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Majority of Cypriot planning amnesty laws passed

Yesterday the Cypriot Parliament passed the most of the ‘town planning amnesty’ legislation aimed at tackling the morass of properties without Title Deeds in Cyprus.

Results of a recent mini-pollBY A UNANIMOUS vote, the House approved the amended laws on town planning, roads and structures, and immovable property (tenure, registration and valuation) as submitted by the Interior Ministry. Eleventh-hour amendments proposed by the parties were discussed but rejected.

MPs had hoped to pass the entire package, which consists of five items in total, but two of the items are still pending at the House Legal Affairs Committee.

The new legislation essentially provides for ‘legalizing’ real estate property that lacks a Title Deed due to town-planning or building irregularities.

Some 130,000 Title Deeds are pending, due to developers not having paid mortgages to banks for property which buyers have already paid for, or to building irregularities such as exceeding the allowed building ratio.

The government expects to make some €150,000 per year from transfer fees if affected people apply en masse.

Under the general town-planning law passed yesterday, owners of houses or apartments may now legalize their property for a fee and thus secure a final certificate of approval and the deed; alternatively, a Title Deed issued will list on it the property’s irregularities.

Only ‘minor’ irregularities – such as closing up a balcony or building a garage – may be legalized in this way. This excludes cases where irregularities affect third parties or encroach on state property, or for flagrant violations such as the building ratio having been exceeded by 30 per cent or more.

Affected people now have six months to apply to the Town Planning Department.

The regularisation fees will be determined by a three-member committee, appointed by the Cyprus Interior Minister, in each district. The committee will take a second look at cases approved by either the Town Planning or Land Registry departments, and issue a final decision.

As an incentive, 20 per cent of these fees will be shaved off for applications filed within one year of the law coming into force, and 10 per cent for applications submitted within the second year.

There are also provisions for fines for delays, omissions or fraudulent information in documentation which goes towards obtaining a Title Deed.

Anyone found guilty in court of committing a planning irregularity will be liable to a fine of up to €3,400 and to an additional €340 penalty for each day of non-compliance thereafter.

Readers' comments

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  • Gavin Jones says:

    Nigel.

    Thank you for that little jewel of predictable information re. Alyn Smith’s letter.

    Steady as she goes, in other words, and let the devil take the proverbial hindmost. Anyone for tea and crumpets while we wait for international confirmation of Cypriot institutionalized moral, political and financial bankruptcy?

    Tens of thousands of us have known about this phenomenon for many years but I suppose that our European parliamentary representatives are playing catch-up, while continuing to spew out words of support and understanding without actually DOING anything. Added to that, they conveniently hide behind the apron of world events in Libya, Egypt and potential debt defaulters such as Greece, Portugal et al.

    Patience, mon brave, toujours la patience…

  • @Gavin – Neither the President not anyone from his office has condescended to reply to Alyn Smith’s letter.

    I have been in contact with Alyn’s Policy Advisor – she sent a reminder some weeks ago, but still no answer has been forthcoming.

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    They should change the name of the ROC to OLD SICILY !!

  • Unbelievable says:

    @Gavin – how about staging protests outside the UK Cypriot London embassy. Imagine how many would be investors will get the message.

    Or, sign paint a small van and drive around London (if it’s legal of course). Maybe advertise your website.

    Let the UK investors know that they could potentially lose their money in Cyprus property.

    When the Good, Honest Cypriot developers eventually have enough of this, they just might lobby the Cyprus government to halt the dirty, corrupt developers that are killing their trade.

    It’s going to hurt before it gets better..

  • Gavin Jones says:

    What a sad, evil, backward, predictable, shameful place Cyprus has become.

    For years, the more adventurous among us have set up websites, demonstrated outside the Presidential palace, gone to court, had meetings with Cypriot Ministers and officials, met our respective High Commissioner or ambassador, Spoken or emailed MEPs and MPs, written to the press to eruditely expose the chicanery of lawyers and developers, gone through all the legal channels, tried to reason, bent this way and that AND continued to live with the forlorn hope that one day all will be resolved. Sorry to disappoint but when it comes to resolution, we have to be real. NOTHING will change unless more DYNAMIC action is taken.

