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Town Planning Amnesty: six month extension agreed

At the plenary parliamentary session last Thursday, Cypriot MPs voted in favour of a six-month extension to the period during which ‘Statements of Intent’ may be submitted under the provisions of the Town Planning Amnesty.

AS widely anticipated, an extension to the Town Planning Amnesty and a simplification of the procedure has been approved by Cyprus parliament.

The changes approved by parliament are that:

  • The period during which ‘Statements of Intent’ may be submitted under the provisions of the Town Planning Amnesty laws has been extended to 6th April 2012.
  • The requirement that the ‘Statement of Intent’ has to be accompanied by a sworn statement made by an ETEK registered architect/engineer has been removed. In its place, the applicant is required to submit a ‘Statutory Declaration’.

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 (although they may have expired). The building must have been completed before the above law came into force on 7th April 2011.

Applications must be accompanied by a ‘Statutory Declaration’ made by the applicant.

When the period during which Statements of Intent may be submitted ends on 6th April 2012, 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.

Purchasers may submit applications by attaching a stamped copy of their Contract of Sale to the application.

Preparing and submitting a Statement of Intent

DEPENDING on the nature and extent of planning infringement, applicants will need to submit either a Statement of Intent under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Law or a Statement of Intent under the provisions of the Streets and Buildings Regulations Law:

The Town and Country Planning Law

Excessive density should be 30% of the allowed density and no more than 10% outside the approved envelope.

A penalty will be payable, corresponding to a fraction of the value of the land area that should exist for the building to be legal. Alternatively, density can be transferred from another plot (which then becomes public property) or from a listed building. A 20% discount will apply for applications submitted during the first year and 10% for those submitted in the second year.

Note that planning irregularities such as excessive coverage, building height, number of floors, distances from boundaries, changes to the layout of buildings etc. can be accepted under certain circumstances. No penalty is payable for these irregularities but corrective measures will be required.

Town and Country Planning Law Statement of Intent Application form – includes the required ‘Statutory Declaration’.

(Please complete the Greek language part of the above document. The English language translation is provided for guidance only).

The Streets and Buildings Regulations Law

Small scale excess density can be allowed to the building up to a maximum 10% of the permitted density and half of it to be included in the building envelope.

The penalties imposed are the same as those of the Town and Country Planning Law.

Minor changes can be covered like excessive building height, changes to the internal layout of the building, changes to the doors and windows and other architectural characteristics.

Streets and Buildings Regulations Law Statement of Intent Application form – includes the required ‘Statutory Declaration’.

(Please complete the Greek language part of the above document. The English language translation is provided for guidance only).

Deciding which application to submit

APPLICANTS need to compare the approved plans, attached to the Planning Permit and/or the Building Permit, against what has been built.

Applicants may wish to use the services of an ETEK registered Architect or Civil Engineer to assist – contact two or three to get competitive quotations.

Obtaining planning and building permit

DISTRICT and Municipal office will provide certified copies of Planning/Building permits and approved drawings for €27.

Where the applicant is a purchaser, they will need the number of the Planning/Building permit, a copy of their contract and proof of their identity (an ID card or passport).

Purchasers who are unable to obtain the number of their Planning/Building permit from their developer, building contractor or architect should speak with the planning officer responsible for their area who should be able to advise and provide them with a certified copy of the documents.

Penalty payments

AS mentioned above, fines will be payable that correspond to a fraction of the value of the land that should exist for the building to be legal.

Penalty payments have been published for buildings in Nicosia town, Nicosia villages, Paphos town, Paphos villages, Famagusta (all areas), Larnaca town, Larnaca villages, Limassol town and the Limassol villages.

Note that the penalty payment tables are in Greek, but it is relatively straightforward to translate their contents using Google Translate or Yahoo Babel Fish.

Notes

It is important to appreciate that the temporary provisions of the Town Planning Amnesty is designed to address specific problems described in the law and only applies to planning irregularities impossible to resolve using other procedures.

Applicants can be buyers of individual units in a complex who are encouraged to apply together.

