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Fighting a state-sponsored fleecing

Further instances of over zealous charging by Land Registries have been reported in what are believed to be efforts to boost the state’s ailing coffers by maximising the amount of transfer tax they collect.

A NEW kind of fraud is now manifesting itself, and it is sponsored by the state. A friend of mine was delighted when his developer called him to arrange an appointment with the Limassol Land Registry in order to collect his Title Deeds. It had only been five years since their contract was lodged and he and his wife were looking forward to the security of truly owning their property in Cyprus.

At the Land Registry they were dealt with by a very pleasant young lady who informed them that there was a problem with the valuation of their property and they would have to meet with her boss. He told them that their property had now been re-valued and was now worth a hundred thousand Euros more, which meant that they would have to find a further five thousand Euros in property transfer fees and that one of them should go to the bank and withdraw this money immediately.

Unfortunately for the Land Registry official, my friend was not born yesterday, has a colourful temperament and Birmingham street sense. He flatly refused, saying that he neither had the money, nor the inclination to participate in a fraudulent claim based on a mythical valuation that increased the value of property in a falling market. The official stated that they could not leave and it was the law that they should have their Title Deeds.

My friends refused and said they would only pay property transfer fees on what they paid for the property. They were left in his office for over half an hour, whilst a queue developed in the waiting room. The boss and the young assistant went away to consult his superior. How many bosses are we paying for with our taxes?

Eventually, nearly five hours after their arrival, my friends left the Land Registry having paid only the original sum for their Title Deeds. Therefore stubborn intransigence prevented this state sponsored fraud. Oh, and as an afterthought, the Land Registry pointed out that his property was comparable with the other two-storey properties with swimming pools in the same development. In reality he lives in a small bungalow with a compact garden too small to house a swimming pool.

Perhaps if some of the bosses in the Land Registry had done their jobs more thoroughly, they might have discovered this error!

See also: “Is a property only worth what someone will pay for it?

 

Readers' comments

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  • Richard says:

    @dimitri – echo your comments about a new generation. “Strangling the golden goose” is a national trait – but with persistence and enlightenment – let’s hope this new more ‘global village’ minded generation emerge out of the gloomy shadow of the old guard.

    On the issue of title deeds – is anyone keeping a record of situations like the one our friend from Birmingham faced? Ideally – specific numbers & names involved would be helpful if anyone is prepared to offer them up.

    We’ve had a breakthrough moment this week in as much as a Euro MEP has called for more data from us to put in front of Vivian Reding.

    A step forward..

  • dimitri says:

    @Gavin, thanks, and thanks to Nigel for his website….

  • Gavin Jones says:

    dimitri.

    Your candid observations are most welcome and are a breath of fresh air.

    Would that more like you speak out constructively about the real concerns that trouble a great many people.

    Too many use the deflection tactic of comparing issues that exist here to other countries and hence intimate that we shouldn’t be too bothered or surprised. Far too often we hear that nauseating refrain, “This is Cyprus”, which intimates that we as individuals should accept the status quo and refrain from speaking out and demanding change.

    It’s this attitude of resignation and apathy which is the enemy and I live in hope that the next generation will be more demonstrative and try to make a difference.

  • dimitri says:

    @Gavin, ta, you will be pleasantly surprised that there a few people out there who can tell right from wrong, funny thing is a lot of ‘us’ are spoilt, asked a friend of mine who got her deeds 8 years after her purchase, what this cost her? She replied don’t know? My father went and paid…

  • dimitri says:

    @Gavin, don’t want to go off topic here as Nigel will zap these comments, but others like me hmmm maybe? The government I am sorry to have observed are just concerned with juicy pay cheques and avoiding responsibility and accountability, apart from a handful of them that are the opposite and go out their way to help. I have heard time and time and time again, from people who have the intellect to distinguish between right and wrong comments like “that’s how it is In Cyprus” this comment made either when talking about the reckless driving on roads, or the lack of policing, or the state of public pathways, or even the shenanigans at the land registry! and other depts. The sooner theses old head go the better.

    I do not wish to tarnish all Cypriots with same brush(what I am about to say will do just that), but seems that most people born and raised anywhere but Cyprus seem to have more of moral standing and values in line with what is right and wrong than those born and bred here(I have heard this from locals themselves when talking about me, so I am not blowing my own trumpet)….I have to stress though that there are a ‘few good men out there’ and even developers believe it or not, I actually know one who was concerned about his employees welfare and made sure they did not overwork in the hot sun & made sure they were always paid on time! I think the youth who have taken time to study/live aboard and understand for example that queuing to get on a bus in an orderly way rather than pushing in makes sense, such people will help Cyprus in the future, until then who knows what will happen

  • Gavin Jones says:

    dimitri (7.42 p.m. yesterday).