    These ridiculous, pettifogging bills are yet again another manifestation of the corrupt nature of the regime here and no amount of hand wringing by us will make any difference. We really have reached the end of the line on all fronts. The majority of Deputies (MPs) here are lawyers, they and the government are too closely allied with the developers and the banks are also complicit with this cosy/corrupt modus operandi.

    When it comes to the Title Deeds scandal and the patent, proven ‘bias’ within the judiciary, the EU has been sadly wanting and has offered nothing more than platitudes of support and continuing ‘disbelief’ at what is going on. Effective action? None. (Unless I’m not mistaken, MEP Alyn Smith’s November letter to the President remains unanswered. As per usual, the weapon of silence strikes yet again. Nigel. Perhaps you can update us on that score).

    The next stage? For starters, perhaps we should take a leaf out of the Arab revolutions and instead of relying on lone warriors like Conor O’Dwyer, perhaps more of us should combine and stage REGULAR protests outside the Interior Ministry, Attorney General’s office AND the President’s palace.

    If others have any other practical, effective suggestions, let’s here them.

  • Unbelievable says:

    This is complete B####### !

    Why should any house owner pay more money to the Cyprus system just to get a pseudo Title Deed ?

    Below are the main reasons why a title deed is not issued..

    1 – Bank holds the Title due to developer mortgage
    2 – Developer just doesn’t want to part with it
    3 – Developer has built illegally

    These new laws only work for individual plots (self builds)

    How on earth can the law enforce points 1-3 and make the developers fulfil their contractual obligations?

  • Clive Fletcher says:

    Yes, these laws are about the government racking in much needed money for their coffers.

    No doubt the three man committee will ‘correct’ irregularities and the buyer will be able to collect their TD’s and pay Property Tax on the now over-inflated price of their property. But will it end there?

    Once they become owners they also take on the responsibility to correct any fault on the property that are violations of the building or planning regulations. Now perhaps we have a definition of ‘the responsible party.’

    Then the banks will enter the scene and demand the loans on their property are paid off or repossessions will commence.

    I think owners should just play it the Greek Cypriot way and ignore the new rules – yes, I know people are desperate to sell but the price you may have to pay to get TD’s may be far higher than the value of the property.

    You can smell the rat a mile off can’t you.

  • @andyp – There is no way of knowing whether the developer has breached the code. HE will know.

  • andyp says:

    Nigel. How does one know whether their developer has breached code or not?

    Absolute nonsense

  • @Andrew – Unfortunately, these new laws fail to address the most serious problem; developers mortgages.

    As reported last Monday, the main objective of the town planning amnesty laws is to collect funds for the government’s coffers because revenue from property transactions has hit rock-bottom.

    The two remaining bills deal with the mortgage issue, but I doubt very much that they will help existing buyers (in fact the Government has already admitted as much).

  • Andrew says:

    “Some 130,000 Title Deeds are pending, due to developers not having paid mortgages to banks for property which buyers have already paid for” .

    How do the proposed new laws address the above, more serious problem?

  • @Alan – I guess we will have to wait until we have seen the precise wording of the law to answer your question. But given there is a backlog of 130,000 properties waiting for Title Deeds, I doubt that the authorities will re-inspect those that have already been issued with their Certificate of Final Completion.

  • Alan Waring says:

    ‘The regularisation fees will be determined by a three-member committee, appointed by the Cyprus Interior Minister, in each district. The committee will take a second look at cases approved by either the Town Planning or Land Registry departments, and issue a final decision’.

    Two points. (1) Presumably, a ‘second look’ will only apply to those TDs with irregularities and not to ALL cases including those without irregularities and whose Final Approval has already been issued by District Office and where the TDs are just awaiting Land Registry issue? (2) This extra committee evaluation will add a further layer of bureaucracy, uncertainty and delay to an already constipated system.

    Nigel,am I correct on point (1)?

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