Applicants are advised that  serious planning infringements that are outside the scope of the amnesty could result in in the authorities issuing a ‘Certificate of Unauthorised Works’ that will result in the Land Registry registering a note against the title prohibiting the transfer of the property until that infringement has been corrected. (But beneficiaries can inherit the property by Will).

Completed ‘Statements of Intent’ and accompanying documentation should be sent to the Ministry of the Interior.

Readers' comments

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  • @Fleeced Sheep – if a property is given anything other than a ‘clean’ title then its market value will be reduced considerably.

    If it gets a ‘Certificate of Unauthorised Works’ then it will have absolutely no market value.

    This should be reflected in the ‘Property Transfer Fees’ payable to the Land Registry at completion.

  • Fleeced Sheep says:

    OJB – thanks for recognizing my post, glad you like the name ha ha! Its becoming more appropriate in this world

    If this is most certainly the case, then as the Government have shown us their cards; ‘sorry we cannot proceed after the first deadline, we do not have enough takers to make as much money as we want so we’ll extend the deadline further because we’re greedy and want more’

    With the government doing this, doesn’t it put the property owners in the driving seat to hold firm until they remove some of the unnecessary ‘hoops’ to make the amnesty more attractive and straight forward? thus enticing more numbers.

    After all, if we’re given anything other than ‘full’ title deeds then we shouldn’t have to pay the whole amount of property tax, the shortfall should be recovered from the developer perhaps… just thinking out loud on that one.

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    Fleeced Sheep (great name, by the way!) no, you’re not missing anything, you got it in one. Plus, as Uboat says below, we are creating extra income for Cypriots.

    Even Nigel, the very voice of balance – infuriatingly so, at times, but I suppose someone has to appear impartial – agrees that we’ll need at the very least to cough up for plans of our “as-built” properties so we can compare them to the plans that were submitted. And then, IF there is a not too large discrepancy, pay an incontestable and unquantified fine (to the Cypriot authorities) and then, in order to sue our developers, pay fees to a solicitor (hey, aren’t these the guys who got us into this position in the first place, by not doing their job properly? Hold on a minute, aren’t these the SAME guys who drew up the new laws that will eventually direct us back to them to again top up their fee accounts? Surely some coincidence, obviously…).

    And Nigel, I accept your point that “tainted” deeds will only be given once we’ve jumped through the above hoops, with the appropriate costs, and been told that our properties are unacceptably wrong.

    We will have just forked out a number of times (accept for the amnesty fine) to have a piece of paper that says our property is worthless, but, as Fleeced Sheep correctly states (liking that name even more!), will entitle us to pay newly recalculated Transfer Tax and newly recalculated Immovable Property Tax.

    Of course (again), this MUST all be just coincidence as Cypriots couldn’t POSSIBLY be that devious…

    Penultimate point to Astragal: I believe this has absolutely nothing to do with local elections in December. We are simply not important enough. Just check the number of column inches dedicated to CTPAS (thanks for that Steve, will use it going forward!)

    Finally, what should we do? I think everyone already knows my views…

  • @Steve – If the developer is willing to co-operate then amnesty seekers will not need to pay €27 to the planning department for certified copies of the permits and plans. And I expect that many people will be able to read the plans and come to a decision without the aid of an architect/engineer.

    But when it comes to making an application, plans will be needed that reflect the ‘as-built’ state of the property – and these will cost. However, applicants can sue their developer (or whoever) to recover their costs and their legal expenses.

  • @Odd_Job_Bob – thanks for your comment. ‘Tainted’ Title Deeds will only be issued for very serious planning infringement that are outside the scope of the amnesty.

  • Astragal says:

    Perhaps the “extension” has also something to do with the coming “elections” in December…….

    Kick the problem down the road again !

  • Steve says:

    So an aspiring amnesty-seeker will need to spend €27 on obtaining plans and building permits, plus the cost of an architect or surveyor, just to find if there are any infringements, then where there is an infringement for which a penalty is applicable, that must be paid (quoted in €/sq m). If no penalty is applicable, then the infringement must be corrected. In either case, total cost to the builder and architect, who have actually committed criminal offences in many cases by submitting false planning documents – nil.

