Cuba’s New Property Law Allows Sales

By Circles Robinson

Havana apartment building. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 3 — A major change in Cuba’s property law was announced on Thursday. For the first time in decades, citizens and permanent foreign residents can now buy and sell houses or apartments and they will be permitted to have an additional vacation home.

While some feel the measure, which takes effect on Nov. 10, will increase class differences in the country and favor those Cubans with family abroad for investment cash, the positive aspects of allowing people to do as they wish with their property has been widely demanded.

The new law appears in the official Gazette and modifies the General Housing Law of 1988. Besides regulations for buying and selling property and the corresponding taxes, the law establishes standards for donating or inheriting property.

In addition to the right to buy and sell property and to own a vacation home, Cubans will now be allowed to legally trade properties, with one party compensating the other; donate property, and leave property in a will.

In their report on the new property rules, the New York Times quoted Pedro Freyre, an expert in Cuban-American legal relations who teaches at Columbia Law School, who commented: “To say that it’s huge is an understatement… This is the foundation, this is how you build capitalism, by allowing the free trade of property.”

However, journalist Damien Cave added in the same NYT article: “Cuban officials would disagree; they argue that they are carefully protecting socialism as they move toward economic reform, and the new law includes some provisions that seem aimed at controlling both speculation and the concentration of wealth. Owners will be limited to two homes (a residence and vacation property) and financing must go through Cuba’s Central bank, which will charge fees, which have not been determined. Beyond that, a tax of 8 percent will be split by the buyer and seller.”

For details, see the official document posted (in Spanish) in the Gaceta Oficial. We will publish an English version as soon as this becomes available.


6 thoughts on “Cuba’s New Property Law Allows Sales

  • Rick Viera is a Yahoo (a member of a race of brutes in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels who have the form and all the vices of humans). Don’t be influenced by him. Cubans – hold on to your humanity whilst being strangled by Yahoos.

  • It’s sad that Cuba is permitting people to have two homes while there are entire Cuban families living in one room. Where is the humanity? Sometimes I wonder if Cuba’s biggest mistake is that it often models itself after old corrupt and destructive systems but believes it is being progressive and creative.

  • Only in your upside down world would someone denied the use of their property be taxed for their non-use of that property by the people that confiscated it . If such taxes were to be valid then the property owner would asses the state for the rental fees for their use of said property since 1960 and the taxes could be paid from those funds.
    As for your comment regarding native Americans and their tribal lands the Indian Claims Commission Act of 1946 was created to compensate those tribes whose lands were taken in the USA.

  • Does this mean my friend franco franco can now legally build me a vacation “condo” on the roof of his house? (Actually, it would be more like a time share.)
    I wouldn’t harbor any “Great Expectations,” Rick; otherwise they might turn to dust, like those of the heirs in the legal case of Jarndys vs Jarndys in Charles Dickens’s “Bleak House.” (i.e., By the time the case was settled, the lawyers on both sides had eaten up all the estate’s principle!) Let us caculate what the–no doubt– back taxes would be from the time your ancestors left Cuba, in 1960 or 1961, ’til now. Don’t think it would be worth your while. Besides, to you think most of the Cubans now living on the island would want to make such “restitution”? If so, then perhaps the ancestors of former slaves should try to go for reparations, not to mention the native Americans, whose lands–and lives–were stolen beginning in 1492 on up to the late 19th and early 20th Centuries!

  • So tell us how does this ability to own and sell property for citizen’s of Cuba apply to those owners of property in Cuba who for political or other reasons chose or were forced to reside outside their homeland. How can we return to our homes?

  • This is very good news. Socialism did not originate as the vision of a future society in which private property rights–either of things like houses or productive enterprises–were discarded immediately. The original vision was that property ownership is a good thing.

    The idea was not to abolish these rights, but to ensure that such property was democratically owned. The present development of the housing property law in Cuba seems to be an attempt to begin the repair of the damage done to the economy and society of the state monopoly concept of socialism.

    Property rights are not the enemy of socialism. The enemy of socialism is ownership of property by either monopoly capitalists or a monopoly socialist state.

    But socialist Cuba hopefully will ensure that a landlord class is not fomented. That is the real danger. Such a class will be an engine for domestic capitalist restoration, and it will find a natural ally in the imperialists who hope someday to regain control of Cuba. Property rights, yes; landlordism, no.

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