The change in the Cyprus Government law on people buying property in the Turkish held areas (T.H.A.) is very important and it is worth mentioning it in our articles. The arrest of a Russian couple who have bought a house in the T.H.A. is a point to be noted, since, they stand to go to prison for a period up to 7 years. This does not apply only to the buyers, but also to developers, land buyers etc. The Cyprus Government has its Land Registry recording who the owners were prior to the 1974 invasion and as such it is easily checked. This stand of the Cyprus Government has been supported by the Orams case and it is noted that the British High Court has decided that the purchase done by Orams was quite illegal.
The Orams won (pending the appeal) on the point that the Cyprus Government cannot impose its Courts’ judgement in the U.K. So, the purchase remains illegal and the Orams still have to face the fact of having done an illegal act. This, coupled with the 7 years prison makes the buying of property in the T.H.A. a matter to consider seriously by the would be buyers. Be it very late, this situation is going to get more and more difficult and dangerous for those buyers, because it will be a matter of time when all the (pending) measures take place, a situation which we are not happy with, seeing people arrested when coming to Cyprus through the Governmental airports. To this, the possible pending measure of setting up a monitoring service to monitor those buyers, will cause a lot of upset.
So if anyone wishes to buy in the T.H.A., he must be absolutely sure that the land he buys/house on which the property is erected, belongs either to a foreign person/Co who was the owner prior to 1974 or land which belongs to a T/Cypriot owner prior to 1974.
The association of Estate Agents, Property Valuers and the Technical Chamber of Commerce will undertake shortly an information campaign on the matter, by giving out useful information through a leaflet, which they have prepared and which will be distributed both in the airports and the checkpoints leading to the T.H.A.
Nobody is, of course, happy by arresting people who might have placed their savings/investments in the T.H.A., but as the Russian couple said (“…. yes we knew it was illegal but we decided to go ahead since everybody else is doing it …” is not an excuse). It is a fact that investors/buyers are drawn by the comparatively lower cost of housing units in the T.H.A., as opposed to the Governmental controlled areas (approximately 30% less in the T.H.A.) and it is an evident attraction, but comparison must be made vis-à-vis the risk involved. For this reason we suggest that the Cyprus Government takes an appropriate advertising action by publishing informative articles, adds, etc, in those countries that the T.H.A. are popular (U.K., Israel, Russia) so that unsuspected individuals do not get themselves into trouble. As a projection of the new law, we wonder whether tourists can be arrested also if they reside in hotels which are build on Greek Cypriot land/or Greek Cypriot hotels (difficult to monitor – but worth the effort because people must understand that they take a risk).
Looking at it on the other side, i.e. through the eye of the Greek Cypriot property owners who see their property sold to others, the psychological feeling must be unbearable. We wonder, had Hitler won the Second World War, how the British would have felt if we, the Cypriots, bought property from the German occupiers?
By Antonis Loizou, FRICS
Antonis Loizou & Associates Ltd
Property Valuers – Project Managers
Copyright © Antonis Loizou & Associates 2006