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November 02, 2011

Cuba Legalizes Private Property Sales

by Peter Cobus

Cuba says it will allow people to buy and sell homes for the first time in more than 50 years.

Cuba's Granma -- official newspaper of the Communist Party -- announced the move Thursday, saying it applies to Cuban citizens and permanent residents.

The new law, set to take effect November 10, is part of a series of reforms President Raul Castro has undertaken in an effort to boost the communist-led island's economy. Under the new rules, Cubans will be able to own one main residence and one secondary home.

Before, they were banned from selling their homes, making complex swap arrangements the only legal way to exchange property. The restrictions also led many into black-market deals.

The move to open up housing sales follows Cuba's legalization in October of buying and selling cars.

Granma says property sales will be subject to taxes. The paper says the new rules will allow people to sell, exchange, donate and pass on their houses to heirs.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.