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Cyprus Title Deeds: an avenue of hope?

If the property you have bought in Cyprus does not have a separate Title Deed, then you may wait for a long time for its transfer to your name.

tasos-coucounisTHE ways the Cypriot legal system affords buyers of immovable property in Cyprus to obtain Title Deeds for their properties was explored at a Title Deeds Seminar held by the Cyprus Property Action Group in Paphos recently.

The aim of this article is to give a brief summary of what was presented by the present writer in that seminar.

The experience of many buyers of immovable property abroad has been that such a purchase is straightforward with a Title Deed for the acquired property obtained within a few weeks of the transaction.

The situation in Cyprus would not be much different if we were talking about old properties that have Title Deeds: you go to the Land Registry and transfer the Title Deed in the name of the purchaser.

However, if the property you have bought does not have a separate Title Deed, then you may wait for a long time for such transfer. In the meantime your protection against a prospective ill-intentioned vendor is the lodging of your sale contract at the Land Registry for Specific Performance purposes.

A definition of “Specific Performance” is found in Osborn’s Concise Law Dictionary:

Where damages would be inadequate compensation for the breach of an agreement, the contractor may be compelled to perform what he has agreed to do by a decree of specific performance, e.g. in contracts for the sale…

Thus, what the vendor has agreed to do in his sale contract with the purchaser is, amongst other things but most important of all, to transfer the Title Deed of the bought property in the name of the purchaser. It is this obligation which Specific Performance upholds, that no monetary or other damages can replace. This obligation is upheld by the court.

One might ask why can’t a purchaser who has lodged his sale contract with the Land Registry go ahead in court and ask for Specific Performance against the vendor. The answer is quite simple:

Specific Performance cannot be ordered by the court unless there is a separate Title Deed for the property bought.

You might ask: Who is the person responsible to issue such a separate Title Deed? The vendor, of course.

Obviously, the problem arises where the vendor is doing nothing or too little in order to issue a separate Title Deed.

Thus, the purchaser is held hostage. Can we do anything about this? Yes, we can.

We can file an action in court and ask for either of two things: either:

  • ask the court to issue a Court Order against the vendor ordering him to issue a separate Title Deed within a specific time period that the court will determine, or
  • ask the court to appoint and authorise any other person the court determines as suitable to sign any document and to take any action whatsoever in order for a separate Title Deed to be issued.

Assuming such a legal remedy is awarded to the purchaser and the separate Title Deed is issued, this is the time when the vendor must transfer the separate Title Deed in the name of the purchaser.

If he refuses to do so, this is when the purchaser can ask for Specific Performance of his sale contract from the court, in which case a Court Order for Specific Performance can be issued fast and presented at the Land Registry for transfer of the Title Deed without the vendor’s signature or participation.

Tasos Coucounis is a partner in the Law Firm of Andreas Coucounis & Co.
([email protected], Tel. 00357 24822460)

Copyright © Cyprus Weekly 2009

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