Landlord stayed in tenant’s condo

| 09/09/2016

My husband and I live at a condo on island that is owned by a woman living in (the US). Upon moving into our condo we found out that the owner had not been to Cayman to see her unit in over 10 years. It needed a lot of work! We told her we would be off island for the month of July and that she should come down and take a look at the place. We made it clear we were not comfortable with her sleeping in our condo if we still had to pay rent for the entire month, especially the 10 days she was here. She never responded. She was here for 10 days in July sleeping in our bed without our permission. We deducted the days she was here from the total rent for the month and are even covering the cost of the CUC bill, though she left the AC fan on for three weeks straight after she left, running the bill to almost $400 for a month when the place was only occupied for 10 days. She is now threatening to evict us if we do not pay for the days that she was here sleeping in our condo. Are there laws against this in Cayman or is this an ethics issue?

Auntie’s answer: Right up front I would call this an ethics issue and I wish I could say that what your landlady did was against the law. Unfortunately, the law regarding landlords and tenants remains in flux. The original legislation, the Landlord and Tenants Law (1998 Revision) which was initially enacted in 1838 (that is not a typo), has long been considered woefully inadequate. That legislation basically protects the interests of the landlords hence the drafting of the much-more comprehensive and specific Residential Tenancies Law (2009), based on the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission.

Unbelievably, it has been seven years and still that law has not been enacted; at this point it doesn’t seem likely to be any time soon.

I’m not a legal expert, but if something just seems wrong then I feel obligated to at least start a conversation about it.

In your case, there isn’t anything in the existing law that deals with your concerns, but the Residential Tenancies Law, 2009 does contain sections on the right of a landlord to enter a flat that clearly address your question.

I realise that since the law has not been enacted, it does you no good, but I think it important to note that in Section 41 it says a landlord shall not enter the premises of his tenant without prior consent except in cases of emergency. Among the acceptable reasons for entry with consent are to inspect the premises, check on work the tenant agreed to do or for the landlord to carry out repairs.

I cite that section to show that our lawmakers in their infinite wisdom saw a need to legislate when a landlord can enter a tenant’s place, in your case, a condo.

While you did not mention whether this is addressed in your lease, the standard document should include clauses on the responsibilities of both landlord and tenant.

I also feel I am on solid ground to say that while most leases would stipulate that a landlord give notice before entering a home, which your landlady did, that certainly does not give her the right to move in, for whatever period of time. I also checked with a realtor (who is not a lawyer) who told me, “under the assumption that the lease is a fairly standard one, what has gone on here is not right and bordering on unlawful” since you did not give permission for your landlady to live in the condo.

Having said all that, I am not sure what your legal recourse is. Assuming, again, that your landlady broke the terms of your lease, I would recommend you seek a lawyer’s help, especially since there is a fair bit of money involved and the possibility of eviction has been raised.

If you can’t afford a lawyer, you can consult with one for free through the Legal Befrienders Service. Here is a link to more information on the service, which is provided by the Family Resource Centre.

Meanwhile, I will hope that reason and common sense prevail and you are able to navigate your way out of this unfortunate situation.

The 2009 law and a review of the old law by the Law Reform Commission can be found on the CNS Library


Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (11)

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  1. Speak no evil says:

    My problem is the old tenant refuse to take out his old tore up furniture and old stuff that is packed in the ceiling ald sirty sheet and clothes dive gare and tons of stuff that rats are now making a party with and the landlord is afraid to help me because the last tenant she had in one of her appartment slap her so hard and broke her glases on her face just because she collected the 3 month rent they owed she is very nice lady but is terrified to do anything to make long story ahort this old tenant work at the prison and his friend told me to leave him alone because he can make a prisoner come out to hurt me this man dont own the place he just live there a few years and leave to his new house i did tex him and he send back to say he have nothing to talk to me about and i must please dont text him back ( what is my other choice other than moving ( by the way this man is a foreighner with cayman status working for the gov

  2. Anonymous says:

    We had a landlady who use to enter the house and help herself to the alcohol. She would say that she ran out of …. and would buy it back. We eventually just locked up the alcohol and she never bought back any that she had used.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So you rented a crummy cheapo condo from an absentee landlord and think somehow you’re going to get them to fix it up for you? Your story actually makes little sense. Why invite her to come when you were not there? Why would you think to emphasize that she could not sleep there? Sounds like a story you made up after the fact to me.

  4. Anonymous says:

    spend a few extra dollars to advertise a warning about this landlord, and what she does in the local paper by name and also let all your other friends and their friends know

    Name and shame.

    Alternatively plan to go away again, and when she comes down, go and stay at her property, a nice holiday home as such and rent free>

    to paraphrace the bible, do unto ours that which they have done to you

  5. Anonymous says:

    This island has no consumer protection, no unions, no organized social security etc etc.
    So like s lot of people say, just leave and may I add, throw a bag of cement in the toilets.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman islands legal system is till third world all the way. Don’t plan on getting any justice that way. The good news is you can do what every you want back to her and get away with it here. Unless she is a Caymanian in which case you were screwed the moment you did business with her.

  7. Anonymous says:

    how do you know she stayed in the apartment?

    • Nicole says:

      She told me she did and offered to pay for her portion of the CUC. I have multiple emails that state that.

  8. Veritas says:

    Did this couple have a rent increase whilst they occupied it. They do not say if the landlord agreed to renovate the apartment. We need to hear her side of the story.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I will recommend you just drop it. First of all, your financial losses are insignificant to start any kind of legal proceedings. How are you going to prove that she slept in your bed? Even if you can, lets say it was recorded on a hidden camera, there is really nothing to pursue here, financially speaking.
    Just move out and make sure you read the lease agreement next time you sign it.
    I am speaking from the experience. The circumstances were different and I did hire an attorney and sue the landlord and got all my money back including an attorney fee…. But no punitive damages were awarded. And it was pure luck that it did not drag forever. It took lots of energy, time, leg work, as I did all the paperwork and filed it through the court myself (an attorney just showed up for the hearing), lots of trips to the court house, and let me tell you it takes a lot from you just to see how the court clerks work and how unprofessional their workplace looks. One would think that the Courthouse employees would be prohibited from displaying personal and religious pictures, posters, banners, etc to maintain professional atmosphere in a governmental institution, think again. But that’s another story for another time.
    So learn from the experience and move on with your life.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn’t want to live in her condo anymore if that is her attitude. You specifically stated that you did NOT want her to stay in your abode. To me, the fact that she did anyway is actually a bit creepy.
    She is what we call a scumbag landlord. Stand firm. She owes you for rent and for the CUC bill!!!!!