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We will get your Title Deeds for a price

A number of organisations have contacted buyers who have yet to receive Title Deeds for their property offering to apply for their issuance under the recently passed ‘Town Planning Amnesty’ laws.

Title Deeds for a priceOVER the past few days, hundreds of people who have bought property in Cyprus without Title Deeds have been targeted by a number of organisations offering to submit applications to the authorities on their behalf for the issuance of their deeds. The cost of their ‘services’ ranges between €1,000 and €4,000 plus VAT.

One of these organisations is a well-known real-estate company. In its email to its current and former clients, the company says:

  • The absence of Title Deed is dangerous, especially now that many developers are struggling financially due to the economic crisis.
  • The issuing of a Title Deed adds significant value to a property, which can be mortgaged at any Bank if desired.
  • A property with Title Deed also attracts many more buyers and enables a resale transaction to proceed in a far more straightforward manner.
  • The most important factor however, is that Title Deed gives absolute and undisputed ownership of your property.

All of the points above are valid; buying a property without Title Deeds is indeed dangerous as many of this company’s clients now realise!

Regrettably however, it seems that this company may have failed to advise its clients of this danger when they first purchased their property.

Planning amnesty laws

The recently approved law requires the developer to move towards securing Title Deeds for his/her customers and to carry out all that is necessary to ensure that those Deeds are issued in a timely manner so that they can be transferred without delay.

The new planning laws state that if a property has been completed to specification and there are no planning irregularities, the project architect may file plans for a division so that the Title Deeds will be issued “very soon after without more red tape“.

However, if the property or development suffers from major planning irregularities, these must be corrected.

If the property or development suffers from minor planning irregularities, then the developer or the buyer (or any person with a valid interest in the property) can submit a form of intent to go through the “planning amnesty” process. This form of intent has to be submitted to the authorities by 8th October this year. (The necessary application forms will be made available in English so that buyers wishing to take matters into their own hands may do so).

Providing that any planning infringements fall within the scope of the amnesty provisions, the applicant will be able to apply for a ‘Certificate of Final Approval’; a necessary stage in the process of the issuing of Title Deeds.

Depending on the nature and extent of any infringements, a fine may be payable. For example, if  a property has been overbuilt the applicant will be required to pay a penalty to legalise the infringement. Minor infringements that are not due to overbuilding may be corrected by plantings, landscaping and by other means.

However, if the planning infringement is major, the process will ultimately result in the issuance of a Title Deed containing a statement about the offending part of the property. Depending on the severity of a major infringement, this statement may prevent the sale of the property or will allow its sale providing that certain conditions are met.

(Note that in any event Property Transfer Fees will have to be paid to transfer title.)

Is it worth it?

The quoted service charge of €1,000 – €4,000 (plus VAT) is unrelated to the actual cost of securing Title Deeds. To secure their deeds buyers will also have to pay:

  • Where appropriate, an element of the developer’s mortgage on the land. (E.g. If the developer owes €1 million on a development of 10 properties, each buyer could offer to pay €100,000 to obtain a mortgage release from the bank).
  • Where appropriate, a charge to correct any planning irregularities imposed by the authorities dealing with the planning amnesty.
  • In circumstances where the developer is unwilling or unable to provide a ‘tax clearance certificate’ to the Land Registry, buyers will only be able to obtain their Title Deeds if they pay the developer’s tax liabilities themselves.
  • Property Transfer Fees to the Land Registry which are based on the market value of the property at its date of sale.

Buyers wishing to recover these costs (excluding Property Transfer Fees) may sue their developer. This will involve additional legal and court fees and there is no guarantee that the court will rule in their favour when their case is eventually heard.

Advice

Those who have purchased property and who have yet to receive its Title Deed need to write to the Competition and Consumer Protection Service. More details and suggested letter templates on the Cyprus Property Action Group website.

Readers' comments

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  • Costas Apacket says:

    Nigel – Thanks for the info, but if my Developer/ Architect are anything to go by, I’ll never know about any irregularities until they’re ready to tell me. This is usually at a point where they can take full advantage of anything that may be going at the time.

  • @Costas Apacket – Assuming you bought from a property developer, he will know. And as I wrote in the article:

    The law requires the developer to move towards securing Title Deeds for his/her customers and to carry out all that is necessary to ensure that those Deeds are issued in a timely manner so that they can be transferred without delay. (‘All that is needed’ includes, where necessary, applying to have any planning infringements legalised as this is a necessary precursor to issuing Title Deeds).

