BY 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.