The Legal System in Cyprus in accordance with the conveyance process of property is generally based on UK legislation but in the field of immovable property the Cyprus legislation and the legal system is different than the one applied in the UK. The provisions of the Constitution of Cyprus safeguard the protection of ownership, the ultimate Law of Cyprus which established the equality of all persons in respect of human rights. The Land Registry System of Cyprus maintains an accurate and effective registry of all the immovable property and land, as well as records of all the transactions including the acceptance of submission of Property Purchase Agreements.
The conveyance process is fairly complicated and involves the legal jargon found in the Title Deeds, checking the background of the property and various title searches usually by the lawyer acting on behalf of the buyer. The system of conveyance is designed to ensure that a buyer secures the legal title to ‘immovable property’ with all the rights associated with that ‘immovable property’ and is notified of any restrictions in advance of the purchase.
The process starts with an offer made by the vendor and the acceptance of the buyer by signing the contract for property reservation. Both parties must be legally able to sell or transfer the property before the process begins. Legal advice should be sought at this stage because the buyer’s legal advisor will review and possibly amend the contract of sale safeguarding the interests of the buyer as well as carry out a number of investigations as to the documentation and licenses of the property.
Once both parties have signed the contract, four copies are made and stamped at the District Land’s Office. One of them is stamped with the word ‘Original’ and will be kept by the buyer’s lawyer on the buyer’s behalf. The remaining 3 copies are stamped with a currency stamp and certified as true copies of the original. One of the copies of the Sale Agreement is registered with the District Land Registry Office for reasons of ‘Specific Performance’. If there is a mortgage provider then a copy of the Agreement is given to it and the final copy is given to the seller.
The ‘Law of Specific Performance’ stipulates that once the Sale Agreement is deposited with the District Land Registry Office and providing that both parties are in a position to give effect to the transfer, then up to 6 months of notification can apply by the buyer to the seller, after which the seller must effect the transfer. Once the Agreement is deposited with the District Land Registry, the seller cannot sell it to someone else and the seller cannot renege on the agreement. When the Sale Agreement has been registered to the District Land Registry Office, the transfer fees are calculated on the property value on the date that the Agreement was signed.
In order to transfer freehold ownership into the name of the purchaser, transfer fees must be paid. The buyer/transferee is responsible for the payment of the transfer fees and it is payable to the Government at the time of the transfer of the property and the issue of a title deed in the name of the buyer. The property cannot be transferred into the name of the purchaser until the relevant Government authority has issued the Title Deed.