    I suggest we start referring to this by what it really is: THE CYPRUS TOWN PLANNING AMNESTY SCAM.

  • Fleeced Sheep says:

    Isn’t it plain to see that all the Cyprus Government want to do is get as many people on any kind of title deed so that regardless of the stability of their property the property owner will still have to pay property tax.

    Is this too simple or have I over looked something?

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    You bunch of cynics! SHAME on you!

    To suggest that the Cypriot authorities would put in place legislation designed with the sole purpose of fleecing you to find out information which may not apply to you and for which you’re not responsible anyway (with an IMMOVABLE DEADLINE to force people into forming queues around the block to pay them an unquantifiable amount of money), then moving that deadline when the money wasn’t coming in (“Er, why the deadline in the first place then, if it can so easily be moved?”, you may ask. Stop that, that’s only being cynical again) is scandalous.

    Anyone would think that Cyprus had previous accusations outstanding of devising ways for us to pay, pay and pay again, amounts which are always variable (upwards, never downwards) for things that have already been paid for, in the quest for the elusive title deeds (which of course can now be “tainted” which means they aint worth nuthin’) which will finally secure our place in the sun. (Or the deeds could be invalid, which again means they’re worth diddly squat. Sorry, cynical again).

    So, at the end of the quest, after we’ve signed the blank cheques to which Hermes Solomon (excellent article, by the way!) alluded, there is still the Elephant In The Corner of whose name we dare not speak: The Developer’s mortgage!!!

    Our share of his mortgage debts (I don’t even believe I’m writing this, how could WE have a share of HIS mortgage debts? Only in Cyprus…), bearing in mind penal interest rates, WILL be many times more than the value of the property. Many choose not to believe this, but you only have to do the maths.

    Everyone writing into this forum now has sussed what we’re up against. The very fact that A SINGLE PERSON has gone down the amnesty route means that the message isn’t getting across. The property demos and action groups are all great news, but we need do more to lance the boil of further sales to the unsuspecting. Any suggestions?

    Having said all that though, none of it really matters… The €2.5bn loan taken from the Russians at mates’ rates will probably do more harm to the eventual value of our property than the yoyo sales (i.e. I sell to you, I still own it). Does anyone remember that line from the Godfather?: “At some stage in the future, and that day may never happen, I will call on you for a favour. Until that day, consider this a gift”

    Now I’m scared…

  • Robert Briggs says:

    @ Mr Paul Lambert, please note Mr Hermes Solomon’s article. “Legislation changes will not affect Title Deeds nightmare”. Published 2nd October on this website, in particular paragraphs 9 & 10.

  • out of the frying pan into the fire says:

    Nothing will change.

    I agree with the last three comments.

    Unfortunately Cyprus is I would suggest a corrupt country.

    Loose your health and wealth in Cyprus and get charged for the privilege.

  • U Boat says:

    Well I think the extension is all about the fact that they have not had many takers on the planning amnesty, therefore not much money has been put in this pot, so now they have extended it to see if they can get some more money into it.

    It seems that it only creates work for Cypriots because Cypriots have not done the correct thing in the first place and as a result will cost all who take it up money for WHAT ?

    I agree with Costa I don’t know whether I have any infringements and am not willing to pay some one to tell me I have not, I have done this when I paid my solicitor some years ago on purchase, I am not doing it again and again and again to satisfy the greedy who have lost the golden goose.

    Enough said.

    U Boat

  • paul lambert says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. You begin to suspect that there is another agenda behind this Town Planning issue. Haven’t quite worked out what it is yet but knowing the Cypriots it will cost you money rather than the developer!

  • Costas Apacket says:

    There will need to be a perpetual planning amnesty process ad infinitum unless the Cypriots change their current methods of surveying, inspection and building control processes for new building works.

    Again, this planning amnesty process is of no use whatsoever if you don’t know whether or not you have any planning infringements with your property or development and of even less use to you if you don’t have any infringements at all.

    As usual a cock eyed way of proceeding in Cyprus.

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