B&B hosts to face daily fines after amnesty

| 13/10/2015 | 24 Comments

CNS Business(CNS Business): Unlicensed property owners subletting guest rooms, apartments or houses to tourists have been given until the end of the year to comply with the licensing and fee regime before government begins issuing daily $100 fines, officials from the Hotel Licensing Board have said. An amnesty, which began on 1 October, will last until 31 December to allow owners time to register their properties and they will not be fined during this three-month period. Once registered, the properties will be inspected by the authorities and licensed according to the standards.

“The Hotel Licensing Board is mandated to ensure that every overnight visitor to the Cayman Islands is given an experience reflective of the quality of the Cayman Islands’ tourism product,” a spokesperson from the Department of Tourism stated in a release following headlines regarding the increased use of websites such as AirBnB, where casual and less expensive accommodation is offered to world travellers.

Although some countries that have tourism licensing regimes have relaxed the rules for bed and breakfast accommodation, especially in private homes, Cayman tourism officials have made it clear that it will not be carving out any special provisions for the B&B or low cost accommodation market.

“A Tourism Accommodations Licence demonstrates that a property has undergone the appropriate quality assurance procedures and is operating lawfully,” officials added.

Aware of the increase in the number of residents privately renting their properties and rooms on the web, the board said that it hoped independent tourism accommodation operators would use the amnesty to “educate themselves on Tourism Law and the licensing process”.

Warning owners about falling foul of the law, the spokesperson said properties not licenced after the amnesty period is closed will be subject to the full fine as well as possible legal action.

“Independent tourism accommodations providers are encouraged to take advantage of the amnesty offer to safeguard against these consequences,” the board added.

However, the requirements are quite exacting and include a minimum registration fee of $250, a trade and business licence to rent more than one room, requirements to meet health and safety, fire, security and certain accommodation standards, such as the quality of window coverings and furnishings and the maintenance of the buildings. Owners will also be expected to collect the 13% accommodation tax from their guests and pay government each month.

For details about licensing property visit the Department of Tourism website.

For more information, contact the Hotel Licensing Board secretariat at 949-0623 or [email protected]

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Category: Stay-over tourism, Tourism

Comments (24)

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  1. da-wa-u-get says:

    It clearly is a difficult situation to enforce, but some control is required. I have seen "accommodations" being rented to visitors that I would not keep my dog in!
    However, not all rental accommodation has to be at the same standard, there can be various levels or grades.
    Those of us that have managed properties where we had a lot of "friends of the owners" staying, only know too well the call in the middle of the night when the lightbulb in the fridge went out or a toilet overflowed, response; sorry, but you're not a paying guest, it is your problem. Silence

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    • Anonymous says:

      You won't be managing any property if you treat guests like that. I dojn't think you are actually a manager.

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      • Anonymous says:

        What the manager is saying is that they don't manage that property so they can't go into that property. Read the drop box comments below. This is most likely to happen at condos. The manager above is managing the condos but not # 1 because the owner said that the owner would take care of everything and unbeknownst to him/her the owner of condo # 1 is renting illegally.

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        • Anonymous says:

          That is not at all what the "manager" is saying, and she sounds much more concerned for her lost fee than for the illegality.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    my elderly mother has been coming to cayman for donkey years they know she owns a home and the many times she has come. She dreads being questioned by the animals at immigration and then god forbid she wants to stay for 32 days its like she is asking for blood and then they want her to go sit in that slumhole in town for 3 hours while some snot asks her all kinds of nasty questions. Lucky for her she now owns a condo in Aruba and wont have to come back to your little shithole anymore

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    • Anonymous says:

      I have a house at Rum Point and that's not my experience at all.

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  3. Cayman Went says:

    You guys are going to have bigger problems, if you are trying to rent out your properties. Looks like someone has put the hammer down on flight only pricing in to GCM. Either the price is SKY HIGH or they are reading sold out. We're talking about $2000pp/rt. Packages to hotels, in comparison to air only, are not only available ($1200-1400pp/rt) but roughly same prices as they have always been in past year.

    I'm just postulating here, but maybe the flight only prices are being taxed more than the packages? CIG has to get the taxes some way. Maybe they are saying no directs to the airlines? Someone needs to look into this situation. It is glaringly obvious that there is a big intervention happening here.

