Buying Property In Cyprus
Cyprus, which is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, is not over commercialised, has spectacular scenery, easy access and its enviable climate makes it a popular place to visit and live.
Acquisition of immovable property
The process of purchasing property in Cyprus by non-Cypriots is relatively simple compared to many other countries. This is because the Land Registry system (which was established in 1875 based originally on British standards) with its updates throughout the years is one of the most sophisticated in the world.
Permission to acquire immovable property
When Cyprus joined the European Union in May 2004, most of the procedural restrictions upon buying property were lifted for EU citizens and in May 2009, all of the remaining restrictions were lifted in relation to non-EU citizens.
Under the current legislation, for immovable property to be registered in the name of a non-Cypriot purchaser, authorisation is required from the Council of Ministers, which is granted as a matter of course to all bona fide purchasers if there is proof that the purchase was made using foreign funds which were imported to Cyprus. The application must be submitted after the settlement of the purchase price of the property. In the meantime, purchasers can take possession of their property without any restrictions and live in it or rent it out since they are the legal owners of the property according to the law.
When non–Cypriot purchasers decide to buy immovable property in Cyprus, they have the same rights as Cypriot citizens. The contract of sale signed between the Vendor and the Purchaser binds both parties to perform according to their respective obligations. The seller or one of the sellers who sign the agreement must be the registered owner of the property or the part of the property including the segmentation which is to be sold. Upon the signing of the contract, the purchaser is liable to pay stamp duty (see below) and then, it is advisable for the contract of sale to be registered within 2 months of the contract date, at the District Land and Surveys Department in the region where the property is situated. The deposit fees are payable by the Purchaser, the amount being €50.00.
This is because it provides additional safeguards for the purchasers and creates the so called "right to specific performance" in favour of the purchasers. By registering the contract of sale with the District Land and Surveys Department, the purchaser is considered as the beneficial owner of the property until the title deed is issued.
When the title deeds are issued, they are registered in the name of the purchaser and filed in the Registry archives, which are confidential and are not published or made public under any circumstances.
The Sale of Land (Specific Performance Law) Law 81(I)/2011 provides safeguards for sellers and buyers of property – the law requires the sale and purchase agreement to be submitted to the Cyprus Land Registry. The deposit of the agreement to the Land Registry is considered as an encumbrance on the specific property. If the property is part of a jointly owned property, for example, an apartment, flat or a percentage of land, then an agreement must be entered into between the joint owners which will allow the sale of the property. the joint owners of the communal areas of the property will sign a distribution statement which will be deposited to the District Land Registry, this distribution will be taken into consideration upon the issuance of the title deed. In the event of an issue or non performance arising, after the submission of the agreement an application can be brought before a competent court in Cyprus, the court could issue an order requiring the parties to the agreement to perform their respective obligations under the agreement. The application to the competent court for the issues of an order for Specific Performance may take several forms, for instance it may be an order requiring the completion of the sale and purchase agreement and/or any clause in the agreement or it may be an order to remove a mortgage attached to the property, subject to the court being satisfied that the debt for which the mortgage is made has been satisfied. For the avoidance of doubt, immovable property or property includes land, buildings, fixtures, cartels affixed to land, rights and easements attaching to land. The law also provides that the agreement must be made in writing and incorporate the contracting parties details, a description of the property and it must be signed by each party to the agreement.
Contrary to the risks inherent in the purchase of the property in some countries, Cyprus has never been involved in the nationalisation of any sector of the economy or in the expropriation of property owned by non–Cypriots in line with the Cyprus government's efforts to create a favourable climate for such investments.
Upon the signing of the contract of sale, the purchaser is liable to make a one-off stamp duty payment, depending on the contractual purchase price. Payment is due within 30 days of the contract being signed, otherwise a fine will be imposed.
Upon the transfer of the title deed to a FREEHOLD property and registration in the purchaser's name, the District Land and Surveys Department will charge transfer fees, which are based on the market value of the immovable property at the time of purchase and which must be paid once only by the purchaser. The rates are on a graduated scale and are calculated as follows:
NB: For properties owned in joint names, eg. by a couple or two individuals, the transfer fees are charged on 50% of the property value for each (as the purchase value is divided into two parts), providing an advantage for any property value exceeding a value of €85,430.00.
Please see the following example:
For a property purchased for €153,774.00 in the name of one purchaser, the transfer fees payable are €5,980.10:
For a property purchased for €153,774.00 in the names of two purchasers, the transfer fees payable are €4,613.22:
Inheritance tax has been abolished and is no longer imposed in Cyprus.
VAT payable on property
Since Cyprus' accession to the European Union (on 1 May 2004), VAT on properties has been introduced. Properties, the town planning application for which was filed before 1 May 2004 are VAT-exempt. Properties which are used, houses/buildings are exempted from the VAT rules.
Capital gains tax
Should the purchaser decide to sell the property, capital gains tax will be payable at the rate of 20% on the gain. However, the first €17,086.00 of the gain is tax-exempt. If the property is jointly owned by a couple, then €34,172.00 of the gain is tax-exempt.
In a case whereby the property has been used by the Vendor as a residence for at least 5 years prior to the sale, then up to €85,430.00 is tax-exempt.
Double taxation treaties
Cyprus has Double Taxation Treaties with many European and other countries1. The main purpose of these treaties is to avoid the double taxation of income earned in any of these countries.
Selling of property
In case the purchasers want to sell the property before the title deeds are issued they have the absolute right to do so as they are deemed to be the beneficial owners of the Property. The contract between them and the Vendor will be cancelled and a new one between the Vendor and the new purchaser will be issued.
Law No.81 (I) 2011, provided that an assignment of rights and duties under an existing contract of sale can take place through an agreement signed by the Assignor, Assignee and the Vendor or by the Assignor and Assignee. The fee for the deposit of an assigned agreement at the District Land and Survey Department is €1000 which is payable by the Assignee.
Requirements for a loan application with regard to individuals
Our law firm can handle all legal formalities on behalf of the prospective purchaser and guide them through all the stages of property acquisition.
Specifically, our services include, inter alia:
1. Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Malta, Mauritius, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Syria, Tajikistan, United Kingdom, United States, Serbia.