Cigar Aficionado

Cuba Loosens Restrictions on Housing Market

While it isn’t exactly the fall of communism in Havana, Cuban citizens are now able to buy and sell their homes with minimal government interference.

The new law (Decree 288), which went into effect on November 10, allows individuals to buy and sell up to two residences (one permanent, one vacation) without the excessive government intervention that was previously required. Transactions are now simplified with most of the legal particulars left primarily between buyer and seller.

According to Granma, Cuba’s national newspaper, the new legislation is designed to ensure that citizens who want to buy or sell residential property can do so as they wish without the need for any authorization from the Municipal Housing Authority. Income taxes are still levied on the sale and a notary public mandated to formalize the transactions.

According to Julia Sweig, expert on Cuban affairs and Director of Latin American Studies for the Council of Foreign Relations, the law represents a significant political advance by “providing legitimacy and legality to the real estate markets.” Sweig adds, “There is a strong consensus in Cuba that these steps are necessary to eliminate the massive bureaucratic distortions that get in the way of people’s ability to provide for themselves and their families.”

For much more on Cuba, read the December issue of CA, on newsstands now.

"The free alienability of property, especially real property, was one of the essential developments in Anglo-American law that made possible the conditions of freedom and prosperity we take for granted in the Western world. An important, though small, step in the right direction." —May 18, 2012 10:28 AM
"Nice report. Good to hear that the Cuban government is letting their people have freedom of sale and purchase. A step in the right direction for the country." —November 21, 2011 12:38 PM