law provides a regime enabling those owners to govern and administer their development between themselves. Typically this is seen in condominium developments such as those seen along Seven Mile Beach, but there are also strata developments such as Venetia in South Sound where each detached property is also part of a strata.

Q: How are stratas run?
The main governing document for stratas is the bylaws. Bylaws set out the rules and regulations by which each owner must abide. The bylaws will typically deal with such things as the obligations of the proprietors, the collection of strata fees for the upkeep of the property and the common areas and the appointment and power of the executive committee.

Q: What is the executive committee's job?
 It is the executive committee's job to manage the strata. Typically, this involves enforcing the bylaws in order to maintain standards, collecting strata fees and arranging insurance over the building and common areas. Sometimes the executive committee delegates this job to a professional management company and sometimes they deal with the management themselves. Typically the executive committee is made up of strata owners who have been voted in by their peers, but it is also common for a developer to retain control of a strata through the executive committee when there are unsold properties.

Q: What do I pay for with my strata fees?
 You will be charged strata fees during your ownership of your strata unit. Typically this is based on the percentage of square footage of the development which you own. Strata fees cover things like the cost of upkeep of common areas, your share of building insurance and the provision of a sinking fund for use in emergencies. Stratas also have the ability to levy special assessments for one-off items of capital expenditure that may have been unforeseen.

Q: Can I get financing on the purchase of a strata title?
Yes, you can. Banks regularly lend on strata titles.

This article first appeared in the March print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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About the author

Ian Jamieson is a partner of the Bedell Cristin law firm in Camana Bay. He heads the firm's Cayman Inward Investment Group. His areas of expertise are real estate, banking and finance.