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Calculating communal fees

Communal fees are required to pay for the insurance, maintenance and repair of apartment buildings in Cyprus and other types of building complexes that contain common areas and shared facilities.

Cyprus property communal feesEVERYONE who has acquired an apartment1 in Cyprus is required to pay ‘communal fees’ as soon as they take delivery of the property. These fees are used to pay for the management, insurance, maintenance, operation and repair of the ‘jointly-owned building’ by its Management Committee2.

Communal fees are also payable in other types of building complexes that are jointly-owned with shared facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, etc. that are available for use by those who have acquired units on the development and their guests.

It is obviously in the interests of all purchasers to ensure that the common areas and shared facilities are well maintained and kept in a good state of repair and decoration to prevent them from looking shabby and their units from falling in value (not to mention the quality of life of the present occupants.)

I have received several emails recently on how contributions to the communal fees are calculated. The most common (but incorrect) methods of calculating the fees are:

  • Everyone pays the same.
  • Those with a two bedroom unit pay twice as much as those with a one bedroom unit, etc.
  • Pay according to the percentage shown on their Title Deed on the line ΜΕΡΙΔΙΟ ΣΤΗΝ ΚΟΙΝΟΚΤΗΤΗ ΙΔΙΟΚΤΗΣΙΑ.

The correct method of charging is based on the relative size of each unit in square metres, comprising the enclosed area of the unit plus the covered and uncovered area of balconies, verandas, etc.

Communal fees example

The following shows a jointly-owned building comprising six units. Their enclosed, covered and uncovered areas of each unit have been totalled in column five. The sixth column shows their share of the total area; Unit A’s area of 159 sqm. is 23.35% of the total area of 684 sqm. and so on for the remaining units.

UnitEnclosed
Area
Covered
Area
Uncovered
Area
Total
Area
Communal
Fee
Total Area:684100.00%
A12862515923.25%
B8271310214.91%
C8232511016.08%
D9041210615.50%
E9041811216.37%
F783149513.89%

If the Management Committee sets the annual budget at €2,500, the purchaser(s) of unit:

  • A would pay 23.25% of €2,500 – €581.14
  • B would pay €372.81
  • C would pay €402.05
  • D would pay €387.43
  • E would pay €409.36
  • F would pay €347.22

Obtaining the information

The information needed for those with Title Deeds is straightforward:

Follow my guide at Online property valuations revisited.

When you print the details by clicking ‘Print‘ in the Identification Results window, a small new browser window is displayed, which contains details of all the units. Copy and paste the contents of this window into a spreadsheet, deleted the lines above ‘B. REGISTRATION ON PARCEL’ and you’re ready to go.

For those without Title Deeds you will need to get the information needed from your developer or the Land Registry. However if the developer has yet to divide the building(s) into individual units or if his division application is languishing in the Land Registry you may only be able to obtain the enclosed area of the property or the number of bedrooms.

Notes

1 When a building consists of at least five units, even if the building with all its units has been acquired by single owner, it constitutes a jointly-owned property.

2 Each jointly-owned building must (by law) have a Management Committee for the regulation and management of its affairs.

Further reading

Law and Regulations for jointly-owned buildings in English – The Immovable Property (Tenure, Registration and Valuation) (Amendment) Law of 1993 – 6(1) of 1993

Readers' comments

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  • John Bentley says:

    We are the owners of a town house in a complex of nine almost identical properties that share a swimming pool and some common walkway and parking areas etc. We have a management committee that runs pretty well however one of the properties has not contributed to the annual fees for at least the last four years and the remainder of the complex owners have paid an extra amount each year to cover this.

    The property owners have apparently ‘given the keys back to the developer’ around five years ago and the property has stood unused and unmaintained ever since, apart from the garden area of the house which has been looked after by the complex gardener. This was done due to the fact the fruit trees in the garden attracted vermin etc. As Treasurer I have been keeping an account for non-payment of fees which is now around 5000 EURO in arrears.

    As far as we can ascertain a bank is now the owner of this property as there is an outstanding mortgage however hopefully one day the property shall be sold. My question is from a legal perspective can we as residents Committee put a claim into the bank ref. the communal charge annual charge and the collection of the arrears, which hopefully could be paid from any proceeds from the sale of the property in future?

    Additionally were not exactly certain which bank has the charge on the property as the developer has not been forthcoming with this information and we are certain he knows as he was requesting the other property owners if they had any contact details for the owner of the empty property as the bank were trying to locate and contact them.

    Any advice you can provide would be very welcome, thanks.

    Ed: You need to check that the bank is the registered owner of the property – from what you say this may not be the case. The bank may have lodged a charge (memo) against the property for the unpaid debt, but this does not mean that it is the registered owner.

    If it transpires that the bank is not the registered owner of the property you will need to sue the purchaser for the unpaid communal fees. This can include legal expenses and court costs. If the address of the purchaser is uncertain you will need to engage the services of an agency to track them down (I believe you can also add the cost to the expenses.)

    It may be possible to get the Land Registry to provide contat details of the purchaser – I know they have done this for other committees. You could then check the phone book to see if they’re still at the address (saves the cost of tracking them down.)