    Acknowledge your comment.

    Are there others like you out there or are you purely a one-off? And I write this as a compliment.

  • dimitri says:

    church, hahahah biggest crook of them all, colleague of mine was on the same plane to Greece as a certain church official, would you expect a man of the church to be wearing a rolex? well he was,…..the many god fearing Cypriots still leave assets to the church once they pass away…..vicious circle

  • dimitri says:

    @James, ehmm let’s not forget, Greece, and for that matter Italy and the corruption at the top level in that country too, still doesn’t make the mess in Cyprus acceptable…..

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    When the Archbishop of Cyprus states the obvious the mainland Greeks deluded the EU to let Cyprus in can we expect anything different from the land registry.

    From the top downwards the Greek Cypriots have different values compared to other EU countries.

  • out of the frying pan into the fire says:

    I have said this before and I will say it again.

    Close one loop hole and they will find a new of robbing us. All we can do is to keep onto our Euro MPs and whatever country you are in and spread the word Cyprus is a very corrupt country.

    Try your local news paper a local story as you live in the area.

  • dimitri says:

    @Gavin, I am not condoning this rip off state in anyway, my comments were taken out of context, it was just a genuine question of whether or not the person mentioned in the article paid transfer fees based on the value of his property at purchase time purely through insisting on the matter? I say these scams are nice little earners for some and i have heard stories of backhanders to avoid being hammered by such ‘overvaluation’ tactics, again the buyer loses by having to pay the crooked officials anyway…ta

  • Gavin & dimitri – This is by no means an isolated occurrence. Writing in the Cyprus Mail just over a year ago, Charles Charalambous carried out an in-depth investigation and reported on the problem.

    See – Is a property only worth what someone will pay for it?

  • Gavin Jones says:

    dimitri (11.11 a.m.).

    Again, a valiant attempt by you to possibly give the authorities the benefit of the doubt and uphold Cypriot ‘honour’ when you write that “I guess the land registry backed down when they saw the error?”

    Do you, or indeed anyone else for that matter, truly believe that this could conceivably have been an “ERROR”? This was a crude, cynical and well orchestrated try on to extract monies and was nothing short of an absolute disgrace.

    For the record, I know of other such instances and believe me, these are not “errors” but a concerted instrument of policy.

  • dimitri says:

    Bit of good news, so I guess the land registry backed down when they saw the error? or did your friends insistence on paying the transfer fees based on purchase price of property do the trick? be interesting to know…

  • Martyn says:

    Yet another Outrage. Great that you have highlighted this for the benefit of other poor souls embroiled in the Great Cyprus Title Deeds Fiasco.

  • Stuart says:

    You couldn’t make it up, or could you?! What a den of thieves this place has become.

  • Dee says:

    This is not new; I got caught when purchasing a small shop-unit in 2007. On Transfer they ‘valued’ the property at C£5000 more than I had paid for it.

  • out of the frying pan into the fire says:

    For a television series running to nine shows on TV at prime time viewing. Cyprus property scandals, fraud, corruption, murder, ( Russian Man ) threats, shootings (Conor O Dwyer ) dishonest Lawyers , Banks , developers, the list goes on.

    This is a gift for a script writer.

    And your right only one problem, it’s all true.

  • andyp says:

    Now there is a surprise.

    How have values increased when every bit of available data suggests there has been a substantial decline in Cyprus house values in recent years?

  • Costas Apacket says:

    In con-land anything is possible.

    Maybe the extra 5K was to repay the portion of the developer’s debt to the bank?

    Title Deeds are just the start of the con-land crooked pipeline.

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    FAO Interior Minister

    Can you explain this ?

  • Gavin Jones says:

    Yet another example of double-dealing openly being touted not by developers, lawyers and banks this time, but by the state.

    I recall that popular radio series,’The Archers’, which was described as “A simple tale of country folk”, or something similar. Are these people ‘simple’ or just plain sleazy, crooked or a combination of all three plus a whole host of other appropriate adjectives.

    I wonder what further scam concoctions are in the pipeline, are likely to be manufactured by the government and foisted onto unsuspecting, law abiding citizens…

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