    If people think that this only pertains to tourists, remember your family and friends will also be experiencing the same costs.

    Also, saw DoT out tweeting Expedia trips. Terrible. Nightmare for the property and, many times, a traveller.

    As a friendly reminder: please make sure you go out to the peaceful port protest on Saturday October 17 in front of Breezes on Harbour Drive in George Town at 3pm sharp.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    So how would they enforce? What if it is not advertised on airbnb but arranged other ways. Or how about people who have very large families and friends that want to visit. How do they prove that they are paying for the accommodations versus just staying there free of charge?

    Who is the fine charged to? And how will it be enforced? What of the many ppl that own properties that rent them out and never step foot on island? How do you fine them? And the properties that are owned by holding companies that are not local cayman companies, how are they fined? Ownership can change hands at anytime.

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    • da-wa-u-get says:

      The answer to all your questions is: The registered Owner! Or place a lien against the property, any owner tries to sell the property will have to clear the lien before title can be transferred or company ownership altered.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    If I have a property in Cayman, live in another offshore jurisdiction and rent it out on Airbnb, what are the Cayman Islands able to do about it?
    I have no tax obligations in either territory, the money doesn't pass through Cayman and if you want to fine each day, come and find me and collect it.

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    • SAM says:

      They will interrogate your guests as 9.36am has mentioned.

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      • Anonymous says:

        "I am sorry sir, we suspect you to be using an unlicensed B and B for vacation purposes. You are denied entry into the Cayman Islands and your Consulate will be informed".

        Laugh my ass off!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Well if that's all it is then there is no enforcement.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The law is written that the Operator is fined. So whomever is letting people into the condo would be fined.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks for the heads up - Dropbox and combination entry code from now on.

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      • Anonymous says:

        And when you don't actually require a key to enter but a passcode? Which operator would be charged? All of this can be done overseas. Paying for the condo and changing the passcode entrance.

        They may interrogate the guest but again if they are told and provided a script to say they are friends/family, then how to prove otherwise?

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  6. Forelock says:

    This is another classic example of a CIG command and control mindset that can't and so won't keep up with change brought about by rapidly moving technology and what the market wants.

    Cayman's reputation was built on the friendly personal reception our early visitors used to get. Get out of the way CIG and we will see revenues in every other area of the economy rising.

    Come on Uber - let's break the restricted taxis rules too while we are at it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I liken Uber to hitch hiking by App. I like that the DOT licenses properties. I wouldn't stay at a hotel while traveling that wasn't licensed so totally believe the DOT should license properties that are rented to tourists here. What difference does moving technology make? You can still maximize use of technology and legally rent your place out.

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      • Anonymous says:

        A version of uber has been running already using whatsapp and the expat community. Airport drop offs are free but you pay it forward to another friend. Night time pick ups are the same deal, what the occupants wish to give to the driver is up to them.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    I have a friend visiting from Canada, He came here to see me, to hang out with me and my family. He put my address down as where he is staying on the island and was given the 3rd degree by immigration, How much was I charging him etc. He is not paying me for his room, he is my friend whom I invited to visit. When I visit him I don't pay him. Next time we are just going to meet in Jamaica, it will be a vacation for all of us instead of going through the interrogation he got upon entry. There is bigger more important stuff you should be dealing with.

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    • Anonymous says:

      9:36 Your attitude shows that you have no idea how prevalent this practice is.The truth is that this has been a problem for decades,in particular since the onset of condo development. People have been operating their condos and vacation homes as businesses and avoiding accommodation taxes by having their paying guests pass themselves off to immigration as "immediate family members". So naturally some visitors may have to be asked a few more questions in an attempt to get to the truth. It is totally unfair for these rogue operators to undercut law abiding entities by being able to charge less as a result of avoiding payment of fees due.

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  8. Selena says:

    “The Hotel Licensing Board is mandated to ensure that every overnight visitor to the Cayman Islands is given an experience reflective of the quality of the Cayman Islands’ tourism product
    This statement is the insult to the overnight tourists that stay in the sub-par hotels that somehow pass annual inspections.

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    • Anonymous says:

      True, for a number of years the HLB has cleared one particular property on SMB despite well-documented evidence that many of the rooms are not fit for use. This isn't about maintaining standards it's about who's pulling the strings.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Empty threats.

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