The Legal Issues

property law in nicosia, cyprus

Buying a property in Nicosia gives you the opportunity to abandon ship in the UK and relocate to a sunnier, warmer, more relaxed environment in Cyprus. Purchasing a new home in Cyprus is relatively easy; a non-Cypriot can buy for their own personal use either an apartment, a house, a villa or a piece of land, and the maximum allowed area for purchase is 4,013 sq.m, although in certain circumstances this can be exceeded.

Certainly, a look at the current financial situation around the world makes many people already in Cyprus believe that the best investment is in real estate. Cyprus has always been an attractive place to live, work, conduct business, invest or have holidays. Being an island in the Mediterranean, with good climate conditions, proper services, low criminality, a country member of the European Union, low taxation, it offers financial stability and many other potentials including real estate.

However, there are still many things that you should do before buying your own property in Nicosia, or anywhere else in Cyprus.

Here are 5 important points that you should consider before making the jump.

1. Check that you can buy this property

There are still certain restrictions on the number of properties you can transfer into your name in Cyprus in certain situations. In short, as an EU citizen you can buy any amount of land/property in Cyprus if you are permanently resident in Cyprus. If you are not permanently resident here you can buy any number of fields/plots and the title deed to one house/flat. A non-EU citizen can only buy one apartment, which is under construction or built on an area not exceeding 4,014 sq.m. All restrictions are due to be lifted by 1 May 2009 for EU nationals, but consideration still needs to be given to your position until they are lifted. It is potentially disastrous to sign contracts to buy property which you cannot have transferred into your name.

2. Get a fixed quotation

Legal fees are often linked to the price of the property you are purchasing in Cyprus. In addition to fees, the lawyer will charge you disbursements (in other words, out of pocket expenses incurred on your behalf). You will also need to pay for the contracts to be stamped and (when you transfer the title into your name) you will need to pay transfer fees. You need to know the cost of all of these steps from the start so that you can budget your purchase effectively and your lawyer should give you this information.

3. Check the title

This is a crucial step! An encumbrances search at the Cyprus Land Registry will confirm that the person selling the property to you is actually the owner and will reveal if any other contract of sale has already been deposited at the Land Registry. Any encumbrance (for example a mortgage) will also be revealed, and this information is needed in order to prepare an appropriate contract.

4. Check the developer is not on the verge of bankruptcy

The financial standing of the developer is important to ascertain, in order to ensure that the company is secure and should not encounter any financial difficulties during the construction of the property. Your lawyer should check this at the Companies Registry before you sign a contract.

5. Get copies of planning permission and building authority licenses

If you are buying a new or recently built property, you will need to be sure that planning permission and building authority licenses have been complied with fully. If there are any problems with non-compliance this could prevent you from transferring the title into your name in the future.

A wealth of information on the legal issues of buying in Cyprus can be found here.