Hidden Defects: Swapping Homes in Cuba

Osmel Almaguer

Foto: Osmany

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.

2 thoughts on “Hidden Defects: Swapping Homes in Cuba

  • The Castros !!!!
    Cuba;s “failed ” economic and social systems have them placing at around 50th in the world on the W.H.O.’s Human Development Index and far ahead of any capitalist country of similar resources and not under economic attack by the USA.
    Just imagine how much better off all Cubans would be if the U.S called off its 54 year old war on the Cuban people.
    As a (capital “C” only) Christian you might not care to ask yourself which side of the Florida Straits He would favor.
    As someone who thinks it is only difficult for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, your answer should be amusing.

  • Cuba should require a neutral qualified third-party house inspector to sign-off on the ‘permuta’ before it could take effect. There are tons of well-trained architects and engineers who were selling clothes from their living rooms in order to make a decent living that the Castros could re-employ to provide this service. More importantly, Cuba should legalize insurance. That way, even if the home inspector was corrupt (as he likely would be), his approval would be bonded and backed by an insurance policy that would pay to repair or replace defects ‘overlooked’ by his inspection. Like so many problems Cubans face on a daily basis, this problem is easily resolved. The Castros spend too much time and energy sloganeering and creating distractions for the Cuban people to keep their focus off their failed economic and social system.

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