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Summary of Cyprus planning amnesty laws revealed

The draughtsman of the original amendments to the Cyprus Immovable Property (Tenure, Registration and Valuation) Law provides a summary of the new laws that were approved by parliament last month.

AFTER a long period of discussions and friction, the House of Representatives eventually passed into laws the pack of bills loosely known as «Planning Amnesty» (i.e. the opportunity of legalizing, within a given period of time, existing irregularities in the construction of buildings or the sub-division of building sites).

The planning amnesty is only a part of the whole package, which contains important amendments of the Town and Country Planning Law, the Streets and Buildings Regulations Law and the Immovable Property (Tenure, Registration and Valuation) Law.

The most important provisions of the new legislation are the following:

Temporary provisions (planning amnesty)

Any owner or other interested person may apply, within 3 years from the coming into force of the law, for the issue of a certificate of approval for irregularities that resulted in:

a) an increase of the built up area up to 10%, or

b) a change in the aesthetics of the building or

c) the wrong positioning of the building or

d) the unsatisfactory construction of infrastructure works or

e) wrong construction of a building site.

Any owner or other interested person may apply, within 3 years from the coming into force of the law, for the issue of a planning permit for irregularities that resulted in:

a) an increase of the built up area up to 30%, or

b) an increase of the height of the building or

c) the wrong positioning of the building or

d) wrong distance from the boundaries or

e) the unsatisfactory construction of infrastructure works or

f) the decrease of the area of a building site up to 20%.

Irregularities which have resulted in the increase of the built up area can be traded off by the payment of a sum of money, equal to the value of the extra land which corresponds to the extra build up area, or by the transferring, from another property, (including a listed property), of the extra «building ratio» needed.

Certain acts, like the carrying out of irregularities, false statements, obstruction of an authorised person to carry out his duties under the law, or failure to produce relevant documents or other information needed by an appropriate authority, is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment or a fine or both.

Other (permanent) provisions

  1. The simultaneous issuing of a building permit and a division permit is made possible.
  2. The issuing a Certificate of Approval and eventually Title Deeds for part of a project is also made possible.
  3. The relevant authorities are empowered to impose an administrative fine on developers and other owners who fail to apply in time or to co-operate promptly with the authorities for the issue of the relevant permits, certificates of approval or Title Deeds.
  4. The issuing of titles with «notes of irregularities» for minor irregularities is authorised.
  5. The issuing of a «certificate of non- authorized works», which eventually leads to the issuing of titles with a note prohibiting the voluntary transferring or burdening of the property is also authorised.
  6. Planning permits, certificates of approval and Title Deeds can be issued after an application of any interested person, in the case where the owner fails to apply.
  7. A certificate of approval can be issued by the relevant authorities on their own accord, where the owner fails to apply.
  8. The production of all relevant documents and the issuing of an up-to-date title by the Director of Lands and Surveys, on his own accord, is possible, if the owner fails to produce the documents or take any other necessary action.

There are many other provisions in the amending Laws which need not be mentioned at this stage.

About the author

Andreas D. Symeou LL.B, M.Sc (U.L.A.) was the draughtsman of the original amendments to the Immovable Property (Tenure, Registration and Valuation) Law, which underwent many changes before being approved by parliament on 24th March.

He is a property consultant and a Member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS) and may be contacted at [email protected]

Readers' comments

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  • Kleftiko says:

    Hey, Odd_Job_Bob..

    I read the article and couldn’t stop laughing at the below paragraph..

    “The euro has many flaws, but its weakest link is Greece, whose fundamental problem is that for years it spent too much, earned too little and plugged the gap by borrowing in order to enjoy a rich man’s lifestyle. It flouted EU rules on the limits to budget deficits; its national accounts were a moussaka of minced statistics, topped with a cheesy sauce of jiggery-pokery.”

    But really, this is looking to be very serious stuff guys!
    So when Greece is kicked out (along with Cyprus), Games up!

