Three months after passing a law on title deeds, authorities are discovering that incentives given to developers to legitimise illegal constructions are not as appealing as had been hoped.
The law passed last March allowed owners of houses or apartments that violated building regulations to pay a certain amount to the Town Planning department and thus be eligible to the property’s title deed. Without the deed, owners cannot develop, mortgage, sell or transfer the property.
The philosophy of the bill, drafted by two DISY deputies, was that buyers should not be held hostage by developers’ reluctance to comply with building regulations. Therefore, if in six months’ time the developers failed to take action, buyers would be able to arrange matters themselves. The system was not perfect, as buyers would need to pay for building irregularities that were in many cases the developers’ fault.
The agenda behind the measure was two-fold: on the one hand, it was designed to rein in the construction bedlam in urban areas; on the other, the income generated by the government (optimistic estimates spoke of £40 million) would help toward plugging the spiralling public deficit.
But three months down the line, wayward Cyprus property developers are not taking the bait. Many have already received full payment on recent sales, and thus do not feel inclined to play by the rules.
Come September, buyers trapped in this vicious cycle can resolve their predicament, but it’s uncertain how many of them will be willing to pay out of their own pocket for mistakes made by the developers.
Authorities say the poor response to the measure can also be attributed to lack of awareness about the issue among the general public, even though the new law was given extensive media coverage at the time. A one-day seminar is therefore being arranged for June 16 to provide people with details.
Cityscapes are littered with glaring examples of houses blatantly flaunting building rules: boundaries between residences are often non-existent, add-ons are built without permission, and complex disputes between neighbours typically take too long to resolve, if at all.
The Town Planning department has in the past faced allegations of corruption, according to which department personnel were given sweeteners to approve building licences. This was one of the wrongs the new law hoped to remedy.
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