Kerry Horek and Andre Jackson Managing Director of Island Rental Services.In the last six months, approximately 1800 residential properties have come on the market in the Cayman Islands with approximately 40 percent of them placed up for rent.This has led to a flooding of the market across all price points according to Property Manager Kerry Horek of Island Rental Services.“This has caused prices to drop across all ranges,” said Ms Horek. “But that is mostly for two or more bedrooms. The demand for one bedroom apartments remains high. If a prices drop on a one bedroom it is usually only $50 to $100.”She said the enormous amount of new rental properties have even caused some properties that have not been refurbished to drop down to a lower rate.
Another trend that has become effective in the rental marketing is the Internet. Managing Director Andre Jackson states that the Company felt utilising the web for newcomers to the island was a dynamic venture, and being that Island Rentals Services has the #1 rental website Properties.ky in the Country with a comprehensive preview of available rental listings and which is updated on a daily basis this tool gave newcomers an insight when renting. Forty percent of rentals made by Island Rental Services are through their website. Much of it is done before the client even moves to the country.“Most real estate websites for Cayman cater to sales. No one was catering to rentals and I thought – ‘why not rentals?’ ” said Ms Horek.Originally, she thought of it as a way for expatriate workers and students who are just moving to the Island to preview what was out there using photographs of the rentals and the amenities that are available in different price ranges and locations.“Individuals from all over the world find that we make it so easy for them to relocate,” said Ms Horek.“If they have a local contact on the Island such as a co-worker at the same company or a friend, we always encourage them to ask their contact to also check out the property, to take extra pictures of the property or the neighbourhood and give their opinion,” she stated.
Other information included on the website is what the community has to offer such as child care, pet care, grocery stores, pharmacies, bus routes and beaches. This allows the prospective tenant to evaluate the property and how it will fit a particular lifestyle.Ms Horek also noted that there needs to be more solid regulation in the rental business.She said that there should be stronger tenant/landlord laws in place. One important regulation that should be added is that all landlords should have to give their tenant a lease agreement.“There is always bickering between tenant and landlord and this is why it is imperative to provide a tenant with an agreement, signed and all concerned parties agree to these terms and comply with them,” added Ms Horek.“Tenants who take up occupancy of a property and don’t have a signed lease agreement outlining all the conditions are setting themselves up for problems at the end of the day. There are landlords in this country who abuse tenants with claiming they never had a contract and never needed one and have been renting for 20 years. I would stay away from such persons.” She added that it should be mandatory for landlords to provide a written contract between the parties and this should be across the board for everyone who has a rental property in this country. “Tenants are just as much a part of the rental investment, without a tenant your property is of no use to you if you are using it as an investment.
Therefore, taking the added initiative to obtain a contract either through a property manager or an attorney will enhance the rental of your property,” Ms Horek explained. “Tenants want a contract and by right they should be provided with one, saying that, a landlord should also have their rights to the rental property and they should ensure that these are outlined in the same contract for all to agree with,” explained Ms Horek. Another recommendation that should be included in the amended law is for tenants to give 60 days notice to vacate the property for a one year lease and 30 days notice to leave with less than a year lease. Tenant screening is another important aspect in property management. Some people will use fraudulent employment letters when they would not otherwise qualify. Other applicants have questionable police records, even if they somehow obtained a work permit, she said, adding this is why it is important to evaluate the references beyond the surface information to make sure the prospective tenant is who he or she says they are. Ms Horek said members of the rental community can list tenants with their office who are physically or verbally abusive, caused damages without paying, walking out without paying the rent or utilities in their network. She said that physical abuse could, for example, get someone blacklisted for five years. Walking out on the lease agreement without paying rent would be two years and evictions are indefinite.
It is more difficult to rent properties that will accept pets two years after Hurricane Ivan even in a saturated market. “Tenants who swore their pet was their child ran off and left them in the unit. Owners were stuck caring for their pets or having to send them over to the pound, which was probably full as well. Since this time, most of our owners simply will not take pets, and being that I am a pet lover, this is disheartening to note that irresponsible individuals would do something like this,” she said. Ms Horek added that most tenants respect the properties they rent as well as the agreement but some tenants make the mistake of feeling that because they are paying to rent the unit they can take this for granted. As a result there is a growing trend toward asking for first and last month rent in addition to security deposits, credit cards, identification, landlord references as well as job references. Students are required to confirm their financial-aid financing prior to renting. Many owners are now refusing to accept a tenant who does not have most of these things in place. Ms Horek stated that the rental and property management business is not easy, but it is often rewarding. “We have a plan in place for our managed properties in the event of a catastrophic event, and our owners are in complete agreement.
We do our best to get repair persons to the property within 24 hours of the call and depending on the level of urgency much sooner,” she said. “We prepare our tenants ahead of time with hurricane preparedness packages and we send these out in March of each year.” Island Rental Services was the only agency on island following the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 who were available and readily came to the aid of their tenants who remained on island during the storm. ‘We gave out care packages, with water, ice and non-perishable foods and hired additional cleaners to clean up the residents quickly so our tenants and owners” stated Andre Jackson, Managing Director. “Kerry, was amazing she tirelessly worked all through the night for weeks following the Hurricane to organized and relocate tenants in our managed rentals to alternate housing”. Island Rental Services prides themselves on providing you with the best possible service in the industry, with a team of agents and maintenance personnel and they do go the ‘extra mile’ for their clients. This press release was approved for Cayman Net News.