    No Bailout – No Funds left – No EU Laws – No Chance

    Oh…and No Title Deeds, therefore the Land is reclaimed.

    Look up the true meaning of the word Kleftiko. When you find out, it’s a dish that’s going to be hard to swallow.

  • Unbelievable says:

    @Odd_Job_Bob – You’re probably closer to the truth than the so called money experts.

    So, what do we do from here on..

    Stick with Sterling £££
    Keep away from Euro crap!

    Tiny EU countries that don’t really have a big manufacturing or export market are slowly but surely draining the EU piggy bank. In reality, these poor EU counties have bitten off more than they can chew with no hope of repaying their debt sometime soon. The debt will be hanging around for decades and may even be wiped off.

    Dangerous times ahead my friends..very dangerous times for punters that cannot afford to lose their pennies. Leave it to the bigger boys to gamble. Keep your pocket money at home and save it for a rainy day.

    Also keep an eye on the Cyprus Stock Market and if large Cypriot institutions start to buy Sterling…..run for your lives and get out quick!

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    Recent comment I received from someone in the Cypriot estate agency business was that now whenever a Russian buyer walks in the first thing they say is ‘nikakoy dokumyent, nyet pokupat’ – no deeds, no buy. Dobra pazhalavat v klubye! Welcome to the club!

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    Please Sir Unbelievable, I know this one!

    Please see attached article:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/jeffrandall/7746806/Whatever-Germany-does-the-euro-as-we-know-it-is-dead.html

    Best line I think is this: “the Euro, in its current form, is finished. The game is up for a monetary union that was meant to bolt together work-and-save citizens in northern Europe with the party animals of Club Med. No amount of pit props from Berlin can save the Euro Mk I from collapsing under the weight of its structural dysfunctionality.”

    And there we have it.

    Many contributors to this forum have said “Only hope EU”, “Write to our MEPs who will sort it out”, “Revolving presidency of the EU will make them clean up their act” etc.

    When the eurozone splits into countries who can’t afford to stay nor revert to their base currencies(Greece, Portugal, Ireland, maybe Spain, CYPRUS) and those who can’t afford to bail out everyone else (Germany, maybe the Benelux guys and France, with a fair wind), we will have a Euro crap and a euro deutschmark.

    What happens to all the reliance on the EU to sort out the problems when Cyprus is in a eurocrap zone? Nothing. No need to change anything as no-one in the EC zone cares or would have any money to do anything about it.

    Does anyone remember Private James Frazer of Dad’s Army? That’s us that is.

  • out of the frying pan into the fire says:

    It’s not just Title deeds, its corrupt lawyers, developers, banks, they are all part of the same problem. Greed. People who get too greedy get nothing and that is what they deserve. Nothing.

  • Mike says:

    Like Unbelievable I too am Cypriot, a refugee from North Famagusta, and agree with what he has written. There are many of us who despise what has and is happening to foreign buyers and we live for the day when those responsible for bringing our Country into disrepute & toppling it from the pinnacle of honesty and integrity into the gutters of corruption & greed are made to pay.

    We claim to be a Christian Country but we do seem to act in a very unchristian way. We are in danger of the word ‘Cyprus’ becoming synonymous with Greed & Corruption at all levels. Is it any wonder that the villages, where life is still reasonably untainted, want nothing to do with the crooks in the towns and tourist areas.

  • Unbelievable says:

    @Road Warrior – You’re right about non Cypriots receiving no justice (and that’s coming from a Cypriot myself)

    Blood is Thicker than Water and when pushed up against a brick wall, I’m afraid the Cypriots will club together to save themselves.

    @Denis O’Hare – You Are a Decent Man for continuing to fight for justice.

    Does any know of Any other EU country that sells property without Title Deeds for years to come?

    This is a very dark and black period for the Euro zone members. With so many EU members asking for massive bail out funds, there is no telling what the outcome will be 12months from now. Even the experts are getting it wrong :-(

    If the Euro did collapse, or if some EU members are pushed out only to revert back to their old currencies, what then?

