'Legal Landscape' - Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2015

Darren Donnithorne and Stephanie Matthews from Marshall Diel & Myers Limited Property & Estate planning team answer your property related questions and issues in this monthly edition of 'Legal Landscape' with Marshall Diel & Myers Limited.

Question: How will the law change when the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2015 comes into effect?

In our previous column, we broadly discussed the purchase of Bermuda real estate by non-Bermudians. Most readers will be aware that, since the publication of that article, the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2015 (the “Act”) has been approved by the Senate. From here, the Act is likely to be approved by the House in May 2015 and will probably become law shortly thereafter. 

In this article we will provide an initial interpretation of the principal amendments to law effected by the Act with further details to follow in future articles.   

NON-BERMUDIAN PURCHASERS

Under the new Act, the ARV threshold for the purchase of freehold property by non-Bermudians purchasers will be reduced from $177,000 to $153,000. This will enable non-Bermudian to purchase a number of properties which were previously unavailable to them.     

As before, non-Bermudian purchasers holding a residential certificate can acquire a condominium which has been privately developed without Government sponsorship (provided they are not classified as ‘hotel residence’ or ‘tourist accommodation’) provided the ARV exceeds $32,400. 

Under the new Act, the previous list of ‘eligible condominiums’ (i.e. the list of condominium developments available for non-Bermudian purchase without reference to ARV or the holding of a residential certificate) has been removed. What this means, however, is confusing.  Does it mean that non-Bermudians can purchase any condominium unit? Or does it reduce the range of condominiums available for purchase by non-Bermudians? This issue will need to be investigated and further guidance will be needed from the Department of Immigration.   

Finally, under the new Act, non-Bermudian purchasers will be able to hold an interest in up to two properties in Bermuda. Previously, a non-Bermudian purchaser seeking licence to hold a second property in Bermuda would typically be required to dispose of the first property within 12 months.   

Permanent Resident’s Certificate HOLDERS (PRC holders)

Previously, PRC holders were only eligible to purchase a freehold property with a single ARV over $63,000.00.  Under the new Act, this restriction will be removed allowing PRC holders to purchase freehold property in Bermuda irrespective of its ARV. 

Further, under the new Act, PRC holders will be permitted to rent out that property without requiring a permit to do so, which was previously required.  

TOURIST ACCOMMODATION AND HOTEL RESIDENCES

In addition to the above, non-Bermudian purchasers can also purchase properties designated as either ‘tourist accommodation or ‘hotel residences’.  A further discussion of this topic, together with comment on how it is changed by the Act, will follow in our next article.

It remains the case that careful attention must be paid to the type of property being purchased and the procedure involved. We will provide further updates in the near future, so please do keep an eye out for our future articles. We look forward to helping Bermudian Purchasers, non-Bermudians Purchasers and PRC holders successfully navigate the purchase of property in Bermuda.   

This article was written by Darren Donnithorne (Senior Associate & Head of the Property and Estate Planning Team) and Stephanie Matthews (Associate of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives).  

This column is for general guidance only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice. Before proceeding with any matters discussed here, persons are advised to consult with a lawyer.

Got Questions? 

If you have any property questions or issues, please contact us at darren.donnithorne@law.bm or stephanie.matthews@law.bm. We would be happy to work with you to help you navigate the legal landscape in Bermuda, and you may even find your question featured on propertyskipper.  We look forward to hearing from you! 

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