The legal system in Cyprus concentrates extensively in offering legal services in the areas of corporate law, real estate law, company registrations, tax law, trusts and business law and now an increasing demand for immigration law. Due to Cyprus offering a very attractive international tax system there many investments made in the island and it is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for permanent residency for non EU foreign nationals. We believe that all our clients must know all aspects about purchasing a property in Cyprus, as it is essential for them in making a correct and trusted decision.
Are there any restrictions in purchasing or is there any permit required?
EU nationals are entitled to buy any property without any restrictions or permits required. Non-EU nationals, on the other hand, are only allowed to purchase one property. It can be an apartment, villa, plot of land or anything else. Non-EU nationals must also obtain an approval of the Council of Ministers. This is nowadays more of a procedural matter as it will be approved as long as you do not own another property.
Do all properties have title deeds? Is there a problem if the title deeds are not available?
All properties must have title deeds. The Title deeds are issued by the Land registry department of the Cyprus Government, but the procedure of issuance takes a few years after completion of the project. Until the procedure of issuance of Title deeds is completed, the title deeds are not available.
Even if the title deeds are not issued, your purchase can be safe and secured if the appropriate safeguards are taken by your lawyers. You can feel safe if the following actions are taken:
A search is made to confirm that the land on which the project has been built is on the vendor’s name and to make sure that it is clear of any encumbrances. In the case of mortgages, matters become more complicated, but appropriate measures can and will be taken in order to ensure that your property will not be affected by them in any way.
That the Contract of Sale is stamped by the Tax Office and lodged with the Land Registry for Specific Performance purposes, (Law cap 232 as amended by the laws 50/70, 96/72 and 51(1)/95).
Investigation of the matter of issuance of title deeds.
What are the main expenses in purchasing a property?
The main expenses when you buy a property in Cyprus are:
- The Purchase Price
- The Transfer Fees
- The Stamp Duty
How is the stamp duty fee calculated?
The Stamp Duty is calculated as follows:
|Contract Value €||Fees – %|
|€ 0 – € 5,000||0%|
|€ 5,001 – € 170,000||0.15%|
|on the balance||0.20%|
The stamp duty must be paid within 30 days of signing the contract to avoid paying a penalty.
How is the transfer fee calculated?
The Transfer Fee is the most serious expense over and above the sale price that the purchaser bears, and is calculated as follows:
|Property Value €||Fees – %|
|Up to 85,000 €||3%|
|€ 85,001 – € 170,000||5%|
|€ 170,000 and over||8%|
If there are two purchasers buying one property, they will pay less in transfer fees as the value of the property is divided by two, calculated separately and then added together. The same applies for Three, Four etc purchasers.
The transfer fee is only payable when Purchasers acquire their Title Deed. If the title deed in not available at the time of purchase of the property, it will only be paid at a later stage when the title deeds are available.
Properties subject to VAT are exempt from the above transfer fees.
Properties not subject to VAT are eligible for a 50% exemption from the above transfer fees.
For people who have purchased property, is residential permit easily available?
People who have purchased a property with an approximate value of €300,000 Euro have the right to apply for Cyprus Permanent Residence. For their application they will also need to provide Bank statements and prove that they have a stable income, clean criminal record and private health insurance. Once they purchase the property they are able to live in Cyprus immediately with a temporary residence permit. Furthermore, there is no minimum residence time required in Cyprus except visiting once every two years.
Do I need to employ a solicitor?
We always advise our clients to employ an independent lawyer to ensure that the procedure of their purchase is carried out correctly. We cooperate with some of the leading independent Law Offices on the Island so as to provide all our clients with up to date, professional and swift service and advice.
PURCHASER’S LEGAL CHECKLIST
- Obtain reliable and professional local advice.
- Before signing any agreement carry out a search at the District Lands office to check for encumbrances.
- if the property to be purchased is a house or a flat, check whether there is a building permit and, if completed, whether there is a certificate of approval for the building obtained from the appropriate authority.
- When entering into a contract, check that there are proper securities and provisions ensuring:
- The eventual transfer of the property and the issue of a title deed free from any encumbrances;
- That the contract has provisions regarding the securing of relevant permissions from the authorities by the Developer;
- That possession is delivered to the purchaser upon execution of the contract where the building is completed and, if not completed, upon completion;
- Ensure that the contract is signed by the seller in the presence of two witnesses and that are all competent to contract (including the witnesses);
- If the seller is a company, ensure that all corporate actions have been properly taken for the valid execution of the contract.
- As soon as practicable after the execution of the contract ensure that:
- An application is submitted to the local District Administration Office along with all necessary supporting documents for obtaining the permission of the Council of Ministers (where is required);
- A copy of the contract is lodged with the District Lands Office within two months of its execution, thus ensuring that the contract becomes a land charge on the property and that it may be specifically performed.
- Consult with your lawyer if any additional measures are necessary under the specific circumstances
This document was written and prepared by Mr. Michael Mantis of: Mantis & Athinodorou – Advocates & Legal Consultants, Paphos, Cyprus.