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Revised Cyprus Title Deeds laws by May?

Amendments to various laws designed to resolve the Cyprus Title Deeds-cum-fraud mess could be complete and voted through before parliamentary elections in May.

THE GOVERNMENT’S town-planning amnesty bills will be put to the vote in parliament early next month as MPs aim to conclude discussion of two other bills designed to regulate mortgage issues before the May 22 parliamentary elections, it emerged yesterday.

Chairman of the House Interior Committee, AKEL MP Yiannos Lamaris said discussion has been completed and the bills were going to be submitted to plenum on March 3.

“A chapter concerning thousands of people is closing,” he said.

Apart from town planning matters, the government has also drafted two bills to regulate mortgage matters, currently under discussion at the House Legal Affairs Committee.

Committee member, DISY MP, Tasos Mitsopoulos said the aim was to bring the two bills before the plenum before parliament dissolves to the May elections.

On Friday, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis accused DISY MPs of stalling, something rejected by opposition legislators.

“The Interior Minister is being unfair when he criticises the legal affairs committee,” Mitsopoulos said. “If we had approved the bills as they were we would have caused a bigger problem.”

Mitsopoulos said the drafts had a lot of holes and omissions and the committee held many sessions to correct things.

Many people, including foreign buyers, have been left without deeds even after paying for their houses because developers did not pay the mortgage to the bank.

Thousands more remain without Title Deeds to their property due to irregularities at the time of construction or changes later on.

The legislation headed to the plenum on March 3 seeks to sort this problem out by legalising irregularities – under certain conditions – but Green party MP Giorgos Perdikis has his misgivings.

Developers should be held to account

Perdikis had proposed adding a provision to go after developers responsible for irregularities but it was rejected by the Town Planning Department.

He suggested fining developers who did not show interest in legalising the irregularities “or else there is no pressure on the party who did the irregularities”.

Perdikis said some 30 per cent of properties that cannot get a deed have irregularities created by the construction companies.

His suggestion was rejected because buyers could now apply themselves to legalise the wrongdoings and then take the developer to court to demand the money they paid in doing so.

“But when are they going to get their money and at what cost?” Perdikis said.

New laws suit developers

He added that the law was structured in such a way that it suited the developers who sold the houses.

“Only those (buyers) who need the title will do it,” Perdikis said, adding that many will be discouraged by the procedures and the cost.

Under the legislation, irregularities carried out by the current residents after the purchase – like closing balconies or building garages – can also be legalised, for a fee, as long as they do not affect third parties or encroach on state property.

Over 100,000 Title Deeds are currently pending with the government expecting to make some €150,000,000 per year from transfer fees if affected people apply en masse.

Readers' comments

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  • Steve says:

    If I remember rightly, the poisoned title deeds that will be issued for properties that have contravened the planning regulations do not allow for the sale of the property and exchange of title deeds until the irregularities have been corrected.

    This is for most occupants a worse situation than pertains at the moment and it could continue after their death if probate cannot be completed on their estate.

  • Andrew says:

    @ Nigel
    Banks don`t appear to be offering any such assurances yet. So it looks like there will be many thousands of people having sleepless nights again.

    The Developers win. The Banks win. The lawyers make more more money from the people they have already mis-represented, so they win again.

    Only the duped buyers lose in the end. Long live Cyprus eh!

  • David says:

    To all you Brits living in Cyprus. Be assured that the message has got through to most people here in the UK at least. I am still surprised to find some who still buy in ignorance…. but not many.

    About 4 years ago we were certain we were going to retire to Cyprus having spent over 20 years visiting and loving Cyprus and the people of Cyprus. But then the property prices got silly.. then the £vEuro got silly…. then the title deeds saga got silly. Then the Cyprus Government got silly. So we decided NOT to be silly.!!

    We have now retired and can see that many other countries offer better,cheaper retirement opportunities with legal/banking systems that are not operating in a “dubious” way… if you know what I mean !! ??

  • Curmudgeon says:

    Re: ‘On a better note I put off two people yesterday thinking of buying here, and asked them to spread the word back home…Cyprus you are finished’

    Firstly, I understand the anger and resentment being dished out but broad statements and blanket aggression such as this tickle my nasal hairs somewhat.

    Retirees who have Title Deeds just might want to sell up and return from whence they came for family and personal reasons.

    Spread the word with the following caveat. Only buy if Title is available and can be produced.

  • Mike says:

    Another amendment written by those with a vested interest to a law which is not fit for purpose in a European society or an alleged European society.

    I travel to many parts of Europe and must admit do find that in general, with some notable exceptions, much of what is conducted by Governments in regards to their citizens is by & large on a similar model. Cyprus seems to place burdens on its population that should be placed on Government or its agencies.

    A very strange methodology. One might be tempted to ask “exactly what is the purpose of the administration that appears to cost so much of GDP”

  • @Jim – I agree. If anything the laws will damage the property market even further because they are so unfair and obviously biased in favour of property developers.

    It should be the transgressor who pays the price – according to Mr Perdikis 30% of the properties that cannot get their deeds result from transgressions by the developer.

    The laws have get to finalised and voted through parliament. It’s a bit premature to second guess what they will say as there may be some amendments – assuming common sense and fair play exists in this Island.

  • @Andrew – the only one who can guarantee that the bank will not come after you if the developer fails to repay his debts is the bank itself.

    If a developer does fail, one of your options will probably be to repay the developer’s debt to the bank.

  • Andrew says:

    Can someone please give a guarantee that Banks will not be allowed to go after home buyers when a developer fails to repay his debt.

  • Jim says:

    The new laws will do nothing to encourage foreign buyers to purchase property in Cyprus. Again the government, make flawed attempts to make a terrible system better. They must adopt a system that gives the purchaser a valid title deed when he pays for the property.

    To say the property purchaser can take a developer to court to redress any wrongdoings is laughable, you just have to look at the O’Dwyer case to see how justice is dispensed here.

    The only safe way to purchase property in Cyprus is to buy, only if there is a clear title deed available.

  • Peter says:

    I didn’t retire to Cyprus to end up in a never ending battle with my developer.

    Apart from the fact we both know (1) the courts are biased against the British, (2) the courts take for ever, so I may die in the meantime (3) having paid for the house and living on a fixed income I can’t afford litigation – what was the point of buying in Cyprus??

    Ho yes, now I remember I retired to Cyprus for a quiet life, for peace and tranquillity, apart from the worry of losing my home.

    On a better note I put off two people yesterday thinking of buying here, and asked them to spread the word back home…Cyprus you are finished.

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