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MEP designates Cyprus a “No Buy Zone”

A Scottish MEP is warning people not to buy property on the Mediterranean island where many of his constituents are being badly stung after not receiving Title Deeds for the properties they have bought.

MEP Alyn Smith has warned Scots not to buy property in Cyprus at all after receiving a flood of complaints from constituents about their dealings in the country.

From the complaints he has received, Smith has drawn the conclusion that Cyprus has a particular problem with dubious property deals and the Cypriot authorities have clearly dragged their feet on resolving the thousands of outstanding cases.

An estimated 40,000 overseas buyers are awaiting formal legal ownership of their properties, despite having paid in full for the property and received the keys. Title Deeds, which are officially referred to as “Certificates of Registration of Immovable Property”, are the most important evidence of property ownership, but with so few people receiving the documents after paying hundreds of thousands of pounds for houses and apartments, confidence from potential buyers is at an all time low.

Last year, Smith raised a question in the European Parliament on the subject of Cypriot legal and property rights.

Smith has also written to Demetris Christofias, the President of Cyprus, asking for his assistance in this matter and had suggested that the President may wish to consider establishing a foreign investor advice service, or an impartial ombudsman to assist in such cases. After 2 letters and 6 months Smith has never heard a word back from the Cypriot President, and now advises Scots considering buying property in Cyprus to look elsewhere.

Smith said:

“Buying property abroad to live, work or retire is one of your key freedoms of EU citizenship, and many folk have a great time and good luck to them.  However, it can go wrong, and folk need to be prepared and take proper advice.

“Problems are clearly on the rise, and a lot of folk have clearly signed up to deals that aren’t half as good as they looked.  Loads of folk have come to me for help and some stories of exploitation and fraud are pretty hair-raising but the fact is there is little I or anyone else can do.  There can be dodgy property deals anywhere, but as with deals at home asking the right questions in advance can save a lot of heartache later so the guide might save some folk some problems.

“I’m afraid I have concluded Cyprus has a particular problem, and I think people should steer clear of the place.  I contacted the Cypriot President to try and resolve some of these problems and I did not even get a response, and I’m just not convinced the Cypriot authorities are treating this with any urgency at all.”

Read Euan Duguid article in the Sunday Post – Cyprus property deals leave Scots facing ruin

Readers' comments

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  • John Swift says:

    It amazes me that anyone with the slightest bit of interest regarding buying property in Cyprus would even consider a purchase without the title deeds being issued.

    In my opinion the real culprits here are the conveyencing solicitors who allow completion without warning their clients of the possible problems that could arise at a later date.

  • andyp says:

    Mike. I think the answer is probably not. Perhaps it may just be younger new buyers who are caught up in this problem but are totally unaware of the situation. It does not seem to be reported in the Cypriot papers. Cypriots are however beginning to come round and a few are on this forum who have realised that we are not just whinging Brits but we and they have actually been shafted. A recent letter by a Cypriot to the Financial Mirror confirms this but more Cypriot involvement is needed before the Banks come knocking on their door too.

    As far as MEP’s are concerned Alyn is only one but I also recall Graham Watson and obviously Daniel Hannan being fairly vocal, but we need more.

    This story was run in two Scottish newspapers over the weekend but potentially there are plenty more victims south of the border. Anyone know any journalists?

  • Mike says:

    To all the good people of Cyprus – are you even aware of what your Government is doing to the reputation of your Country? I would think not.

    The incestuous relationships your deputies have with their legal brethren and the power of the Developers and Banks over those deputies, all caught up in the fraud that is property sales to foreigners, is undermining the honesty and integrity of the everyday common or garden Cypriot which we have all come to trust & love. That trust & love has been severely tested by those in positions of power who, by their inaction, obviously care not one jot for Cyprus & its people.

    When will any of them have the decency and backbone to hold their hands up & admit things are not right and that the issue will be solved.

    Any mention of Cyprus holding the rotating EU presidency is an affront to common decency, natural justice, morality and integrity.

    Alyn Smith MEP at least has the moral fibre to highlight the wrongs, where are the public statements from other MEP’s not afraid to stand up for what is right and more importantly what have they done to address the issue.

  • mikey be says:

    Christofias as EU president? What fantastic opportunities that’s going to present us with to protest at any meetings or functions he attends during his ‘reign’. As president of Cyprus, the news generally doesn’t care a jot about him; but as EU president, they’ll be lots of cameras around him all the time :)

  • David says:

    When is the British Government going to act over the scandal that is the Cypriot property market. Where oh where is the English MEP’s when you need them.

    I don’t have a property in Cyprus.. but would have loved to retire to Cyprus. However having done our homework we would currently never even consider such a move.

    Even Spain looks a better bet now that they have/are cleaning up their act !!

  • Steve says:

    We signed the papers to buy our apartment the week that Cyprus entered the EU, May 2003. This was no coincidence; we believed that EU standards and regulations would apply in Cyprus and it was going to be safe to buy property. We were wrong. We have read in the intervening years many comments, including comments on this web site, often beginning with the words “Surely the EU……”. Now we have it from the horses mouth that the EU cannot do anything to help.

    Alyn Smith said,

    “Loads of folk have come to me for help and some stories of exploitation and fraud are pretty hair-raising but the fact is there is little I or anyone else can do.”

    It’s down to the affected property buyers to campaign for public support for a European boycott of the Cyprus property market, until the government fixes the problems by its own free will. We will make more progress with the resurrected Cyprus Property Action Group than with the EU. God help us all.

  • andyp says:

    I could not agree more with Alyn Smith’s advice.

