On 20 October 2006 a criminal code amendment relating to property came into effect. Under the amendment, buying, selling, renting, promoting or mortgaging a property without the permission of the owner (the person whose ownership is registered with the Republic of Cyprus Land Registry, including Greek Cypriots displaced from northern Cyprus in 1974), is a criminal offence. This also applies to agreeing to sell, buy or rent a property without the owner’s permission. The maximum prison sentence is seven years. Furthermore, the amendment to the law states that any attempt to undertake such a transaction is a criminal offence and could result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years. This law is not retrospective, so will not criminalise transactions that took place before 20 October 2006. Documents relating to the purchase of property in northern Cyprus will be presumed by the Cypriot authorities to relate to the illegal transfer of Greek Cypriot property and may be subject to confiscation when crossing the Green Line. Anyone in possession of these documents may be asked to make a statement to the Cypriot authorities and may face criminal proceedings under the 20 October 2006 amendment. The full implications of this legislation are not yet clear. Any enquiries about its scope should be made to the Cypriot representation in the UK.
Before purchasing property anywhere in Cyprus you are strongly advised to seek qualified legal advice from a source that is independent from the seller.
Property issues are closely linked to the political situation. There are a number of potential practical, financial and legal implications, particularly for those considering buying property in the north. These relate to the non-recognition of the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", the suspension of EU law in northern Cyprus, the possible consequences for property of a future settlement, and the many thousands of claims to ownership from people displaced in 1974. There is also a risk that, as a result of the disputed ownership of many of the properties, purchasers could face legal proceedings in the courts of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as attempts to enforce judgments from these courts elsewhere in the EU, including the UK.
Separately, potential purchasers should also ensure that they are fully aware of the specific rules imposed by the administration on foreigners purchasing property in the north including the requirement to obtain consent to the transfer of property.
Time share and property salespersons tout for business in Cyprus, especially in the Paphos area. You should read the fine print very carefully and seek legal advice before signing any kind of contract. Under Cyprus law, purchasers of time shares are entitled to a 15-day “cooling off” period during which they should receive a full refund of any money paid if they change their mind.