The real estate market in Cyprus was increased in the past few years and is still increasing. Even though developers as well as the real estate agents are reliable and the legal framework on immovable property in Cyprus is well-established and regulated, as in every country, the complexity of the legislation and the procedures which need to be considered make it essential to obtain a reliable and efficient legal advice at the initial stage in order to avoid unforeseen pitfalls and undesirable complications in the future.
The government of the Republic of Cyprus has introduced a program allowing owners of property in Cyprus and their families to obtain permanent residence permits. The program of headquartering and relocation is also an attractive program for the organisations that they wish to move their headquarters in Cyprus by giving a lot of benefits to their employees and facilitate the process of the registration of the organisations and the employees of organisations.
As we said above, Cyprus is also an option for families and retired persons as it offers a high quality of education systems, healthcare, relatively low cost of living and excellent climate, are some of the factors that families and retired persons chose Cyprus. Also, the retired persons enjoy very low taxation of pension income received from abroad, with the first EUR3420 per year being tax-free and the remaining amount is subject to 5% tax. Double tax treaties between Cyprus and the country of origin of the retiree may also be applied. It is worth to be noted that Cyprus has been entered into Double Tax Treaties with more than 40 countries.
All land in Cyprus is required to be registered and the registered owner is provided with the title deed by the Land Registry which includes the details and the information of the land. Therefore, as a first step the buyer must request from the seller’s side to provide him with the title deed of the property. which reveals important information, such as the existence of any mortgages or charges or court judgements against the property. Secondly, a search at the Land Registry is always required because it reveals information which does not appear on the titled deed such as if the house built on the plot has received a certificate of final approval.
In case that a separate title deed has not been issued for the property, the following documents must be requested:
- Town planning permit;
- Building permit;
- Certificate of final approval.
The Certificate of Final Approval will be issued only in case that there are no illegalities which will be contradicted with the building permit. The certificate of final approval is proof that the building has been constructed in accordance with the town planning and building permit.
It is essential to follow all the formalities, to obtain all the certificates and paid all the fees, to complete the process of the transfer of the property and to obtain the title deed by the Land Registry. The parties to a transaction (the seller and the buyer) must personally present at the District office of Land Registry, or their lawyers or their authorized representative for the finalization of the transfer of the property and the issuance of the respective title deed.
Prior to proceed with the negotiation and drafting of the sale and purchase agreement buyer’s side has to check if the property to be acquired is mortgaged and then it is essential to request a bank waiver from the mortgage bank for which amount, they are willing to lift the specific mortgage.
The amount indicated in the waiver agreement must be paid directly in the loan bank account of the seller and only any amount over and above the amount indicated in the waiver agreement will be paid to any other bank account indicated by the seller.
The most common mistake for the buyers is to sign the seller’s standard terms without really considering or negotiating the implication of the agreement which is naturally in favour of the seller.
The buyer has the right to negotiate certain terms if it is necessary, and it is recommended for the buyer to seek legal advice by Cyprus lawyer who can review the terms of agreement and negotiate on his behalf. It is worth to be noted that a lawyer shall not represent both seller and buyer as that creates a conflict of interest. The lawyer must act independently with integrity on behalf of its client.
The seller is obliged to settle all taxes in relation to the property, such as Local Authority Taxes, in the period between the time of signing of the agreement and the transfer of the title and to obtain a certificate of payment of liabilities by the sewage Board, Municipal fees and Community fees.
When all tax clearances are available, and all parties signed the transfer forms, and these forms are stamped by the competent government departments then the transfer of titled deed can be completed.
It is worth to be noted that before the transfer of property, a buyer should pay stamp duty on the agreement, and which should be deposited with Land Registry. From the moment that a sale and purchase agreement/assignment agreement is deposited with the Land Registry it creates a charge on the property for the purpose of priority. That means that the buyer has a right over the property and in that way a subsequent third party cannot be registered as the owner of the specific property. Also, this prevents the seller to mortgage, charge, resell or intervene with the buyer’s rights on the property.
CTA Law Firm team provides legal advice and guidance to numerous purchasers both Cypriot and non-Cypriot, to deal with all aspects of acquisition of property in Cyprus. We help the clients to obtain necessary permits, approvals and certificates. We also provide comprehensive tax and succession plan advice, in order to ensure that the acquisition of property is structured in the most appropriate way according to the personal needs of the purchaser.