- Sales Agreements
- Acquisition of Property by Aliens
- Property Management for Non Residents
- Estate Planning and Administrations
- Wills, Probate and Re-sealing of Estate Administration
The location of the island of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean at the crossroads of the Middle East, Africa and Europe, its protective legal system, its superb infrastructure, and its excellent climate are some of the reasons which have led Cyprus to become attractive to foreign investors seeking to invest in real estate.
There are a number of laws which regulate matters relating to the acquisition of immovable property in Cyprus and these laws can be divided into two categories:
I. General Legislation: this category consists of a number of laws, which although not directly regulating matters pertaining to immovable property, they contain provisions applicable to rights which are relevant to immovable property.
The main laws in the category of General Legislation are the following:
1. The constitution of Cyprus
2. The Contract Law, Cap 149
3. The Civil Procedure Law, Cap 6 and Rules
4. The Stamp Law, Cap 228
5. The Movement of Capital Law, No. 115/ (I)/2003
- The Constitution of Cyprus
The Constitution of Cyprus safeguards, inter alia, the fundamental right of ownership of property. Any restrictions to the use of one’s property, such as compulsory acquisition of immovable property, are made subject to the Compulsory Acquisition Law, No. 15/62. The Compulsory Acquisition Law, No. 15/62 provides that such compulsory acquisition of immovable property shall only take place where public interest demands it and by showing just cause, and upon payment of compensation at the prevailing market price.Aliens owning immovable property in the Republic of Cyprus have access to the same rights and remedies as the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus in the event that any of their property rights have been infringed upon.
- The Contract Law
The Contract Law regulates commercial transactions at large.
- The Civil Procedure Law
The Civil Procedure Law stipulates for the procedure of the Courts in resolving disputes arising out of any transaction, including, those transactions which pertain to immovable property.
- The Stamp Duty Law
The Stamp Duty Law enunciates, inter alia, the stamp duty which is payable on contracts relating to the sale and acquisition of immovable property and this is as follows:
- For a purchase price of up to CYP 100,000 (Cyprus pounds one hundred thousand), the revenue stamp is CYP 1.50 (Cyprus pounds one fifty) per thousand
- For a purchase price above CYP 100,000, the revenue stamp which is payable is CYP 2.00 (Cyprus pounds two) on every thousand over CYP 100,000Failure to pay the stamp duty does not render a contract of sale void but such a contract can neither be used in Court proceedings nor for the transfer of ownership of the immovable property in the Land Registry until the appropriate stamp duty is paid.
- The Movement of Capital Law115 (I)/2003
The Movement of Capital Law provides that all movement of capital and payments between residents of the Republic of Cyprus, and residents of the European Union member states or third countries, may be carried out without restrictions. This is, however, subject to restrictions being in place for citizens of third countries who embark upon direct investments in Cyprus, including the acquisition of immovable property.Upon the disposition of immovable property in Cyprus, foreigners may immediately export an amount equal to the sum brought into Cyprus for the purchase of such property, upon proof that such amount emanated from external funds. Any profit may be exported at a rate of CYP 10,000 per annum plus accrued interests.In accordance with its policy of harmonization with the acquis communautaire, and in order to encourage foreign investment in the Republic of Cyprus, the Government has abolished all restrictions on the percentage of foreign participation in most enterprises in Cyprus provided that the foreign investors are citizens of the European Union.
II. Specific Legislation: this consists of laws which are concerned specifically with transactions on immovable property
The main laws in the category of Specific Legislation are the following:
- The Acquisition of Immovable Property (Aliens) Law, Cap 109 (as amended)
- Capital Gains Tax Law 52/1980
- The Sale of Land (Specific Performance) Law Cap 232
- Acquisition of Immovable Property (Aliens) Law Cap 109 as amended (“AIP Law”)
The AIP Law sets out some limitations for the acquisition of immovable property by aliens. The term alien is defined as any person not being a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus and includes a local company controlled by non-residents, a foreign company, and a trust which has been created in favour of an alien person. It does not, however, include citizens of member states of the European Union residing in the Republic of Cyprus, or companies based in Cyprus which are controlled mainly by citizens of member states.Under the AIP Law no alien can acquire immovable property unless the prior permission of the Council of Ministers has been obtained. Permission shall be granted to a bona fide alien who is seeking to acquire a flat, a house, or land (not exceeding three donums) in which he/she shall erect a house which shall be used as a dwelling by the buyer and his family.Members of the family of an alien who has acquired immovable property in the Republic of Cyprus may also acquire their own property in the Republic of Cyprus, provided that they are financially and residentially independent from the original buyer. Permission to acquire property will be given for personal use only and not for the purposes of buying immovable property for commercial purposes.
Following the accession of Cyprus in the European Union, citizens of the European Union may acquire immovable property in the Republic of Cyprus without the permission of the Council of Ministers but the abolition of the requirement of the permit is applicable only for the acquisition of land and building sites, or for investment purposes. The restriction remains in place for the acquisition of houses and flats if such an acquisition is considered as a secondary residence, i.e. residence other than the permanent residence.
- The Capital Gains Tax Law52/1980
Capital gains tax is levied at the rate of 20% on gains realised from the sale of immovable property, and this includes gains from the disposal of shares in private companies which own immovable property.The Capital Gains Tax Law exempts, inter alia, the following categories of disposals from Capital Gains Tax:
- Gifts between relatives up to the third degree of kindred
- Gifts to limited companies whose shareholders are family members of the donor and remain as such for at least five years after the gift was made
- Gifts by family companies to their shareholders, provided that the property given was originally acquired as a gift
- Gifts made to charitable institutions or to the Republic of Cyprus
- Exchange of immovable properties
- The Sale of Land (Specific Performance) Law Cap 232 (“Specific Performance Law)”
Under the Specific Performance Law, a purchaser of immovable property may secure the remedy of specific performance by depositing a duly stamped copy of the contract of sale of land with the Land Registry within two months for the date of its execution, thus preventing the vendor from transferring the property to another person or charging it in favour of any financial institution.