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Cyprus Property Legislation: Furnishings & Equipment Disputes
The sale of a commercial property that also comes furnished or containing equipment has been creating problems for a number of Cyprus based landlords in the last few months. Parties are having disputes whereby the sale contract of the building contained no inventory which valued each item separately.
The reason for the prevalence of the mistake is due to the fact that when vendors sell movable property over a certain amount, Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the value of the furniture may be owed.
In order to avoid disputes arising, both the vendor and the purchaser should either enter into two connected contractual agreements:
- 2 separate contracts: one for the sale of the property and one for the sale of the furniture/ installed equipment.
- One single contract of sale that lists the price of the property and the furniture separately within it.
When furnishings and interior equipment are included in the purchase price of the property, while it may be cheaper and easier to combine both; although the price of the furniture is expressly stated in the contract, if there is no reference to the price of each separate fitting or item, it is possible for some of the furniture to be removed from the property and a dispute may arise as to what was included in the purchase price.
In such a dispute, the burden of proof lies with the buyer to demonstrate the value of the items removed preceding the delivery of the property in order to convince the court of the existence of a verbal agreement for their procurement and an official valuation of the items or equipment.
Last year, the Cyprus Supreme Court looking at a ruling that had previously been dismissed by the Court of First Instance, whereby the action of a purchaser for the value of the furniture which was subsequently removed from the property, because of apparently failing to prove the financial worth of his damages.
The buyer purchased a house in Limassol under a sale contract stating the purchase price which included a specific term that the purchase price included a noteworthy amount for the value of the kitchenware and other furnishings. On taking possession of the property, discovered that all the furniture and equipment had been removed.
In the vendors defence, he denied having removed all the furniture, claiming that the purchaser was told that some of the furniture would be removed and he agreed.
The Supreme Court dismissed the vendor’s allegation that there had been a verbal agreement for the removal of some of the furniture and noted that in addition to the sale contract stating the exact amount payable for the furniture and equipment, the purchaser offered evidence that he had spent a certain amount to buy new furniture and equipment; therefore, the action should not have been dismissed.
The court of first instance was mistaken to deny the buyer the legal remedy of rescission to effectively revoke the contract meaning the furniture could be awarded to him. The Cyprus Supreme Court weighed up both sides and decided to set aside the initial judgement, issuing a bill for the balance of the value of the furniture, plus any associated costs.
Eltoma Property have local legal experts on hand to help with any property sale disputes or other enquiries. Contact us for more information.