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Changes to Cyprus Title Deed laws revealed

A senior Department of Lands and Surveys official has revealed the changes to the laws of Cyprus designed to untie the ‘Gordian Knot’ preventing the issue of some 130,000 Title Deeds to properties on the island.

THE FIVE draft bills designed to alleviate problems preventing the issue of Title Deeds have been approved by the Council of Ministers and are now with the House of Representatives.

Often referred to as a ’Planning Amnesty’, the draft bills influence other aspects of the Title Deed problem and change the following laws:

  • The Streets and Buildings Regulations Law, Cap 96
  • The Planning Law 90/1972.
  • The Immovable Property (Tenure, Registration and Valuation) Law, Cap. 224
  • The Sale of Land (Specific Performance) Law, Cap 232
  • The Contract Law, Cap. 249

The main provisions of the changes are outlined below.

The Streets and Buildings Regulations Law, Cap 96

To speed up the whole procedure of issuing Title Deeds, changes to the law require:

  1. the simultaneous issuing of a division permit and a building permit;
  2. the application by the owner, within 21 days of the completion of the project, to the appropriate authority for the issuing of a Certificate of Approval, otherwise an administrative penalty may be imposed. (Another source reports that the ‘completion of the project’ may be 8 to 18 years after its building permit has been issued).

Where projects have not been completed, a partial Certificate of Approval can be issued.

Where projects do not conform to the permits issued for their construction (i.e. they have constructional irregularities), a Certificate of Approval can be issued together with a notification of those irregularities.

Where construction irregularities are ‘significant’, a certificate of unauthorised works is issued. This will result in a prohibition being placed on the Title that will prevent the affected property being sold, transferred, mortgaged, etc.

Regarding the planning amnesty, the changes to the law provides for the creation of a Commission that will examine applications and decide accordingly.

The Commission can impose a fee as a set-off for the irregularity and when the fee is paid any notices of irregularity on the Certificate of Approval and/or the Title are lifted.

The planning amnesty is only applicable to existing developments, and the owner of the property needs to apply to the Commission within one year of the law being passed.

The Planning Law 90/1972.

This contains similar provisions to those outlined above for the Streets and Buildings Regulations Law, Cap 96.

The Immovable Property (Tenure, Registration and Valuation) Law, Cap. 224

Changes to the law enable up-to-date Title Deeds to be issued following an application by the owner of the property or through discretionary powers vested in the Director of the Lands and Surveys Department. If the owner of a property fails to co-operate with the Director, an administrative penalty can be imposed.

As mentioned above, the Title Deed to be issued may be burdened with a “notice of irregularity” and/or a prohibition on any dealing of the property, on the basis of the relevant certificate of approval or a “certificate of unauthorised works”.

The Sale of Land (Specific Performance) Law, Cap 232

Changes to the law require that, where a unit or a building site is sold, the contract must be accompanied by a building or division permit, respectively. Also, the property being sold must be free of any mortgages and all other encumbrances.

The Contract Law, Cap. 249

Changes to the law require that, for any contract of sale of immovable property to be valid, it must be in writing and it must be deposited at a District Lands Office.

Before any of the above changes can become law, they need to be debated by Parliament (the House of Representatives) – and they may be changed, strengthened or watered down during this democratic process. It should also be remembered that the previous planning amnesty was a complete and abject failure.

Readers' comments

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  • Andrew says:

    The following press release was found online. If it is true, then anyone whose developer has an outstanding mortgage should be concerned

    Cyprus Title Deeds – Press Release July 26th 2009 Ministry of the Interior
    PRESS RELEASE July 26th, 2009

    ΜINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR

    b) Apparently, some of the Minister’s answers to questions were misinterpreted. The Minister, when asked on the possibility of the government’ s intervention in case of mortgage on a property, in order to safeguard the rights of buyers, and to provide a guarantee by the government itself to the buyers, stated that as in any state, the government does not intervene in private contracts and agreements between free parties (between the seller and the buyer), neither before the signing of the deal or agreement, nor afterwards, to safeguard any of the parties.

  • Andrew says:

    And what about the biggest problem of all. That of existing outstanding developer mortgages. The one where you lose your home if the developer becomes bankrupt or simply decides not to play ball.

    Maybe they don`t care about the people who have already paid in full for their homes?.

  • Dave says:

    Seem to have heard this somewhere before. Also it seems that our Deeds will cost at least 50% more than originally quoted , I believe this is due to IPT.

    Nice when you are short of cash to be able to increase the government charge for something to pay for your debts. If I get short of cash can I pay the government less Council tax and water rates?? (not that we ever have a full week with water anyway).

  • Sue says:

    None of this will work with the high nepotism in Cyprus, and also the need for modernisation is high.

    I was in the town hall planning the other week and couldn’t believe the amount of files stacked on the floor. One computer between six people. When my friend asked for information, the woman looked through books instead of bringing the information up on her computer.

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