EVERY week I receive enquiries from new clients who have bought a property in Cyprus, then encountered problems with their new home.
Here are my top ten tips on what you should do:
Tip 1 – Hold money back for “snagging”
“Snagging” is the term used for defects, mostly of a minor nature, often found in brand new properties. If you are able to hold some of the purchase price back for snagging, this can be a very effective method to ensure the property is finished to the correct standard. A professional should be appointed to prepare the snagging list – a surveyor may well pick up on points you do not notice.
Tip 2 – Do not sign a delivery acceptance form
Many developers will ask you to sign a form upon delivery of the property stating that you accept it in the state it is delivered. This can hinder any future claim that the property was not properly completed. Do not sign and (if pushed) consult your lawyer on the content of the form.
Tip 3 – If there are no essential utilities – the property is not completed
If the property is not connected to electricity and water then you should refuse to take delivery – the property is not completed. If you accept the property without electricity of its own, you may find yourself “borrowing” a supply for months or even years!!
Tip 4 – Do not stop paying
If you have problems during the build of your property, there can be serious implications if you stop making payments which are due to the developer under the contract. All contracts will contain a clause outlining the interest to be paid to the developer if you make a late payment. Unless the faults in your house are sufficiently serious to constitute a fundamental breach of contract, interest will run on your non-payments. Consult your lawyer if you do think the faults are sufficiently serious to warrant non-payment.
Tip 5 – Consider arbitration
If the developer will agree to the joint instruction of an independent surveyor (at joint cost) then this can be a very good way to agree on any outstanding work due.
Tip 6 – Don’t let it go on indefinitely
If the developer has tried to sort out the problems and is unable to put them right – don’t let him keep trying again and again to fix the issue. This could lead to you being deemed to have accepted the condition of the property. Get a quotation from an independent expert contractor.
Tip 7 – Never pay for repairs
Never agree to pay for any repairs which are caused as a result of poor build. If you do have to pay for an independent contractor to sort something out urgently then make it clear (in writing) to the developer that you intend to claim this money back from him and that you are in no way waiving your legal rights by paying.
Tip 8 – Document everything
Keep written records of everything that happens and never rely on what the developer tells you verbally – get any promises made to fix things in writing.
Tip 9 – Near the end of the contractual guarantee?
If it is getting close to the end of expiry your contractual guarantee and the problems have not yet been fixed, get it in writing from the developer that the defects identified will still be covered by the guarantee – even if it has expired.
Tip 10 – Get a good lawyer
If you have paid the full purchase price and moved in, and then serious problems emerge, you really need to get a good lawyer to sort it out for you. Do not enter into protracted (and fruitless) correspondence with the developer by yourself. It is amazing how many clients score an own goal by mistake during the course of the correspondence!
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 this and her other articles; I urge all those thinking of buying or selling property in Cyprus to follow her sound advice – Editor
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing more hints and tips by Louise. In the next one, she’ll be giving us her top legal tips on avoiding problems with your lawyer 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.