    You’ll need a lawyer – I suggest you get in touch with one of the lawyers on the list provided by the British High Commission in Nicosia.

  • Argyro says:

    I am the owner of a holiday apartment. The management committee refused me and others except the members of the committee access to one of the communal showers which is being paid with communal fees. Am I within my rights to refuse to pay the communal fees unless I regain access to use of the communal shower?

    Ed: If you’ve paid your communal fees I can think of no reason why the Management Committee should prevent you from using the communal shower (unless you are using it in preference to your domestic facilities to reduce bills). Please get in contact with me and we can discuss further.

  • Ray Atkinson says:

    Really useful Nigel. Thank you.

    I am trying to set up our development community fees along these lines and have been able to download the areas of each unit exactly as you’ve described.

    Is there an easy way to find out the registered owner of each unit? On asking at the Land Registry last year I was given a form to fill in and told there would be costs involved in getting that information from them.

    Ed: There isn’t an easy way to get the names of the registered owners. You could try asking the developer as he may have copies of the sale contracts showing the names and addresses of the purchasers.

  • Louis Ryan says:

    I am selling my apartment in Limassol and would like to know that if a deposit is received by the selling agent, who holds that money, when capital gains tax becomes payable how exactly is it calculated.

    Ed: Please refer to my article – Capital Gains Tax on the Sale of Property in Cyprus.

    (And please follow the Comment Guidelines in future).

  • Andrew says:

    Hi Nigel. Our fees have two elements, one for day to day maintenance and the other for repairs. The latter is now more than the former and it’s a flat rate so we pay the same for outer 1 bed apt as the 3 bed owners do for theirs. From what you say and what I have read, this isn’t legal. Am I within my rights to dispute it and ask for it to be revised? From what I’ve read, the current arrangement would leave us vulnerable to non-payers using it as an excuse to win their cases if taken to court. Nobody wants that.

    I also note your second point that every jointly owned property needs a committee. We haven’t got one at all. A maintenance company now runs the whole show and also holds the bank accounts. From what you say this isn’t legal either. Do we have to appoint a committee? Even if it’s one or two people is this enough? I’d stand if need be.

    Ed: Every jointly-owned building is required by law to have a Management Committee. The minimum number of committee members is one. If there is more than one there has to be a treasurer. (I would say you need three – chair, treasurer and secretary.)

    You and others prepared to help should form a committee and sort out the payment situation.

    There must have been a committee at some time in the past that contracted the maintenance company.

  • Adam Lomas says:

    thank you for this interesting and very useful description of the requirements for communal costs in apartment blocks, can you please advise what are the requirements for properties, which are not apartments, but detached villas on the same development, which share a common green area and some private facilities, such as roads which are not maintained by the council?

    Ed: The method of calculating Communal Fees for apartments and detached villas with common facilities is exactly the same.

  • Austin Taylor says:

    Thank you as always for a most useful and interesting article as always to add to one back in 2010 I think it was, by Louise Zambartas.

    My latest information is that complexes are actually quite free and have the liberty to draw up their own rules as long as three quarters of the owners express a wish for this to happen.

    And then so long as the way in which communal fees are shared equally with no strings attached, is agreed by a simple majority (51%),and this rule is written into a constitution or other appropriate document,then it is wise to have the constitution notarised and lodged with the appropriate authority.

    By following the above I have been informed it is perfectly acceptable for the owners to divide equally all costs among the number of units irrespective of size or any other limitation on their rights.

    For years I have not understood the existing rationale in the IP Law of 1993 for calculating fees by the square metre.

    Size might matter in some cases, but surely not here and when a law makes no sense, then perhaps it is time for change?

    It would certainly help unite communities instead of the current system that more often than not divides them; a bit like the ill fated Poll Tax did in the UK some years ago?

    It will be interesting to see how others see the situation and might add to the conversation.

    Ed: That’s correct. The basis on which Common Fees are calculated can be changed by amending/revising the standard Regulations contained in the law.

    Changes to the Regulations require a vote in favour of 75% of the ownership (not owners). Ownership is based on the relative 1980 values of the units using the same method for calculating Communal Fees – but fractions less than one-hundreth are discounted.

    The revised Regulations must then be lodged with the Land Registry.

    The ‘default’ method means those with larger units pay more, while those with smaller units pay less.

    By changing the method of calculating Communal Fees to the number of bedrooms or the same fee for all will result in ‘owners’ of units with a lower 1980 values paying more, while those with units of a higher 1980 value will pay less.

    Incidentally Louise Zambartas’ article – Managing Cyprus apartments and building complexes.

  • Grant Bannister says:

    We pay a fee for cleaning and a fee for maintenance not done on square mts but by number of bedrooms. The building is supposed to be painted every 6 years from the fees. After approx 7 years half the building was painted. The half I live in has still not been painted 4 years later. Do I still have to pay my bill?

    Ed: No, you mustn’t stop paying as you’ll merely place an additional burden on those who do pay. I’ll send you an email – please reply with a scan or clear photo of your Title Deed and I’ll be able to work out what your share should be and everyone else on your development. You can then take this to your Management Committee and, if necessary, get support from others on the development to call a general meeting to correct payments. Details of how to call a general meeting are contained in the law and regulations.

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