Latest Headlines

Brits buying property in Cyprus get new government advice

THERE ARE RISKS involved with purchasing property on the island of Cyprus. Many British nationals who buy property face problems due to misleading advertising, or because they do not have title deeds, or they have purchased off plan and the property has not been completed, or their property or neighbouring properties have been constructed illegally or taxes have been charged incorrectly.

THE UK Government has recently made some changes to the guidance it issues to UK citizens buying property in Cyprus.

This revised advice can be found on the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website on its Travel Advice for Cyprus page in the General – Purchasing Property section. However, the overall level of advice provided by the FCO renains unchanged.

To help avoid the potential problems associated with purchasing property on the island I urge anyone planning to buy property in Cyprus to take heed of this advice, which I have reproduced below for your convenience:

Purchasing Property

THERE ARE RISKS involved with purchasing property on the island of Cyprus. Many British nationals who buy property face problems due to misleading advertising, or because they do not have title deeds, or they have purchased off plan and the property has not been completed, or their property or neighbouring properties have been constructed illegally or taxes have been charged incorrectly.

THE PROCESS of achieving legal redress in Cyprus can be very protracted compared to the UK. You are strongly advised to proceed with caution and to seek qualified legal advice from a source that is independent from anyone else involved in the transaction, including the seller, before purchasing property anywhere in Cyprus. You should also note that the Cyprus legal system is not the same as that in the UK.

THE OWNERSHIP of many properties is disputed across the island, and particularly in northern Cyprus, with many thousands of claims to ownership of properties from people displaced during the events of 1974.  Purchase of these properties could have serious financial and legal implications.  The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in a number of cases that owners of property in northern Cyprus prior to 1974 should continue to be regarded as the legal owners of that property.  Purchasers could face legal proceedings in the courts of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as attempts to enforce judgements from these courts elsewhere in the EU, including the UK.  Potential purchasers should also consider that a future settlement could have consequences for property they purchase in Cyprus (including possible restitution of the property to its original owners).<

The leaders of both communities have agreed to re-start settlement negotiations. Property issues will clearly form a key part of those negotiations. Until those negotiations are concluded and a comprehensive settlement agreed, the issues and risks identified above will continue to apply and buyers should exercise due caution.

IF YOU have purchased a property and are encountering difficulties, you should seek qualified independent legal advice on your rights and methods of redress.  The foreign and commonwealth office does not offer legal advice or become involved with private property disputes, although we may be able to direct British nationals to organisations who may be able to help.

The website of the British High Commission in Nicosia contains information about purchasing property in Cyprus, including frequently asked questions, and information for people who are experiencing difficulties with a property purchase.  This can be accessed via the following link: http://ukincyprus.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/living-in-cyprus/buying-property.

On 20 October 2006 a criminal code amendment relating to property came into effect. Under the amendment, buying, selling, renting, promoting or mortgaging a property without the permission of the owner (the person whose ownership is registered with the Republic of Cyprus Land Registry, including Greek Cypriots displaced from northern Cyprus in 1974), is a criminal offence. This also applies to agreeing to sell, buy or rent a property without the owner’s permission. The maximum prison sentence is seven years. Furthermore, the amendment to the law states that any attempt to undertake such a transaction is a criminal offence and could result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years. This law is not retrospective, so will not criminalise transactions that took place before 20 October 2006. Documents relating to the purchase of property in northern Cyprus will be presumed by the Cypriot authorities to relate to the illegal transfer of Greek Cypriot property and may be subject to confiscation when crossing the Green Line. Anyone in possession of these documents may be asked to make a statement to the Cypriot authorities and may face criminal proceedings under the 20 October 2006 amendment.  Any enquiries about the full implications and scope of this legislation should be made to the Republic of Cyprus High Commission in London.

TIME SHARE and property salespersons tout for business in Cyprus, especially in the Paphos area. You should read the fine print very carefully and seek legal advice before signing any kind of contract. Under Cyprus law, purchasers of time shares are entitled to a 15-day “cooling off” period during which they should receive a full refund of any money paid if they change their mind.

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • Text size

Back to top