    If you had an individual house built, like me, then your architect will know.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    I know that this is slightly off topic, but, with regard to the new Planning Amnesty Laws, it’s still not clear to me how individual property purchasers actually discover whether their property does or does not have any planning irregularities?

    Who actually tells them and at what stage are they told?

  • @Denton Mackrell – I can confirm that one of the outfits offering this ‘service’ is a legal firm whose name appears in a number of other articles here.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @Nigel. Thanks for posting your other piece on the ‘Pollard person’. Despite the hard-core of local spivs, it is clear there are still others (non-Cypriots) trying it on. High integrity Cypriot lawyers that I know fulminate at all the damage being done by all these chancers. Is it correct that at least one of the outfits offering this ‘get your deeds service’ is a high profile Cyprus lawyer?

    Yesterday, a foreigner I know who has already bought an apartment reported that her husband has been approached recently by a well known Cyprus lawyer who berated him for not buying his property through him as he is so closely connected to a particular developer and could have got him a much better property at a much lower price and my friend would not have needed his own lawyer!! This was not done in a jocular fashion but in an overbearing, menacing way. Apart from the sheer audacity, it’s hard to see what benefit this idiot imagines he is gaining by such behaviour. Perhaps he was hoping my friends would be in the market for a second purchase. Maybe, but definitely not involving him!

  • Dream No More says:

    @Nigel Howarth

    I just came across your article and your comment on 22 June at 7.36 and I do agree with you that some “..people use the opportunity to make comments as a way of taking a pop at others..” and that “..they should take heed of the comment guideline”

    Actually you have put it very mildly. From my own experience and observation, a number of posters here-they know who they are-will use any and every opportunity what ever the subject not just to take “a pop at others” but to denigrate everything that has to do with Cyprus and the GC. They make it their business to do just that and any subject will do. I have come across them previously and crossed swords on the same subject but to no avail.

    Their views are so estranged and their hatred towards Cyprus so out of all proportion that they have become the zealots of their own prejudice.

  • A quick update on this story. There is now yet another unscrupulous company targeting vulnerable individuals with an offer of help – for the greatly reduced fee of €1,000!

    I have updated the text of the story accordingly.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @Peter Howard. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt overall. However, when you said that ‘many buyers’ have only themselves to blame that implies a significant proportion and perhaps a majority. This just will not do. The BHC list is used by ‘many buyers’ but, as various have posted, it is by no means perfect or comprehensive. You also mention the UK Bar Council (and presumably the Law Society) as a source of lawyers but they are irrelevant in Cyprus.

    Regretably, the Cyprus Bar Association is as useful as a chocolate teapot as far as ‘many buyers’ are concerned and only exists to protect its lawyer members from any kind of challenge, criticism or allegation. Were you unaware that the Disciplinary Board of Advocates is actually chaired by the Attorney General as a means to ensure that no allegation of misconduct, fraud or negligence ever succeeds?

    @Nigel. Thanks for reminding us that the police will not register any report by a buyer of alleged property fraud much less investigate it. This appears to be not one of lack of interest or sympathy on their part but because they have been instructed not to do so from higher authority. The AG has determined on his own authority that in Cyprus allegations of property related fraud are to be treated as civil and not criminal cases – unless he personally says otherwise in a particular case. So far, I am aware of only one case in which he has authorised a police investigation – the notorious Famagusta case. Whether the fact that most of the alleged victims were Cypriots had any bearing on his decision is not known.

  • @Peter Howard – Everyone is welcome to contribute with their point of view. I know there are reputable lawyers, developers, estate agents and property developers here.

    Unfortunately, some people use the opportunity to make comments as a way of taking a pop at others. They should take heed of the comment guidelines – and in particular “Please keep all comments on-topic and relevant to the substance of the original article“.

    The enforcement of the law is virtually non-existent in many circumstances. As Denis O’Hare pointed out it is a criminal offence to occupy a building that has not been issued with a ‘Certificate of Final Approval’. But this law is almost universally flouted – unless it suits the authorities to take action.

    As I mentioned earlier, I lived in my house for more than six years without a ‘Certificate of Final Approval’ and no action was taken against me. However, in Paphos for example a number of people have been repeatedly summonsed to appear in court for breaking this particular law.

