When you instruct a lawyer in Cyprus you trust them to include everything that needs to be included in the contract purchasing the property to protect you. Sometimes it is only when things go wrong that you realise that something extra could have been added into the contract to protect you.
As a non-specialist it can be very difficult to know which clauses need to be in the contract. Here are my top ten clauses that your lawyer should be trying to get in:
1 – A clause stating that the builder will build the property according to the law and the planning permit and building license
If the Property is not built according to the construction laws and regulations and the permit, the separate title can not be issued and transferred into your name!
2 – A clause stating that the builder will take all necessary steps to get final approval of construction from the authorities.
Once again – without this in place – title cannot be transferred to you. It is essential the builder takes this step.
3 – A clause guaranteeing the property
The Builder should give you a guarantee regarding the good workmanship of the property as well as a clause giving a guarantee against structural defects. The length of time these guarantees lasts for will vary from builder to builder – but you need to know your lawyer is pushing for the maximum that developer will give.
4 – A clause guaranteeing that by the completion date the property and project will be substantially completed
You have not purchased your dream home and spent all of that money to be stuck in the middle of a building site – or worse still – in an unfinished home.
5 – A clause declaring that by completion or transfer the property will be mortgage free
By the time you pay the final instalment on the house or take the Title Deeds, you need to know there will be no mortgages, charges or encumbrances over the Property.
6 – A clause stipulating the prices of any extras
The contract needs to be very clear on what exactly is included in the purchase price. If there are additional extras you may want to request – the price of these needs to be set when you sign your contract – whilst you still have the bargaining power!!
7 – A clause to cover late delivery
It is very upsetting for most buyers if they are told that the property is going to be delivered late- however, it is some consolation if you know that your contract states a clear and fair rate of compensation as agreed damages.
8 – A clause to cover cancellation and resale
Your contract needs a clause in it to say that if (in between depositing the contract at the Land Registry and transfer of title into your name) you wish to sell the property (through a method known as a cancellation agreement) then the builder will be obliged to sign the paperwork and if he is going to charge for this – the cost needs to be set in the contract. This is one of the biggest traps purchasers in Cyprus fall into – be sure your lawyer covers this point.
9 – A clause to allow inspection by an independent surveyor before delivery is accepted
An Independent Surveyor can confirm that the property has been substantially completed and can also prepare the snagging list as mentioned below.
10 – A clause stipulating money is held back until a snagging list is prepared
Any new build property is going to have some little issues when you initially move in – and most people expect this. However, you need to know that these are going to be sorted out promptly and efficiently so that you can enjoy your new home to the full extent as fast as possible. Withholding a small sum at this stage can give a real incentive to get the snagging list sorted as soon as possible!
Of course, there are many important clauses to be included in a contract when you buy something as important and expensive as a property – however, as a minimum your lawyer should be insisting on inclusion of the above clauses for you where relevant.
By Louise Zambartas LLB (Hons) Law
Louise is a dual qualified practising English Solicitor and Cyprus Advocate and has established The Law Offices of Louise Zambartas; she lives and works in Limassol. I am grateful to Louise for allowing me to publish her article; I urge all Cyprus property buyers to follow her sound advice.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be publishing more hints and tips by Louise. In the next one, she’ll be giving us her top legal tips on pitfalls to avoid when buying property in Cyprus.
The Law Office of Louise Zambartas is a specialist team of Cyprus Property Lawyers comprising English Solicitors and Cyprus Barristers dedicated to dealing with conveyancing in Cyprus and associated legal work.