HAVANA TIMES — Though exchanging a house or apartment with “hidden defects” is punishable by law in Cuba, people continue to do it (and successfully, in more than 90 percent of cases).
Hidden defects are all such flaws a household may have which are concealed or hidden by one of the parties involved in the transaction when the property is shown to its future resident.
The issue of hidden defects is but one of the typical problems that surround the exchange of residences, a legal procedure which – as far as I know – only exists in Cuba.
Till recently, it was the only legal means available for improving our homes, changing our surroundings, expanding or reducing our residence size or moving closer to relatives and/or workplaces.
Though the government has authorized the purchase and sale of homes, the home exchange mechanism still stands. I would even say it is a part of our culture. There is a very well-known Cuban film (Se Permuta, “House Exchange”) about the process, in which more than 10 families become involved in the same transaction and (as is to be expected) a whole mix-up seasoned with good satire ensues.
A few days ago, a friend traded an apartment in good condition located in Alamar for an old house in Centro Habana, only to discover he’d been scammed. Days later, the walls started sweating off so much humidity that the floors flooded.
When he tried to get the “ball rolling” to revert the trade, the lawyers at the governmental legal practice suggested he try to exchange the house and hit some other person “with the same trick”, for, though the law envisages these types of cases, it is “very difficult”, in practice, to undo a completed exchange.