    People have also reported cases of fraud to the police who have refused to investigate. Some of these cases are so blatant they beggar belief. Yet the police are just not interested in helping.

    These, and other, problems bring the rule of law into question. Why do the authorities and the police enforce some laws and not others? Why do the authorities act against some people and not others? Why do the police not investigate cases of fraud?

    It’s like playing roulette – you might win, you might lose. But the wheel appears to be loaded in the banks’ and developers’ favour.

    Even the Central Bank appears to be in on the act. In its latest economic bulletin, it reported that property prices fell by 2.5% in 2010. This is absolute cr*p! The RICS (Cyprus) figures showed that average property prices fell by more than 9% in 2010 (and some people question this as being too low).

    Given the environment in which properties are sold and the problems they’ve had to face I fully understand those who will not put their trust in anyone, regardless of how respectable and honest they may appear.

  • Peter Howard says:

    WOW – maybe as a seller of property I should have kept out of this forum !! Nowhere did I say that all buyers are to blame for their situation – I just said in MANY situations buyers are to blame. If buying a house in England – most people would not dream of using a lawyer recommended to them by the seller – so why when they come to Cyprus do they trust one recommended by the developer? Why not use a lawyer recommended by the English High Commission or one registered to the Bar Association in England where standards are higher – or personal recommendation. A good lawyer is the most important part of a property transaction – few buyers spend much time researching this.

    On behalf of my business I would be very happy if Cyprus cleaned up its act overnight and everybody was granted Title Deeds – but this is not going to happen – however thanks to pressure by hard working people like Nigel Howarth – the situation definitely seems to be improving. We can certainly do without scare tactics by Buy Sell – one month saying all the banks are going bankrupt – now telling everybody that if they send large amounts of money – they will solve all the problems. I am tired of emails from them – and customers asking if it is genuine – several thinking that they will avoid Transfer Tax !!

    In reply to Costas Apacket – I recently got together with like minded estate agents with the idea of forming an ethical association, only using the most reputable lawyers, and developers. We even discussed a levy to be paid by the agents on each sale, to be used to finance a client should problems arise. This did not get off the ground as it was felt that various organisations would criticise us for trying to capitalising on a difficult situation.

    I congratulate Nigel Howarth on the work that he does, to try and help people with problems – how does he do it ? I recently tried to give free advice to 4 people who had problems after buying through MRI Overseas – within days my mail box was full with other MRI customers seeking advice !!

  • Mike says:

    @Nigel

    Probably via the scam that is Cyprus. Far too complicated for me to even begin to understand how, unless they bought a data base from Cyta or someone similar.

    In any event how can anyone be trusted who spells specialised and organisation utilising a ‘Z’ instead of an ‘S’. Yes we know the Americanisms are creeping into the language and keyboards are American or British English with a default to American. I assume that as the selling methods (at any cost) are based on American models that is where the heart lies, trouble is our Colonial Cousins were never blessed with with the capacity for etiquette or class, mistakenly thinking, like some others I know, that money can buy it. Sadly, as is painfully evident, it can’t. “The Mercedes doth not make the man”

    Keep up the good work Nigel, you are providing an invaluable service to many – if only others would take heed. It would save tears & regrets later. Like you I am over the moon with our purchase but I do feel for those who have been duped.

  • @Mike – there are a number of organisations offering this ‘service’.

    I have received THREE emails from Ms McKenzie to different email addresses even though I have never had dealings with the firm.

    Like yourself, I have the Title Deeds to my property.

    I wonder how BuySell managed to get our email addresses?

  • Mike says:

    I have had a lovely email from a Heather McKenzie at Buy Sell, a passage from which is below if it helps anyone:-

    BuySell is the only specialized organization in Cyprus with a dedicated TITLE DEEDS DEPARTMENT. We are ready to proceed the matters on your behalf and issue your property Title Deeds.

    The cost of dealing with all Title Deed issuing procedures is:

    1. 1,500 Euro for the Architect/Civil Engineer.
    2. 1,500 Euro for Tax Clearance and other accounting expenses.
    3. 1,000 Euro for Legal and document preparation fees.
    (above fees are subject to 15% VAT)

    Now I may be a bit naive but I have my title deeds, I did it myself but it cost me next to nothing. Nice work if you can get it but tell me, would it not have been a little more ethical & appropriate to have told customers this before they paid out for property rather than wait until now. I can only assume anyone taking up this offer is either seriously stupid, on release from a secure institution and in need of some serious therapy and/or needing an education, obviously never having heard of the saying “throwing good money after bad”. But that is merely my opinion for what it’s worth.

