The Cuban government on Thursday announced the passage of a bill that will modify its housing law to allow permanent residents of the country to buy and sell their homes [AIN report, in Spanish] at will. The new law, which will take effect on November 10, will still limit home ownership to one house in the city and one seasonal house in the country, but will allow Cubans the freedom to buy, sell and trade these homes at their discretion. All transactions will take place through Cuban bank accounts [AP report] so they can be regulated, and parties will be required to obtain a seal of notary for every transaction. There will also be bank commission collected for each sale and a tax of 8 percent of the value of the property.
Cubans have not had the right to buy and sell houses since 1959 when former president Fidel Castro took over. President Raul Castro promised in May [NYT report] that this right would come by the end of the year. The new law is expected to help boost the Cuban economy [NYT report], along with other regulations promised by Raul Castro, such as more flexibility in car sales and emigration. Raul Castro insisted in a report [text] to the Cuban Congress in April these changes are not moves toward capitalism, but simply restructuring of the socialist system that will allow the state to spend more resources on administering social services and less on regulating business.