  • Road Warrior says:

    Only in this country could they take a really complicated procedure and “improve” it, by making it more complicated, just like the amnesty a few years ago, nothing to do with deeds for rightful owners but everything to do with allowing developers to offload more properties.

    However, the cat is well and truly out of the bag and the message is, no deeds, no sale. The rest of Europe is now wise to this biased, corrupt property market.

    I would though, go even further, even buying with deeds, should you, a non Cypriot experience a problem, you will receive no help from the so called justice system.

  • Denis O'Hare says:

    @ Andreas Symeou

    Dear Andreas,

    In 2009, when you kindly invited me to your home to discuss the proposed legislation I pointed out that the plan to saddle some buyers with tainted Title Deeds whereby they cannot sell or mortgage their property was unconstitutional (Article 23). You readily agreed with me and said this part would have to be changed – and I see of late that the banks now share this unconstitutional view. Note: the Minister of the Interior has publicly stated that CPAG gave no feedback to these proposals which you at least are aware is simply not true.

    You have since also visited my home and I now know you to be a decent man.

    However, that any civilised State could pass laws such as this just beggars belief and will do yet more damage to the image of Cyprus once the word gets around as it undoubtedly will.

    Whereby a buyer could purchase, in good faith, a fully legal property through a sales agreement, yet end up with a worthless one (as it cannot be sold) is quite scandalous. That any Government could effectively collude with dishonest, law breaking (illegalities, no Completion Certificate, etc) developers and allow them to breach sales contracts through this subterfuge law is beyond comprehension.

    And that you (and the Minister) think that these wronged buyers will meekly pay good transfer tax money for a worthless piece of paper. This is naive in the extreme.

    Finally, I am informed that you may be planning an article covering a more critical examination of the finally passed legislation. For your own good name I urge you to denounce this despicable clause.

  • Unbelievable says:

    @Andrew – The ‘System’ is very fit for a good purpose.

    TO PROTECT THE CYPRUS BUSINESSMEN !

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    Denton is correct, the Cypriots prefer the property market to Self destruct.

  • Andrew says:

    Other (permanent) provisions

    1.The simultaneous issuing of a building permit and a division permit is made possible.
    2.The issuing a Certificate of Approval and eventually Title Deeds for part of a project is also made possible.

    Will these two provisions still apply when a bank has an existing charge on undivided land. Will an outstanding developer mortgage prevent these provisions from being implemented.

    God may choose to help buyers, but this tinkering with a system which is unfit for purpose certainly will not.

  • andyp says:

    Quite right Denton. No real progress.

    Are we victims to be charged another fee in 3 years time?

    I do not see the point of anyone who is saddled with a developers mortgage paying for these waivers as they would still be unable to get their deeds.

    I would be interested to know how many will actually be helped by this legislation.

  • steveo says:

    The law was not adhered to so demolish it & start again while compensating any investors simple really.This amnesty is basically saying it’s okay within reason to skirt around the law.

    Let’s be honest it’s a green light for more planning discrepancies. Is this law just to protect those who are waiting or will it continue for an unforeseen amount of time into the future ?

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    Whichever way you cut it, the ‘system’ (current and when revised) is still a hideous monster designed to thwart buyers getting their deeds simply and quickly. It looks like, at best, a 7-15 year wait may be cut to a 5-year wait, as the same old bureaucrats and bureaucracy will be involved in the multiple evaluations prior to issue. The developer’s unpaid taxes of all sorts will still deny the buyer his deeds. The fact that so many vested interests lined up to ensure that the guts of the old system were kept intact tells us that they actually regard the self-destruction of their own property market as the lesser of two evils!

    As many have said before, these new laws fail to tackle fundamental problems of the current system, such as pre-existing developer mortgages, double-selling fraud etc etc.

    As many have also asked before, do they have a Plan B for when this one fails to revive the market, as it surely will?

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