    Of course one must have sympathy with those who just want title in order to sell up & leave the con men to wallow in their own lies. Some are that desperate & will clutch at any opportunity, I wonder if this is why this service is being offered – at a price! As a Christian Country I cannot believe that is the case so I must be totally naive and mistaken!

  • Regarding the ‘Certificate of Final Completion‘, I understand that discussions are continuing regarding further changes to the law.

    It has been proposed that the project’s supervising architect should issue the Certificate of Final Approval (providing that everything is OK). I believe that areas under discussion relate to the penalties/sanctions to be imposed on architects who issue these Certificates incorrectly.

    (Taking my own case as an example. I took delivery of my home around Easter 2004 – and it took the local planning department until October 2010 to carry out their inspection and issue a Certificate of Final Completion).

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @Peter Howard. Some of what you say may be true but a similar problem arises with identifying a ‘safe’ estate agent here as with lawyers – it’s down to luck or recommendation. All agents and lawyers present themselves as paragons of excellence and virtue and, unless a prospective buyer has been warned off particular parasites, there is no way of telling who can be trusted. In such a climate, I can therefore see that you have an uphill battle on your hands to convince anyone of your bona fides.

    The problems experienced by buyers here are real and immense. It is not accurate to say that those complaining are just a vociferous minority and satisfied customers are a silent majority. I know hundreds of buyers personally and cannot think of one who has not had a problem and is satisfied. Some (of the 120,000) have been waiting ‘only’ eight or more years for their deeds whereas others have experienced more serious issues of alleged fraud – but none of those I know writes to the newspapers or on these blogs.

    I also do not accept your implication (similarly made by many apologists for the scandal) that somehow it’s all the fault of daft buyers. Certainly when I bought here some 7 years ago, developers+agents+lawyers were exceptionally economical with the truth. There was a deliberate attempt to hide and, in some cases, falsify the facts so that any normal due diligence checks would be satisfied but misleading. Now overall the industry is reaping what it has sown. I do not shed a tear for them.

    I wish you well with your efforts and I think you will be more likely to succeed if you drop the denial and blaming buyers for their misfortune.

  • Denis O'Hare says:

    @Peter Howard

    It is good to know that there are some people out there who say they have scruples and who want to do a decent job, unfortunately because of the scandalous state of the property industry and the lack of law enforcement it is simply not possible to fully safeguard the purchase of a new property – even for you.

    For example, and given that this article is about the amnesty law, with regards to the Completion Certificate law (Cap96/Article 10) this states that the certificate must be issued before the buyer takes occupancy otherwise both the buyer and developer are breaking criminal law. Clearly the law (and the provisions are still there under the new laws) is there to protect the buyer and to make sure that what they have bought is fully legal.

    Due to this law not being enforced in the past (or adhered to even by the so-called ‘good’ developers – and buyers’ lawyers) we now have the situation where some buyers will be handed ‘tainted’ title deeds which mean that they cannot sell or mortgage their property. This effectively makes the property worthless. Others will have to fork out to have the illegalities corrected. Many of these buyers have waited years for this pleasure.

    Could I ask whether all the new properties you sell have Completion Certificates issued before handover to the buyer? – or just some of them? – or maybe none of them? and do you inform buyers of this risk when you are selling to them? Do all of these so-called good developers even apply for the Completion Certificate before they allow buyers to move in?

    Furthermore, since December 2007 under the Unfair Commercial Practices law agents such as yourself are legally bound to inform potential buyers of all material facts which had they been revealed might have influenced the buyer’s decision.

    Don’t you agree that a property being illegal and the buyer potentially ending up with tainted title deeds, and breaking criminal law in the meantime, is a material fact?

    By the way, the contract cancellation fees you limit have always been illegal and are now construed as aggresive acts of exploitation under the unfair commercial practices law.

    Finally, you were doing fairly well until you started blaming the buyers – always your industry’s get out clause!

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Well Saint Peter, it’s nice to know there are some scrupulous Estate Agents out their, however few their numbers may be.

    Have you tried to form any associations with other like minded Estate Agents or related companies in Cyprus at all?

