Working from home in Cayman, are you legal? — Property Cayman | Real Estate Experts in the Cayman Islands

Working from home in Cayman, are you legal?

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Michael Joseph

Real Estate Agent

Did you know the Cayman Islands Government has regulations around the use of home offices?

The legislation applies to all companies conducting business in the Cayman Islands, essentially anyone with Trade & Business license. So, if you choose a residential premise as the base of your commercial activity, then I encourage you to take note.

Cayman Laws Pertaining to Home Offices

The Planning Department’s law and regulations prohibit the use of a residential property (a private home or condo) for activities that fall outside what the property is zoned for. In other words, you can’t conduct online business or administration from your house, just like you can’t have a chicken farm in the back garden of your apartment.

There is an exception to this rule, but it is a process. You can apply for permission, demonstrating a reasonable need for your home office.

Here are the Department of Commerce & Investments guidelines on the topic:

The Trade & Business Licensing Board is aware that residential addresses are sometimes put on application forms as this is where the proposed business is to be operated from. Typically, this is where the application is in relation to a small business where the owner is either unable or unwilling to obtain commercial premises. Whilst the Board has from time to time granted licences permitting the use of a home as the place of business, often subject to conditions restricting the types of business activity that may be conducted there, or perhaps prohibiting the storage of certain goods at that location, the Board is generally reluctant to allow private homes to be used as a place of business other than for administrative purposes relating to the business. This is due to concerns over residential neighbourhoods being used for unauthorized business activities and associated zoning, planning, safety and health concerns. Applicants should therefore endeavour to obtain a business address and location appropriate for their proposed activities.”

Cayman Trade & Business License Renewal

As part of your annual Trade & Business license renewal you need to prove that you are authorized to carry out commercial activity at your business’s address. Meaning planning laws and property by-laws and covenants take effect.

In the case of condos, your strata must consent to your home office by agreeing not to enforce the Strata By-laws that restrict commercial activity. This essentially means they are permitting business activity so long as;

  1. The activity has no branded work vehicles
  2. There are no on-site meetings with customers and,
  3. No employees come and go (other than those that live there)

Beware however, many Strata’s won’t consent. And if they do, Planning and ultimately the Trade & Business Licensing Board still may not provide the exemption.

In the case of a private home, the zoning laws will be consulted by the Trade & Business Board to determine if you are adhering to the residential zoning based on your activity. If not, then you will be conducting business illegally.

Commercial Real Estate and Shared Working Spaces

The take-home message here: despite ‘Covid times’, obtaining legal approval to set up an office at home in Cayman can be tricky. If you want to discuss the permission process, and perhaps if commercial real estate or shared working space might be better for you, please feel free to reach out.

I’d be happy to chat and provide recommendations Property Cayman style. Your journey is our priority.

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From property valuations to financing, and purchase offers, buying a home can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Island living, it’s literally what we do for a living.

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