Latest Headlines

Town Planning Amnesty statement of intent DIY guide

People who have bought property in Cyprus and have yet to receive their Title Deeds can file a Statement of Intent to apply for their Title Deeds under the provisions of the Island’s Town Planning Amnesty laws.

A NUMBER of companies and law firms are asking between €700 and €4,000 in return for helping property buyers to apply for their Title Deeds under the provisions of the recently passed ‘Town Planning Amnesty’ laws.

But their quoted service charges bear no relation to the actual cost of securing Title Deeds and there is no guarantee that Title Deeds will be issued as this will depend on the nature and extent of any planning infringements.

Furthermore, to secure Title Deeds to the property they have purchased, buyers may also have to pay: an element of the developer’s mortgage (in cases where the property has been built on mortgaged land) and a fine imposed by the authorities to legitimise planning irregularities. In circumstances where the developer is unwilling or unable to provide a ‘tax clearance certificate’ buyers will be required to pay the developer’s tax liabilities themselves.

These costs and any legal expenses incurred may be recovered by bringing a civil against the property developer through the courts.

Statement of intent application conditions

  • The Town Planning Amnesty only applies to “existing buildings” which, according to article 10D of the Streets and Building (Revised) Law 2011, are those that have a Planning and/or a Building Permit. Also the building must have been completed before the above law came into force on 7th April 2011.
  • When the period during which Statements of Intent may be submitted ends on 7th October 2011, applicants will have until 7th October 2014 to apply to the relevant Town Planning or Building Authority to obtain a Certificate of Final Completion for the building.

Preparing and submitting a statement of intent

INDIVIDUALS can submit a ‘statement of intent’ themselves, with the assistance of an ETEK registered architect/engineer without the need to spend thousands of Euros in service charges.

The first thing you need to do is establish the situation with your property whether you are entitled to apply.

If you bought the property from a developer, he will be able to advise you whether Planning and/or Building Permits have been issued and supply you with the relevant references; he will also be able to advise you of any problems that may have arisen. If your developer refuses to co-operate, you should visit your local Town Planning Department to obtain the necessary information from the officer responsible for your area. You should also do the same at the District Office – and if the property is in a Municipality, the Town Hall is the place to go.

(The authorities can impose heavy fines on developers who fail to co-operate in this matter).

If you had your property built by a contractor, you will need to discuss this with your supervising architect.

Once you have identified the situation with your particular property, and assuming that you are entitled to apply, you can then prepare and submit an appropriate ‘Statement of Intent’ with the assistance of an ETEK registered architect/engineer.

The type of the Statement of Intent that you will need to submit depends on the nature and the extent of the irregularities that exist and that need to be legalised. You will need to submit either:

A Statement of Intent under the Town and Country Planning Law.

or

A Statement of Intent under the Streets and Buildings Regulations Law.

The application forms

Pages 1 and 2 of the application forms above contain an English translation of the Greek application form contained on pages 3 and 4.

Note that it is the Greek language form that needs to be completed and submitted (the English translation is there for guidance only).

Page 5 of the application form contains a statement to be sworn by an architect/engineer at court verifying certain matters concerning the property in question.

Note that the sworn statement must accompany the completed Statement of Intent form and that the architect/engineer must be registered with the Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber (ETEK) who can be contacted at:

ETEK
P.O. Box 21826
1513, Nicosia
Cyprus

Tel: +357 22877644
Fax: +357 22730373
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.etek.org.cy/

ETEK will be able to advise you of suitably qualified architects and engineers in your area to assist.

Statements of Intent must be submitted to the Ministry of the Interior by October 7, 2011. A full application may then be submitted to the Planning or Building Authority by October 7, 2014.

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • Ioannis Koutsolambros says:

    Well said, Nigel.

    It must also be said that it looks like a genuine effort from the government this time, in an effort to solve ageing and festering problems and of course remedy all the bad publicity, hence the deadline. It all declares that it is a one off measure, fixing irregularities and it cannot be extended or repeated in the future. It also says that nobody can take advantage of this special window of opportunity in order to build new stuff, that is why a statement under oath is required by the architect that the building was present as is on April last when the law was published.

