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How much pressure before Cyprus acts?

Property buyers are getting increasingly worried and angry at the lack of progress being made by the Cyprus Government to resolve the ‘Title Deeds-cum-fraud mess’.

As the financial crisis bites ever deeper, property buyers are getting increasingly worried and angry at the seeming lack of progress being made by the Cyprus Government to resolve the ‘Title Deeds-cum-fraud mess’.

In June last year the Interior Minister, Nicos Sylikiotis, assured property buyers that a new Title Deed law could be implemented by the end of the year. Last September, details of the new Title Deed Law emerged and Mr Sylikiotis confirmed that the new legislation would be ready by the end of the year.

But despite of growing pressure from Europe, the UK and his own countrymen to resolve the Title Deed situation, the Cyprus Interior Minister is keeping very quiet; there have been no official announcements since last September.

Questions raised in European Union Parliament

To date, four questions have been raised in the European Parliament about the issue (click on the reference numbers for further details):

Caroline Jackson (PPEDE) to the Commission – Ref: E-6513/08

Property rights in Cyprus

The Government in Cyprus currently permits property developers to retain the title deeds to land that they develop, even after properties are built. Subsequently, property developers can use these title deeds as collateral to gain mortgages. However, should a property developer go bankrupt and have to surrender any title deed owned to their bank, homeowners living on that land risk losing their property.

This current situation appears to be in contravention of the constitution of Cyprus and possibly EC law. Does the Commission believe that it has any standing to intervene in any way in this situation, given that the interests of many citizens from EU countries other than Cyprus are being damaged by this practice?

Mary Honeyball (PSE) to the Commission – Ref: E-6793/08

Title Deeds in Cyprus

I have been receiving correspondence from constituents regarding title deeds in Cyprus. My constituents have legitimately bought properties in Cyprus, but the Cypriot Government has allowed the property developers to retain the title deeds to the property after the purchase. Property developers can then use these deeds as collateral to obtain mortgages during the time that it takes for the Land Registry to issue the deeds to the buyer. If the developer goes bankrupt in this period the buyer stands to lose the property, despite having paid in full.

The Cyprus Property Action Group estimates that up to 40,000 non-Cypriot citizens risk losing their homes due to this.

Is the Commission aware of this situation?

Is the Cypriot Government breaching any EU directives by allowing this practice to take place?

Syed Kamall (PPEDE) to the Commission – Ref: E-0110/09

Property laws in Cyprus

A number of constituents have contacted me regarding the property laws of Cyprus. My constituents are among thousands of UK citizens who fear they have bought properties in the country and risk losing their homes.

My constituents are concerned that the Cypriot Government is not following EU and UN Charters on the protection of property rights by allowing property developers to retain title deeds to the properties. My constituents inform me that these developers can use deeds as collateral to obtain mortgages and if developers go bankrupt, buyers, who have already paid in full, can lose their homes. Some of my constituents tell me that they have been waiting seven years for the title deed to their property.

My constituents inform me that it is the situation in Cyprus that deeds do not come automatically. They tell me that there can be many problems such as mortgages on the land, antiquated property laws and builds without permits. My constituents add that buyers are fooled by claims that the Cypriot legal system, with regard to property law, is based on British law and that this is not the case.

I would like to ask the Commission if Cyprus, by allowing developers to retain title deeds even after full payment, is acting in accordance with EU/UN Charters and its own Constitution (Article 23) regarding property rights.

Does the Commission have any plans to take action against the Cypriot Government? If so, what action does it plan to take?

Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE) to the Commission – Ref: E-1022/09

Title Deeds in Cyprus

Some of my constituents have brought to my attention the severe problems they are having with regard to obtaining the title deeds for properties they have bought in Cyprus. It appears that, in some cases, it is taking as long as 10 years to issue title deeds.

Even more worrying are reports that in some cases Cypriot banks are allowing developers to take out mortgages against property which has been paid for in full. As the developers still hold the title deeds, this puts the owners of the property in a very vulnerable position. If the developer goes bankrupt, the bank can sell the land and property on it to recoup their losses, leaving the owners with nothing.

Can the Commission state whether it is aware of this problem in Cyprus? Can the Commission also state whether the Cypriot government could be breaching any EU directives by failing to ensure the timely issue of title deeds to property owners?

EU membership comes with obligations

Cyprus acceded to the EU on the 1st May 2004. Joining the ‘club’ not only brought with it some benefits of membership but also a number of obligations – some of which it seems the Cyprus government may be unwilling or unable to accept.

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