    Until The Cyprus Government, Developers, Lawyers and Banks start feeling the pinch in their income there will be no change.

    Well done Alyn. Hopefully your fellow 71 MEPs will step up to the plate and at least sign the joint letter to the EU.

  • Gandolph says:

    I’d like to add my thanks to Alyn Smith for stepping up the warning to would be buyers in Cyprus.

    The comments the contributors below bear testament to the very real fears people have of how Cyprus has ignored the plight of own citizens and those from other EU countries who were promised fair play but received nothing; not even an acknowledgement to letters etc.

    We must warn people to refrain from investing in the Cyprus property market till the whole corrupt debacle is dealt with. Properly.

    With regard to next June when Christofias struts his stuff as President of the EU, I cannot think of a better way of giving credence to a regime that couldn’t even run a bath.

    Do everyone a favour and ban Cyprus from holding any form of office till it gets it’s own house in order.

  • TRNC victim says:

    Thank God Alyn Smith has realized what is happening in Cyprus! just how long will it take for other MEPs to follow suit?

  • Andrew says:

    Maybe the EU should start imposing sanctions on Cyprus instead of handing them money.

    Thank you MEP Alyn Smith. Please bring this matter to the attention of all your colleagues.

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    Please listen carefully as I shall say this only once (more, after saying it hundreds of times on this forum).

    In the words of Alyn Smith, MEP.

    “the fact is there is little I or anyone else can do”.

    As the French say, “Sauve qui peut”.

    It is not defeatism, negativity, allowing evil to prosper etc. It is simply not throwing good money after bad and boy, the amounts they’ll be asking for in order for us to keep hold of our valueless asset are many times more than what we’ve already forked out! I have a spreadsheet…

    In response to an earlier post, I was tempted to make a comment about the Judenrat to those saying “It’s not that bad, we can lobby this and organise that and an Erik the Viking EU ship will rescue us”, but I didn’t as it’s far too emotive.

    We now know Cyprus and what they do here. We’ve known who the EU are for years and what they do. There’s only one logical conclusion…

  • paul lambert says:

    Every British MEP should take the same stance and then perhaps people in Cyprus will realise in just what low esteem they are held. I have followed all the advice from my MEP about exhausting every avenue in Cyprus before the EU will get involved.

    I have now waited in vain to get an answer back from the CCPS but they are not even polite enough to acknowledge receipt of my correspondence. Perhaps sticking your head in a bucket of sand has become common practice in Cyprus.

    I for one will organise some sort of protest in London, however large or small, to make people aware of the idiocy of Cyprus ever being put in the position of being in charge of anything other than their tin pot little island (and that is not aimed at ‘normal’ Cypriots, just the people in charge!)

    If they are allowed to take the presidency of the EU then it will show just what an incompetent organisation the EU are. Imagine the Cypriots in charge of Europe ! – Lock the title Deeds of your house somewhere safe !

  • jon frazer says:

    Very good news; a big “thank you” to Mr Alyn Smyth MEP, and wishing him all success with taking this further. Good that he has had some hands-on experience of Christofias and his ways prior to Cyprus’ big moment next year.

    I cannot add anything substantially to what Gavin Jones has written below which accurately and honestly summarises the matter.

    Finally, I was thinking along the same lines as Denton Mackrell (below) and only yesterday browsing the list of other consulates and embassies here in Cyprus, with a view to emailing them in a pre-emptive way, perhaps saving some other nationalities from the potential pitfalls.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    Better late than never. Will we now see the other UK MEPs following suit? And what about MEPs representing constituents in other EU member states who have been shafted? Although the Brits are the largest contingent, we know that buyers from Ireland, Germany and Scandinavian countries have also been victims.

  • Gavin Jones says:

    Alyn Smith MEP.

    Thank you indeed for nailing your colours to the mast and exposing the Cypriot regime for what it is – and I use the term in its pejorative sense. Many of us would describe the government, developers, lawyers and financial institutions here in more colourful terms ranging from overtly corrupt, self-serving to downright criminal.

    Over the years, many of us have employed several approaches by attending meetings with Cypriot Ministers, department heads, appearances in court and other avenues but mostly to no avail. Every so often meaningless and risible parliamentary bills, which purport to alleviate the Title Deed quagmire, are offered as sops to our collective intelligence in the vain hope that we, and the problem, will simply go away.

    In addition and as I’m sure you’re aware, tactics of a more bullying nature are used.

    One example involved the Cyprus Property Action Group being hauled before the courts on a trumped up charge before the instigator, a leading ‘developer’, ignominiously withdrew.

    The second was the Conor O’Dwyer cause celebre when a suspended sentence was handed down to the ‘developers’ who’d beaten to a pulp the defendant in the case, Mr. O’Dwyer.

    These are not isolated instances.

    We as individuals can only do so much and we rely heavily on those such as yourself to do whatever it takes to rectify the wrongdoing that is so blatantly taking place here. The 40,000 expatriates without title deeds represent approximately 5% of the population: imagine if that were translated to the U.K with a population of 60 million. This gives you an indication of the scale of the scandal. (This does not take into consideration the 90,000 Cypriots who, for one reason or another, are in the same situation).

    I have one question. In view of the above, do you and your colleagues in the European Parliament consider that Cyprus is deserving, let alone capable, of holding the EU Presidency in 2012?

    I would like to refer you to the related news article attached to this story entitled ‘Cyprus government in incestuous relationships’. You’ll note that it was published in July 2009 and confirms that nothing has changed since then.

    Finally, I thank you one again for your efforts in highlighting this topic. I trust that despite what must be a busy schedule as an MEP, you’ll continue to give the situation here as much attention as you can and that justice will prevail.

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