    I understand the bitterness, justified in most cases, but I would urge all concerned to get decent advice this time, to see if their problems can be resolved. After all, it is about one’s property. The value of the title deeds of a plot (if you have one) is a fraction of the equivalent of a building, mortgage wise. And, if in doubt, just make the statement of intent as Nigel suggests reserving your rights to apply.

  • I appreciate the concerns and objections that people may have to making an application/statement of intent under the provisions of the building amnesty laws.

    However, I would recommend that people take this up while it is on offer as they may be no opportunity to resolve planning infringements at a later date.

    The statement of intent should be affordable as it involves only filling an application and getting the statement under oath from the architect, no drawings involved, just a general description of the problems.

    A fee to correct any planning irregularities will only be imposed if the property has been overbuilt – and this is quite unlikely – and particularly in the properties ‘sold’ by the Stigette many of which were undersized.

    The fee will be based on the extent of the overbuild and will be based on values set by the Land Registry that will be a fraction of its actual market value. Also there is a 20% discount for those applying during the first year and a 10% discount for those applying in the second year.

    Coverage problems or other building issues like excessive height or distances from boundaries etc. will be resolved with non financial measures such as planting, appearance improvements etc.

  • andyp says:

    When I purchased Nigel there was no mortgage but thanks to The Stigette having delayed registering my contract I ended up with a developers mortgage of 64,000.

    Regarding planning issues I simply do not know if my house complies with the consents or not.

    Having read the papers and obviously the info provided by your good self I have taken the view that this process is a waste of time and money for me as I will not pay my developers mortgage. Even the possibility of receiving a tainted title that will make my house worthless puts me off.

  • @andyp – the outstanding sum should not be greater than the amount shown on the search certificate – this is the maximum amount agreed with the bank.

    What is the amount of the charge on the property you purchased? Does it have any planning irregularities?

  • andyp says:

    Thanks Nigel I forgot that the sum could be much more than the original figure.

    I have to agree with Costas except I would suggest that this legislation is bl***y clever.

    If you read it closely Bailey it puts the onus on the already ripped off “owner” not the developer. the developer just sits back doing nothing waiting on anyone who has any money left after all this taking them to court to recover their costs. More money and another x number of years waiting on a result.

    Another SMALL detail is that you may end up with a tainted title because of planning problems which if I am not mistaken are to be registered with your title. Do you think you will be able to sell such a property in the future? I doubt it.

    We should all take a step back and have a serious think before rushing into this process.

  • bailey says:

    Many thanks for the replies.

    AndyP I tend to agree with what you say. At the end of the day it was the developer’s responsibility to build the property as per the building permit and planning permission (provided he has these)

    The developer/local offices should be able to provide these details.

    If everybody says I am going to apply just in case, the system will become clogged up again. And the architects who were supposed to look after our interests in the first place will be rubbing their grubby little hands at the though of more easy money coming their way.

    It might be more helpful if we were to inundate the developers for the information as the onus is on them to apply under the amnesty

  • Costas Apacket says:

    This is the usual useless carve up that we’ve become used to in Cyprus with the usual suspects waiting in the wings to take more money off innocent expats for something they’re not really sure they need.

    1. We don’t know if our property has got any planning irregularities against it.

    2. Our Architect has taken it upon himself to become conveniently ‘offended’ by the purchasers on the development he oversaw, so he’s no use whatsoever as a source of info.

    3. The Developer refers all enquiries to the Architect. (See 2 above)

    4. If we go to the local planning office we will get the run around as usual and come out absolutely no wiser than when we went in.

    This is the reality for Expats in Cyprus and it’s Bl**dy useless!!!

  • @andyp – your point about a possible mortgage pre-dating the deposit of a contract of sale is referred to in the article.

    It is quite straightforward for people to do this themselves as described at http://www.news.cyprus-property-buyers.com/2010/05/16/new-title-search-procedures-in-cyprus/id=004888

    But the search certificate will only show the charge on the land at the time it was lodged at the Land Registry. The only people who could tell you the amount outstanding is the mortgagee (the developer’s bank) – and they will not provide you with this information as it is a confidential matter between the bank and the developer. (Although I have no doubt that the bank would tell you how much the developer owed if he went into liquidation).