    It would be nice to think that in time, through such associations and pressure exerted on the powers that be, that the scales could start to tip the balance in favour of Luke Skywalker and the rest of us fighting against the ‘Dark Side’.

  • Peter Howard says:

    Nice to see the situation summed up so well. I am pleased that Nigel Howarth is advising people correctly on this new money making idea – by a company that was once the largest real estate agent on the island.

    I have to admit to being one of the ‘evil’ people – a real estate agent !!! I note many of the comments on this forum and others about people being ripped off – and we all know that this is quite common – but I have to tell you that there are thousands of people who are happy with their properties and with living in Cyprus. They just do not go on forums and complain – this is mainly people who have encountered problems, and seeking advice and help. If you read the problem page in any daily paper – you would think that everybody has a problem with their love life !!

    I have been here 6 years and run a totally independent agency in the Polis and Paphos area, and have not yet had any problems at all with any sales – we are not all wanting to run multinational businesses – and ripping people off. I agree that most of the lawyers here in Cyprus are either crooked or incompetent – but having been here some time – we know who these people are and avoid them. It is the same with developers – some are good and honest – some total rogues. One developer that we work with in Paphos, usually obtains full Title Deeds within 3 years, on all of his developments – some other developers, as you all know, can take many years. Two large developers that we know off – recommend a totally ‘Independent’ law firm, but in real life – the owners live together !!

    We find these forums extremely frustrating !! We are a totally straightforward and honest business, clients that come to us are well looked after, and no problems. Therefore annoying when we see potential clients going to one of these rogue firms – because they think that they are getting a special deal !! However i have to say that in many situations the buyers are to blame – they get off the aeroplane and lose their brains !! I have lost count of the number of times that a client comes to Cyprus, intending to look at different areas, properties from different agencies and developers – then buy the first property that they see !! Or people that have come to buy one apartment ‘off plan’ and end up buying 2 – because they are told that they can ‘flip’ one apartment and make a quick profit.

    All of our clients are shown a range of properties, the Title Deed situation explained, introduced to a good Independent lawyer, and if a new property – we add clauses that limit the contract cancellation fees, and if there is a developer mortgage – we get a bank waiver – so that the client is protected. Please do not ‘tar’ all agents with the same ‘brush’ – some of us work hard for our clients – and remain friends with them for many years.

  • andyp says:

    My last comment on the subject Nigel.

    Two wrongs do not make a right.

    Your efforts and those of the CPAG are very much appreciated. But did you and they sign up for this 24/7 task of trying to help others. I doubt it. Have you had a day off recently?

    Therefore it is not just a few such as myself and Steve.

    This legislation has been designed to protect the guilty. No other reason other than trying to steal more money from victims.

    Can’t be bothered using more politically correct words

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    Nigel,

    About the Bad Apples What can be done about them who is there to protect Seller/buyer home owner.

    Even this morning the CBA have replied to a old lady who went to the President of the CBA for help after her lawyer would not communicate with her after a visit by VIP to remind her lawyer that Paphos was a family. !!

    The CBA said the President of the CBA was not responsible for the conduct off lawyers !! and she must pay 68 euros for the Disciplinary Board (which on average takes 3 years) and as discussed on the property forum seems to have only found one case in favour off the clients in living memory.

    Is it 100% safe to purchase in Cyprus using a independent lawyer ?

    NO !

  • @andyp @Steve – I appreciate that you have both had some bad experiences with buying property.

    However there are many people, including myself, who have bought in Cyprus without any problems.

    You will always get some bad apples in the barrel – and yes, Cyprus does have more than it’s fair share – particularly in the areas favoured by expatriates.

    I have no doubt that there will be naive people who will take up offers like the one above without reading agreements or questioning what they are signing up for.

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    AndyP is right nothing will change clients/people will be ripped off by lawyers.

    As the Cyprus Bar Association position is to protect its members not the clients, so rogue lawyers will continue to operate secure in the knowledge there union will protect them.

    Now as you see a Real Estate company jumps on the bandwagon to obtain money from people. It appears Cyprus is hell bent on continuing its artful ways.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    As other commentators have noted, the Cyprus property parasites are having to invent new ways to fleece innocent newcomers.

