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Housing in Bahamas

Buying a Property

There are no restrictions on foreigners buying property. Since the International Persons Landholding Act took effect in January 1994, replacing the Immovable Property Act of 1981, it has been much easier for foreigners to purchase property in the Bahamas. A permit from the government is only needed if the property to be bought is more than five acres or is an undeveloped land. If otherwise, the property must only be registered with the Investment Board and the Central Bank after the transaction.

An attorney will be hired by the buyer of property to determine the validity of the title and check for encumbrances to the title. A break in the chain of title owners or missing abstracts will reduce the marketability of subject property. Title insurance is neither required nor used in the Bahamas as a means of ensuring good title currently.

The registration of the purchase must be applied to the Office of the Prime Minister. The application should be submitted together with a copy of the conveyance (proof of ownership), and evidence of payment of Stamp Duty and Real Property Tax. A Bankers Draft/Proposal Money Order payable to 'The Public Treasury' of $25 is included for the application fee. A Certification of Registration will be issued afterwards.

All Non-Bahamian owners of residential property can apply for a Home Owners Resident Card. This allows the home-owner, home-owner's spouse, and minor children port entry into the Bahamas, and to stay in the country until the card expires. This costs $500 per annum. If residing yearly in the country is an option, there is the 'Annual Residence Permit', which costs $1,000, and $25 for each dependent.

Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, offers the most versatile real estate options. Whether you're looking for a single family home, condo, town house, vacant land or rental, Nassau real estate covers it all.

Nassau, located on the island of New Providence, is linked to Paradise Island by bridge. The top real estate areas on the island are Lyford Cay, Ocean Club Estates on Paradise Island, Old Fort near Lyford Cay, and Port New Providence.

Renting a Property

There are two broad groups of rental housing in Bahamas; expensive vacation or holiday units, with tenancies lasting about a week to a month, and the common rental housing for residents. Rents can be freely negotiated and adjusted in both markets except for those falling under the Rent Control Act.

The Rent Control Act of 1975 applies to dwellings with a total value less than $25,000. Rent shall not exceed 15% of the assessed value of the house and land, 20% when furniture is included. Obviously, the multi-million vacation resorts are not covered by this law. According to one parliamentary minister, no house right now in Bahamas is worth below $25,000.

There seems to be no legal restrictions on deposits. For common tenancies, a security and advance payment for the first and last month’s rent are normally required.

For vacation houses, deposits vary depending upon the size and location of the unit. Usually, a reservation fee worth 30% to 50% of the total rent is paid in advance. The remainder of the rental fee is usually paid 45 to 60 days prior to arrival. There is a cancellation fee, about $50 to $100, to be deducted from the reservation fee. A refundable security/damage deposit is also required, about $250-$500. Unless there are other reservations, the tenant can renew their weekly or monthly lease.

Tenancy for a Period is the most common form of leasehold. The terms of the lease including a list of tenants must be in writing to enforce the contract. Tenancy from Period to Period such as month-to-month tenancies is allowed in the Bahamas but it is rarely practiced.





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