HAVANA – Between January and August of this year, Cuban notaries handled some 45,000 property transactions, with gifts of real estate exceeding sales, an official with the Justice Ministry said Thursday.
Olga Lidia Perez Diaz discussed at a press conference the new law in force for almost a year that allows purchases and sales of real estate and the gifting of homes according to contracts between individuals, a law that put an end to the decades-long prohibition on such activity.
She warned of legal consequences for anyone found to have disguised a sale as a donation in an attempt to avoid paying taxes.
Nevertheless, she said that over the year that the law has been in force not a single transaction has been nullified.
Of the 45,000 transactions, the majority occurred in Havana and the provincial capitals.
The government of President Raul Castro last November gave the green light to Decree 288, which modified the General Housing Law of 1988 by easing restrictions on the transfer of housing among private individuals.
The measure – along with another similar one governing the buying and selling of vehicles – is part of the government’s economic reform plan to “update” the socialist model and put an end to decades of prohibitions and restrictions in assorted areas.
According to the National Housing Institute, 85 percent of Cuba’s roughly 3.7 million homes are within the sphere of private property.
Up until 2010, Cuba, which has 11.2 million citizens, had an acknowledged shortage of some 600,000 houses, and – according to government figures – more than 50 percent of all such structures are in poor repair. EFE