    The Brits led the way in being fleeced, then recognizing the Cyprus Title Deeds-cum-Fraud Scandal and campaigning for credible reforms and justice. That has taken a good 6 years and the battle has still not been won. Meanwhile, the parasites have turned their attention to Russian lambs but luckily many individual Russian buyers have learned from the Brits’ demise and refuse to buy without Title Deeds. Developers, agents, sellers and Russian friends all report to me the same story. A handful of innocents will always slip through the net but nowhere near the numbers expected by the parasites or indeed needed to save their necks and the property market.

    That leaves new scams against individual buyers, as reported on this post, and against gullible ‘South Sea Bubble’ type investors as reported elsewhere on this site. A sign of desperation, perhaps.

  • andyp says:

    Nigel. What I was meaning was that I have been turned in to a Cyprus cynic. You really can’t trust any lawyer and you only find that out when it is too late.

    I interviewed 3 and read any papers/publications I could find. All said the same or similar. Contract your saviour. Titles delayed because of the war. All crap as we now know.

    My advice is trust none of them, never pay them a fee for what is rightfully yours and get your money out.

    These so called professionals have ruined too many peoples lives. Many friends I have met and come across on the internet have been totally screwed by these greedy liars. Let them suffer. Sorry but that is how I feel.

    Cyprus. Wish I had never heard of the place.

  • Steve says:

    @Nigel
    You make my point exactly. When a solicitor on the list is found wanting, then the list is changed, but that is too late for the buyers who have used him/her in the meantime. The BHC list is about as safe as a roulette wheel.

  • Andrew says:

    It is hardly surprising that these agents are trying to fleece more money from the hapless souls waiting for the title deeds which they should have already been given. They are short of business and think people will fall for another scam.

    @Nigel . It would be nice to see those lawyers who are listed by the BHC offer a written guarantee that their clients will be fully protected or fully reimbursed if they fail to protect their clients.

    Buying a house that has been issued with its Title Deeds, more or less excludes all new build property .

  • @carl gibbins – There’s a government tax, Property Transfer Fees, that you will have to pay. These are the equivalent of the UK’s Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).

    More information at ‘Property Transfer Fees‘.

  • carl gibbins says:

    How much will it cost to receive title deeds? We bought a property from a developer 2 years ago.

  • @Steve – The BHC list was completely replaced a couple of years ago by the (then) Property Officer at the BHC in Nicosia.

    Since then there have been very few changes. The list is now reviewed regularly and if people have problems with any lawyer on the list, it is vital that they report this to the BHC so that they may take appropriate action.

    (There are a several articles here about how to deal with Immovable Property Tax scams – just search for “Immovable Property Tax scam” – without the “”).

  • Steve says:

    I would advise any purchaser to be very wary of the BHC list of Solicitors. Periodically, the list undergoes some drastic changes and many firms are removed from it. These changes are predominantly for one reason: feedback to the BHC from dissatisfied customers. I was one of them after having been fleeced of €1000; you will not find the solicitor in question in the BHC list any more. I had much better success by asking people who had been around the block, so to speak to recommend a lawyer.

    I would add that any list of expenses has to include the Immovable Property Tax, which is another minefield.

  • Mike says:

    We must all owe those like Nigel & Alan Waring a debt of gratitude for the advice and warnings of pitfalls that is the Cyprus property market.

    I purchased & received title but not without complications. My title was ready for immediate transfer but someone had not paid their taxes and as a consequence the lawyers in their attempts to cover up their incompetence delayed matters for 3 years until I arrived on the Island & got hold of them both together. They obviously do not like confrontation as my title was released in a few days.

    To be fair my lawyer was at the mercy of the sellers lawyer and to cap it all it transpired that they were well acquainted & gave each other work. We talk of independent lawyer, I thought mine was, but I am not convinced I could advise on how to find one in Cyprus that truly is.

    My advice to anyone is to speak to those who have been through the process & ensure every point is detailed to the lawyer with instructions not to release any monies until all has been checked and certified as being clear. Check their professional indemnity insurance and their qualifications (important) and that they are licensed to trade as a lawyer. There are too many para legals on the Island purporting otherwise. A qualified professional will have no problem in you checking the validity of their claims.

    Finally any of us falling for the parasites & scammers offers to apply for title possibly deserve all we get. I’m sure trading standards (as it is) might have a comment on that – perhaps not though!

  • @Odd_Job_Bob – Most of the points you raise are covered in my ‘Golden Commandments’ guide.