  • andyp says:

    Nigel. Obviously I have my own views on this topic but before anyone goes down this route with great expectations would it not make sense for them to find out if their developer still has a mortgage on their property?

    If they have such a mortgage deeds will not be issued and they have just wasted, in my opinion, several thousand Euros unless of course they are quite happy to pay off the developers debts.

  • andyp says:

    Ioannis. I appreciate what you say but I see no reason why the authorities cannot produce a list of properties that do not comply.

    If they could not cope and produce such a list, assuming 30% of the 130,000 untitled properties make applications under this scheme I doubt they will be able to cope with that.

    I feel this legislation is really just another farce and will only result in further chaos particularly due to the short timescales.

    The planning authorities should at least get off their backsides and produce a list of properties that have no problems otherwise this process will be clogged and people not affected will be spending more unnecessary cash.

    Having gone through all this we then have to pay the developers outstanding tax and outstanding mortgage on our property before we can get the deeds anyway.

    I for one will not be taking part in this farce as my developer will probably be laughing his socks off at having conned us twice this time with Government approval.

  • Ioannis Koutsolambros says:

    Bailey,

    contract of sales is irrelevant concerning your rights to apply for an amnesty, provided you need to apply for one. You must satisfy specific prerequisites for that as described in the law.

    All applications including the statement of Intent must be accompanied by a statement under oath by an architect / civil engineer who will testify that the property existed before last April. Presumably, he will inspect it in order to testify. You also need his / her help to describe the legalities of the problem (coefficient in excess, coverage problems, distance from boundaries etc) and prepare the necessary drawings indicating all the above. If you can use the architect who designed the building in the first place, you should save time and money, provided he has all the drawings already, thus avoiding the extra cost of surveying and redrawing.

  • bailey says:

    Nigel, Could you please tell me if our contract of sale says that title deeds will be issued in 2013 that we cannot do anything at the moment and therefore lose out on the amnesty?

    Also do we have to get our property inspected by an architect/civil engineer before we can submit an application?

  • Ioannis Koutsolambros says:

    Let us see some case studies.

    Case 1.
    Single family house on a hillside. Zoning allows only one floor. Because of the sloping site, we built it and part of the basement is exposed, legally creating a second floor. No building coefficient problem. It is a case of Building Permit / Town Planning (TP) permit amnesty. Consultation of the architect with the TP Dept resulted in a normal TP application and the use of the discretion of the Chief Officer.

    Case 2.
    Villa in a plot. Developer told the expat owner he could exceed the allowed coefficient (he had a cousin somewhere) and built it for him. So we have scheme S (for small) and L (for large). All permits exist for scheme S. Of course, the owner can not get a Certificate of Completion and therefore, no title. It is a clear case of Planning amnesty. Fortunately, the excess area is within the limits described by the law. Application was submitted and is expected to be accepted.

    All I am trying to say is that there is a huge diversity of problems. Some can be resolved normally, some might use the amnesty and, if that fails, there is always the Application for a Relaxation. The problems of flat or maisonette owners in a condominium are usually much more complicated. In all cases, a statement of Intent, as Nigel suggests, will buy you time and guarantee you will be entitled to apply if you wish within 3 years.

  • Ioannis Koutsolambros says:

    @andyp, the list would be huge and if we ever got around to publish one it would be unusable as there are many different kinds of problems. Also, the authorities lack the mechanism necessary for a task like this. A case is examined only if there is a complaint or an application for a certificate of completion.

    If you had problems with your developer, he might be the wrong person to ask for the nature of the problems or a potential solution. The Town Planning Dept or the District Office should give you information if you know exactly what you want. I would always ask for the expert opinion of an architect in all cases, or a lawyer if the problem is strictly legal and not technical.

    And please hurry up, the deadline is approaching.

  • @andyp – It would be very useful to know which of the developments breach planning regulations and have failed their inspection by the Town Planning Authority.

    Regrettably, the only people who could provide this information would be the Town Planning Authorities themselves.

