CYPRUS is a popular destination for British nationals wishing to retire or purchase a holiday home overseas. Many British nationals have purchased property in Cyprus without too much difficulty.
However, the process of buying land or a property in Cyprus can have many potential pitfalls. The British High Commission advises potential purchasers to exercise extreme caution when buying a property if the title deeds are not readily available, as to do so means that your property could be at risk.
It is common practice for developers to take out mortgages on land or property. If you sign a contract with a developer and there is already a mortgage, loan or claim placed upon it by the developer or landowner, then you are likely to become liable for that mortgage should the builder, developer or landowner declare bankruptcy.
You should request that your lawyer checks for mortgages placed on the land. If you are made aware of a mortgage prior to signing a contract it is unlikely that you will obtain the deeds in your name until the mortgage is paid off. Lawyers are not required to check for mortgages automatically although good lawyers should do this as a matter of course.
In 2011 the Republic of Cyprus Government introduced a Specific Performance Law to give a contract of sale precedence over any pre-existing mortgage however we still strongly recommend that you check no mortgages have been placed on the land prior to purchase to ensure you do not run into potential difficulties at a later date.
Other issues most frequently raised by British nationals include:
- Lawyers also acting for vendors or builders therefore not independent.
- Building taking place without the correct planning permissions/building permits (e.g. electricity or water).
- Fluctuations in currency and interest rates affecting mortgages.
- Payment plans/fees not being included in the initial contract.
- Difficulty in obtaining certificates of final completion (without which deeds cannot be issued).
- Difficulty in obtaining title deeds.
- Difficulty in obtaining redress after problems are identified.
With all property purchases, we strongly recommend that you seek your own independent legal advice. A list of English speaking lawyers can be obtained through the lawyer’s link.
If you have purchased a property/land and are encountering difficulties, you should seek qualified independent legal advice on your rights and methods of redress.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British High Commission are not able to offer legal advice or become involved with disputes between private parties. We can, however, direct British nationals to organisations who may be able to help and we can raise systemic issues with local authorities.
The High Commission publishes answers to Frequently Asked Questions about buying property.
You may also wish to check on the AIPP – Association of International Property Professionals website to see if the company/legal advisor you are wishing to deal with are members.
Crown Copyright 2012