    Regarding z) – my guide is up to date. But bearing in mind the recent laws that have been passed (but not yet implemented) the guide will need up be updated to reflect those changes once we have a clear understanding of their implications.

    (I will also be updating my other guide).

    As they currently stand, both guides are valid – and even when the changes to the laws are implemented, much of their content will still be applicable.

    No-one could guarantee a risk-free purchase, it’s just not possible (I see that in the UK there have been a number of fraudulent property transactions). However, if people use an independent lawyer and follow the advice in my guide, those risks can be minimised.

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    Nigel But even if you get an independent lawyer what if the other lawyer involved in the transaction is a rogue ?

    I think the evidence shows there is very few lawyers on the island willing to fight for there clients as it would incur the wrath off the CBA and its members.

    While the good lawyers remain silent it is still not safe to purchase in Cyprus.

  • Alan Waring says:

    As many will know, over the past 7 years I have written many articles and letters in Financial Mirror, Cyprus Mail, In Touch and on this website decrying the nightmare of the the Title Deeds-cum-fraud scandal. There is no question that a hard-core of disreputable lawyers are up to their necks in it. However, touch wood since 2004 I have used two Cypriot law firms for a range of things including conveyancing and am pleased to report that thus far they have not been found wanting. I have recommended these firms to a number of people. Only one of these firms is on the BHC list, the other not considering it necessary for their overall wider-ranging business.

    AndyP has identified a huge problem in how on earth to tell which are the good ‘uns and bad ‘uns. Forget the CBA and the Disciplinary Board, which together seem like a medieval trade protection racket. The BHC list is only partly helpful – clearly there are good ‘uns NOT on the list and in the past we have seen some bad ‘uns somehow getting on the list.

    It looks like the only way to identify the good ‘uns is by recommendation.

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    Nigel,

    I see what you’re trying to do here and I commend it. But you really should add the following points:

    c) A lawyer who is not only independent and you can trust, but is actually competent as well. Many lawyers simply didn’t bother with searches or, when they did and did find the property was mortgaged, instructed a couple I know that they can get a separate contract out with the bank to stop them from repossessing if the mortgagee goes bankrupt. I’d be awfully surprised if this were legally binding…

    d) The seller whose name is on the title deed actually exists! There are many people on this forum who can tell us all about Proxy Sellers…

    e) In a market where there is vast oversupply of property, rental yields are disastrously low, actual selling prices are tumbling, massive repossessions looming which will then flood the market driving prices down further, is it a good idea to buy or rent? Not just untitled properties will be effected but EVERY property with regards to their long-term investment value (why buy anywhere when you can rent for peanuts?)

    f) I’ve tried to find out what happens in Cyprus (as I’m sure it’s different here to most other countries) if you have a mortgage with a bank here and it goes under (as many will bearing in mind developer debt, exposure to Greece etc etc). Will they foreclose or not? No idea, but I bet you there’s a bunch of solicitors queuing up to charge you to find out!

    g) Now that the source of eternal income has been discovered (US!), brace yourself for more ways to get money out of those of us who even DO have titles. From IPT threshold recalculation (down, not up) which WILL come, to communal swimming pool charges contrary to EU directives to rates increases (where no discussion period involving the local residents was even entered into before the council decided to whack up costs for some nonsense or another), all these wonderful things people are already experiencing

    h) Poor construction standards. Many edifices have been whacked up quick and cheap and even things 5 years old are starting to fall apart. All repair costs will now be on us and not the developer any more

    i) A free and fair legal system. We know that going to solicitors here is time-consuming and costly and that even if we seem to have an open and shut case, verdicts seem to be, euphemistically, slightly-skewered not in our favour… An earlier poster said that even when the law is on our side, they re-interpret the law so we lose. That’s just with existing laws, wait and see the ones that WILL be introduced.

    I could go on (as I normally do, I know, I know), but the most important one, call it z), is this:

    Nigel, if you were to have written a guide on avoiding all the pitfalls of buying a property in Cyprus a year ago (er, you did, I know), could you guarantee that it would still be completely accurate today and that by following it, one would be completely safe? Will it be in a year’s time?

    The sands are constantly shifting here. No-one can guarantee that any property purchase here will be criminality and extortion-free. As Alyn Smith MEP said, “Blah blah blah…”

  • @andyp – The British High Commission publishes a list of English-speaking lawyers that you will find at ‘List of local lawyers

    Also get the two documents in the ‘Free Publications‘ section and follow the advice contained in them.

