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MEP supports those affected by the property scandals

This week, Sajjad Karim MEP gave his support to those UK citizens who have bought property in the Republic of Cyprus and have been affected by the on-going issues regarding the ownership of their homes.

Sajjad Karim MEP

Sajjad Karim MEP - Conservative Legal Affairs Spokesperson

IT IS believed that over 50,000 British buyers of Cypriot properties are yet to receive their Title Deeds and are thus not the legal owners of their homes. Under Cypriot law, Title Deeds and full legal ownership cannot be transferred to buyers until developer mortgages are settled in full.

The consequences of this for buyers are far-reaching and include being liable to high property charges; being burdened with huge legal fees; being unable to sell the property, and being encumbered with the mortgage of a developer who has gone bankrupt.

In light of this Mr Karim has co-signed, with his Conservative colleagues, a letter to the EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, asking for the EU to take action against unscrupulous property developers who are selling properties without giving information as to the ownership of the Title Deeds.

The letter to the Commission requests:

1. The Commission to confirm that, in its view, the practice of withholding property Title Deeds is, in all circumstances, an unfair commercial practice and thus an infringement of Directive 2005/29/EC (on Unfair Commercial Practices).

2. The Commission to confirm that the law applies to all current cases where Title Deeds have not yet been transferred, regardless of when any sales contract  was signed.

3. The Commission to recommend that the withholding of Title Deeds or legal ownership of immovable property after purchase be added to Annex 1 of Directive 2005/29/EC, which lists 31 “Commercial practices which are in all circumstances considered unfair”.

Commenting on this issue, Mr Karim said:

“As the Conservative Legal Affairs Spokesperson, I am very much aware of the problems regarding outstanding developer mortgages in Cyprus and the far-reaching consequences these are having on British individuals who have supposedly bought their homes outright.

“I am also acutely aware that the worsening economic conditions will only serve to exacerbate the problems caused by developers going into liquidation and therefore heighten the risks involved when buying a property in Cyprus.

“Along with my colleagues in the Conservative Group, I have continued to raise this matter with the European Commission and within the European Parliament.  I believe that continued pressure should be put on the EU Commission to act on, and intervene in, these wrongful practices by unscrupulous property developers, which are affecting thousands of EU citizens every year.”

To read more information about this issue, visit the Cyprus Property Action Group website.

About Sajjad Karim MEP

Sajjad was first elected to the European Parliament in 2004 and was re-elected in June 2009. He represents more than 7 million residents of the North West of England – covering Cumbria, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire.

In 2009, he was promoted to the Conservative front bench in the European Parliament as the Legal Affairs Spokesperson.

While visiting India as part of a European Parliament Committee on International Trade delegation, he was caught up in the Mumbai attacks in the lobby of the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel.

Sajjad qualified as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales in 1997 and became a partner in several specialist law practices across the North West of England, including his own practices in Pendle and Manchester.

His first taste of political life came when he was elected as a local Councillor on Pendle Borough Council in May 1994. He served in this role for eight years, during which time he held many key chairmanships.

Readers' comments

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  • Careful says:

    Lets hope this has nothing to do with Mr Karim’s historic support (as a Lib Dem) for the regime in the north.

  • Richard says:

    Excellent news.

    Whilst they are about it – they may want to examine the ‘fringe’ activity around this too. Namely:

    1) The dodgy UK property brokers who have all largely disappeared over the horizon with their nice fat commission payments – most totally unwilling to help their ‘clients’ seek any form of redress.

    2) The lawyers stitching up the ‘clients’ the brokers lined up for a fleecing.

    3) The banks offering little/no clear terms in writing for the services they were about to land on the ‘clients’ and who (of course) are now willing to accept no blame whatsoever.

    Even if they all acted ‘within the boundaries of the law’ at the time – and that needs some close examination – most of these ‘deals’ certainly weren’t acting in the boundaries of decency and ethics.

    Behind many great fortunes lies a crime!

  • Gavin Jones says:

    Sajjad Karim MEP.

    I commend you for your bold, public stand on this issue and the same goes for your MEP colleagues who have joined the fray.

    However, without wishing to be judgemental and overly cynical, I sincerely hope that your collective pronouncements and actions will have teeth, that the Cypriot regime (and I use the term in its pejorative sense) will be brought to heel and that justice will prevail. We shall see.

    I’m sure that I don’t have to labour the point that all roads to this sorry and scandalous tale lead to government as it is there that the buck truly stops. Without successive governments condoning the evil practices perpetrated by a large number of developers, banks and lawyers, the current predicament would not exist.

    I was especially interested to read about your legal background and wish to focus on the pivotal role of Cypriot lawyers in the island’s affairs.

    Historically, the road to influence and power in Cypriot society is via the legal ‘profession’, something which is well illustrated with many Ministers and the majority of Deputies (MPs) being lawyers. It therefore naturally follows that these individuals, and the judiciary in general, will inevitably develop strong relationships with those controlling the construction industry and banking. Need I say more?

    What makes the role of lawyers doubly heinous in the Title Deeds scandal is the fact that they should be protecting the rights and interests of their clients, and not those of their buddies in construction and finance. The number of cases, whereby purchasers have not been informed by their lawyers that mortgages encumbered the properties they wished to buy, are legion. The reality is that property buyers have been well and truly stitched up and the deception and economy with the truth continues with the regular pronouncements emanating from the Interior Minister. Some would use rather more colourful language but I couldn’t possibly comment.

    In short, the link between government and the judiciary continues to dominate and until and unless this unholy alliance is broken, the present status quo will persist.

  • Andrew says:

    Sajjad Karim WELL DONE! I hope that you can see this though to the rightful end.

    As a lawyer you must also take issue with the Cyprus Bar for allowing this to happen. If the lawyers in Cyprus had told their clients of these mortgages then most if not all, would never have bought in the first place. If we cannot trust our lawyers then whom can we trust?

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Well done and thank you to Sajjad.

  • Dee says:

    Title Deeds are also withheld if the developer does not pay his government taxes before Transfer. This is the other half of the problem, and the outcome to the purchaser is the same ie no issue of Title.

  • Sue says:

    Well done Sajjad, it’s nice to know your listening and reading your emails.

  • Milo says:

    Good! Another nail in the coffin.

  • Kufrahdog says:

    Thank you, Nigel, this is just the sort of encouragement we need, particularly as the CCPS appears to be rejecting applications on the grounds that the appropriate EU legislation was not in force in the Republic at the time some of us entered unknowingly into mortgage encumbered sales agreements.

  • John Swift says:

    We seriously considered moving to Cyprus in 2008, in 2007 we went to Buy Sell with a list of 20 properties on their books, only four had title deeds issued/available.

    In 2007 we stayed in a house in Tala built by Leptos in 1992, the owners still hadn’t received their title deeds. We said in 2008 when we saw for ourselves what an utter mess the situation was that the only way to go is through the MEPs.

    Hopefully things will soon be sorted out.

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