    But in addition to those developments there are those for which no planning or building permits exist. It would be impossible to discover where these are if developers refuse to co-operate.

    There’s another bunch of properties whose paperwork is stalled in the local and central bureaucracy.

    There is also the problem of non-residents who have bought holiday homes – there are probably as many of these if not more than the number of permanent residents.

  • andyp says:

    @Ioannis – It is obviously difficult for those affected to actually find out if they are affected without the cooperation of our developers.

    Surely you must be aware of the developments that do not comply with the planning permissions. Could you not publish a list of these developments so that everyone knows where they stand? At the moment we are really in the dark.

    Thanks

  • Ioannis Koutsolambros says:

    Very nice article, much needed. I am the secretary of the Paphos chapter of ETEK and we try to organise a presentation of the amnesty package in English together with UKCA, hopefully with the help of the ministry. I will also be a representative of ETEK in one of the two committees for Paphos. Our directions are that we should be as open minded and helpful as possible. I strongly feel this legal packet should be thoroughly explained to the ones who suffered most, the expats. And information is crucial in that respect, as the time limit is approaching fast.

  • @ted – If the developer has planning and building permits and the certificate of final completion, there is no point in you submitting an application.

    If your developer is dragging his heels over sub-dividing the land, then you can apply to a court to have someone take over the task from the developer and complete the procedures.

  • ted taylor says:

    Your article gives access to the ‘Statement of Intent’ documents if I have neither planning permission nor building permits.

    Can I make a S of I if I forfill all 3 critiera?, ie I have planning permission, a building permit & final approval

    I do need to do something to force my developer and/or apply myself for a Land split and title deeds. There is no mortgage on the land.

    Regards Ted

  • bailey says:

    Hi Nigel,
    Am I right in saying if there is a date in your Contract of Sale saying title deeds will be issued by lets say 2014 then you can’t do anything at the moment?

  • Whirlybird says:

    Since my query yesterday regarding the planning amnesty info, I am very impressed with today’s information article to which my query is fully answered.

    Regards.

  • andyp says:

    A better idea would be for Cyprus to enforce the law and prosecute builders, lawyers and agents.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Thanks for that Nigel!

  • Andrew says:

    A better idea would be for everyone who is without their Deeds to go back to the lawyer they used in the first place and say “sort this matter for me at your own expense” and remind them that you would not be in this position if they had done their job properly in the first instance.

    WHEN WILL THE LEGAL PROFESSION UNDERSTAND THAT THEY ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW.

  • @Costas Apacket – thanks for your comments. Many people have been asking me for a guide on how they could make applications under the provisions of the Town Planning Amnesty Laws.

    You need to visit the Planning Authority (not the Land Registry). In Limassol there is a building immediately behind the District Administration Office at Gregoris Afxentiou Square (Anexartisias) – you have to walk through the main office building to get to it. The building has several small offices each of which deals with different areas/villages. I’ve been there several times and I found the staff very helpful.

    An ETEK engineer/architect will charge for their services. I suggest that you contact a couple to get competitive quotes.

    And if your property does not suffer from any planning infringements, there is no point in making an application under the amnesty. But it will be useful to discover the situation with your property so that you can decide what (if anything) you can do about it.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Thank you so much for the guide Nigel, as always a great help to us all. Before I read this guide I have a couple of points about the above article.

    Please accept my apologies in advance if the answers to my questions are contained within the documents

    1. ‘If your developer refuses to cooperate, you will need to visit your local Town Planning Department to obtain the necessary information.’

    This seems a simple statement, but in my experience visiting any Planning Office in Cyprus is almost guaranteed to end in frustration.

    Just to clarify, are you saying we need to visit the District Lands office or a more ‘local’ planning office? Where can we find the addresses for these? For example, I live in the Limassol district so are there many local planning offices in this district?

    2. I assume there will be a cost involved to enlist the help of a architect/engineer who is registered with ETEK? If so is there any information or estimates on the likely level of these costs?

    3. Can property owners use this system even if they have no planning irregularities with their properties?

    Thanks in advance!

  • The views expressed in readers' comments are not necessarily shared by the Cyprus Property News.

  • Text size

Back to top