  • Gavin Jones says:

    And so it goes on and on and on and on. No shame, no law, no morality, no safeguards, no nothing.

    Cyprus has become a laughing stock in the EU, together with its so-called ‘mother’, Greece. Both are more like parodies of countries with bloated public sectors, nepotism, self-deception, arrogance and a propensity for institutionalized corruption. They deserve each other and contrary to the inane utterings of Stavrakis, the Finance Minister, Cyprus is going the same way as Greece.

    Nigel (7.51 p.m.).

    Yes. I’m sure there are “independent lawyers” out there. But who exactly can anyone REALLY trust? Anyone with no experience of the island’s ‘artful ways’ stands no chance whatsoever and even those of us with a lifetime’s history behind them still fall foul of what goes on here.

    In brief, it’s simply not worth the risk. If someone REALLY wants to live here, the foolproof advice to follow is to rent somewhere here and buy/retain a property in their home country. I’m afraid that the historic British tendency to rush headlong into buying property abroad has, in this case, been the undoing of tens of thousands of people.
    If any prospective buyer who happens to read this is still not convinced, I refer them to Pam Hogarth’s comments posted at 2.02 p.m.

    The current slogan which promotes tourism here is ‘Love Cyprus’. I have two possible alternatives of my own: ‘Avoid Cyprus’ and ‘Don’t Trust Cyprus’.

    QED.

  • andyp says:

    Sorry Nigel but are you prepared to recommend an independent lawyer who will act in your best interest?

  • @Brad – It is safe to buy property in Cyprus providing that:

    (a) you use an independent lawyer to represent your interests.

    (b) you buy a property that has been issued with its Title Deeds.

  • Brad says:

    And to think that we were even considering buying property in Cyprus. I am now running a mile! Thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences.

  • andyp says:

    You have got to give these con men credit. They never give up.

    They get caught on the title deed scams. They got caught on legislation which mainly helps The Developers. Now they want us to pay again for something that is ours. They cannot even guarantee delivery of our titles.

    Can’t wait for the next one.

    It is nice to see the advice given by these estate agents re the importance of title deeds.

    I wonder if they gave the same advice to their clients some years ago before they purchased or if it was just the same old rubbish that we all got at that time.

  • @Mr Happy – Thanks. I know the chap who owns the site, I’ve just dropped him a note about the error.

  • Mr Happy says:

    Sorry Nigel, i must have misunderstood the Cyprus Expat Advice Centre website, see following clip–“Louise established the Law Offices of Louise Zambartas (now L.G.Zambartas LLC), after she relocated permanently to Cyprus. Louise is one of the leading sale & purchase property lawyers in Cyprus, handling several class action cases, as well as Cypriot Wills, Probate, Succession and General Litigation”

  • Pam Hogarth says:

    When will this corruption end in Cyprus? I have real fears for the future of ex-pats on Cyprus, no fears for the Island itself, it deserves all it’s going to get, no-one buying property, no tourism, due to the en-mass greed that is Cyprus.

    Such a shame, and such a waste, and as the desperation that is so evident amongst Developers, Lawyers, Estate Agents (so-called) really kicks in, then it will only get worse.

    We were lucky, we ran a business in Cyprus, it made money, we didn’t buy property thank God, and we came home unscathed when we saw the light with no regrets, but every day we know how lucky we are.

  • @Clive Fletcher – Thanks for your comments. I was talking to a journalist from one of the national papers yesterday and I’m confident they will pick the story.

  • Clive Fletcher says:

    Excellent Nigel. All of this needs to be published in the newspapers so that as many hapless buyers without title deeds don’t fall for their scam.

  • Mr Happy says:

    If you have already paid for your property in full, why on earth would you now have to bail out the developers and banks.

    Surely there is some redress through the local and ultimately European courts to make the case for misappropriation of funds.

    If the contract price has been paid then neither the developers nor the banks can have any lien on your property.

    People should use that €3,000 to mount a class action suit against the perpetrators of this fraud.

  • Adrian Wright says:

    I received an e-mail from ***y *e** and they are looking to submit 1,000 applications, that’s a cool €3 to €4 million. In my opinion they will come up against the some blockage of red tape and wont get anywhere that you couldn’t by writing to the CCPS, AND YOU WOULD STILL HAVE €3-4000 IN YOUR POCKET.

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