Legal and tax guidelines on buying and selling property in Cyprus
Find out how much taxes and fees you pay when buying and selling home. Also, learn what how much taxes and fees you pay per year for owning a property in Cyprus.
1. ACQUISITION OF IMMOVABLE PROPERTY IN CYPRUS
Cypriots & E.U citizens living in Cyprus
Under Cyprus Law, Cypriots or persons of Cypriot origin as well as E.U citizens who have their permanent residence in Cyprus are allowed to acquire any property without any restrictions.
The residential status is ascertained by the District offices and is obtained when a person resides in Cyprus for a total period of 185 days per year or more.
E.U citizens not permanently living in Cyprus & Non E.U citizens
Non-EU citizens are given permission to buy only one apartment or one house or a building plot or land. In the case of EU citizens the property size can be unlimited and in the case of non-E.U citizens it can be up to 4,014 square meters (the equivalent of three donums)
E.U are treated as equal to Cypriot citizens, regardless of their residential status.
After the permission has been obtained (see point 3 below) and the property has been registered in the name of the purchaser, there are no other restrictions for foreigners who are the owners of immovable property in Cyprus. They may sell or dispose of the property as they wish. The foreigner owner of an immovable property can sell it and buy another and as any bona fide repeat purchaser will be granted a subsequent permit.
2. MAKING AN OFFER
Buying a property in Cyprus is very similar to buying property in the UK. You make an offer and if it is accepted, it is normal to give a nominal deposit (between €1,000 and €5,000) to reserve the property, bind the owner, have the property taken off the market and secure it at that day’s price.This in Cyprus, unlike the UK, is legally binding and so “gazumping” does not exist. Contracts are consequently drawn up and this process takes only a few days. Upon signing of the contract, the buyer must pay at least 20%-30% of the value of the property. The remaining sum is paid according to the terms agreed with the seller. Usually for new off-plan properties the payment of includes periodic installments until delivery. If is a resale property the balance is paid in one single payment at the same day when the title deed is transferred on the purchasers name and the purchaser takes possession at the same time.
3. ACQUISITION OF REAL ESTATE PROPERTY IN CYPRUS INCLUDES:
- Transfer of title deed
- Long lease for periods of more than 33 years
- The acquisition of shares in a company that owns immovable property, if such acquisition results in the company becoming controlled by foreigners
- The establishment of a trust or any type of set-up, which is connected with the ownership of real estate, for the benefit of a foreigner, including tax benefits
4. SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE – SAFEGUARD FOR THE BUYER
Specific Performance Law safeguards a purchaser of immovable property from a transaction between a seller and a purchaser, especially when the purchaser is not allowed to immediately transfer the acquired property onto his/her name even though payment of the consideration has been effected.
According to the provisions of Specific Performance Law, the purchaser of immovable property may secure the transfer of the acquired property onto his/her name by depositing a duly signed and stamped copy of the contract at the Land Registry, within two (2) months from the signing of the contract.
By depositing the contract in the Land Registry, the purchaser prevents the owner from transferring the property elsewhere or changing it, for as long as the contract is valid and legally effective. No burdens, charges or encumbrances can affect the right of specific performance after the contract has been deposited with the Land Registry.
Depositing a copy of the contract to the Land Registry gives the purchaser the right to seek “specific performance” of the terms and conditions of the contract and thus to register the property onto the purchaser’s name, even though the owner may not be willing to accommodate such procedures.
5. FEES, CHARGES AND PROPERTY TAXES
The transfer of immovable property into a purchaser’s name can be effected once permission to acquire the property has been granted from the Council of Ministers/Pertinent Authority (where that is necessary – see point 3 above).When registering the property under his/her name at the District Land Office, the purchaser will be liable to pay the following transfer fees, calculated according to the property’s market value at the time of signing of the contracts:
Check our Transfer Fees Calculator to find out the amount of tax based on your property purchase price
Unless otherwise stipulated in the contract, the purchaser is liable for the payment of stamp duty at the rate of 0.15% of the value of the property up to €170,000 and 0.20% for over €170,000
The contract should be stamped within a period of thirty (30) days from signing. Although the absence of the revenue stamp on a contract does not render it void, the revenue stamp must be paid before depositing the contract to the Land Registry for specific Performance purposes (see point 4 above) The stamp duty plus a fine will be payable when the document is produced to the Land Office for the transfer of ownership of property, to any Government department or to the court. In order to avoid the payment of a fine, which could be substantial, the documents should be stamped within 30 days of their signing.
Check our Stamp Duties Calculator to find out the amount of tax based on your property purchase price
IMMOVABLE PROPERTY TAX
There is no immovable property tax. The tax is abolished from the 1st if January 2017.
IMMOVABLE PROPERTY (TOWNS) TAX
The registered owner of immovable property is also subject to minor taxation under other laws, such as municipal or village regulations.These taxes arecalculated according to the area and the size of the property and cover sewerage, refuse collection, street lights. The charges range in total from €80 to €170 per annum.
CAPITAL GAINS TAX
Capital Gains tax is levied at the rate of 20% on gains arising from the disposal of immovable property or the disposal of shares of companies the assets of which consist mainly on immovable property.
As a general rule, the gain is calculated as the difference between the sales proceeds and the original cost of the property. Interest on payments paid for the acquisition, additions to the property and inflation rate, as published yearly by the Government, are deducted form fees.
Capital gains tax as a whole has minimal effect, since the appreciation of values, coupled with the following allowances and inflation, tend to leave little excess.
Individuals are entitled to the following lifetime allowances on Capital Gains Tax:
- The first €17,086.00 of gains arising from the disposal of any property are exempted.
- The first €25,629.02 of gains arising from the disposal of agricultural land by the farmer are exempted (subject to certain conditions).
- The first €85,430.10 of gains arising from the disposal of a house used by the owner for his/her own habitation are exempted (subject to certain conditions).
The above allowances are not available separately and an individual claiming a combination of the above allowances is only allowed a maximum lifetime allowance of € 85,430.10
Cyprus residents and companies registered in Cyprus are subject to Capital Gains Tax when disposing their property, wherever it is, in Cyprus or overseas. However, under certain conditions, Capital Gains Tax can be reduced significantly if the purchase of the immovable property is effected through a Cyprus registered company.
The following categories of immovable property disposals are exempted from the Capital Gains Tax:
1. Transfers by reason of death
2. Gifts between relatives up to third degree of kindred
3. Gifts to limited liability companies when, at the time of transfer and for a period of five years following the transfer, all the shareholders of the company are members of the family of the donor
4. Gifts by family companies to their members, but only in cases where the property transferred, was obtained by the company as a gift
5. Exchanges of immovable properties
6. Compulsory acquisitions
7. Gifts to charitable institutions
8. Gifts to charitable institutions or the Republic of Cyprus
Estate duty was abolished as from 1/1/2000.
Communal expenses are usually payable monthly or quarterly, in advance, and vary from development to development depending on the area and type of the property. They cover an immovable property’s owner share of the cost of cleaning and maintaining common areas and gardens, communal swimming pool expenses, electricity in common areas, management fees and repairs.
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