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Title Deeds hopes dashed by latest property legislation

Residents of the Harbour Shore Estates at Coral Bay, some of whom have been waiting for their Title Deeds for more than 30 years, have found that the new Specific Performance Law introduced last year may have ruined their chances.

PEYIA Coalition of Independents politician Linda Leblanc is meeting the chairman of the House Legal Affairs Committee next Monday over confusing laws which could scupper property owners’ chances of obtaining their title deeds.

According to Leblanc, Land Registry is refusing to accept deposits of Contract of Sales for a number of properties in what is known as Plot One in Coral Bay partly owing to the fact that none of the 155 leasehold properties are subdivided.

The legal requirement is related to recently-introduced amnesty measures aimed at releasing thousands of title deeds and cleaning up Cyprus’ tarnished property market image.

“The Sale of Land Law helps to protect the rights of property purchasers, as depositing a contract of sale at the Land Registry effectively prevents the vendor from selling the property in question to someone else or changing his mind about the sale,” Leblanc explained.

“A new law entitled ‘The Sale of Immovable Property (Specific Performance)’ was approved by Parliament and came into force on July 29, 2011. Any contracts of sale that were signed and that have not been lodged at the Land Registry may be filed within six months from the July 29, 2011. The deadline to lodge any contracts is January 29 this year.

For example, if a buyer signed a contract of sale in 2005 but failed to file it at the Land Registry, there has now been a six-month window of opportunity to do so.”

But Leblanc says that it is not clear if leasehold property is covered by the law.

“If not, over 155 buyers in Coral Bay, the Harbour Shore Estates (HSE) will be greatly disadvantaged. Some buyers of this leasehold development applied under the Amnesty Law but have now discovered their sales contracts are not registered at the Land Registry even though many of them, through their lawyers, have paid transfer fees and have Land Registry receipts.”

Leblanc said that homeowners are now being told that this is only an “Intent to Register”.

“Because of this, they are also now having problems with their amnesty applications, which apparently require a sales contract registered with the Land Registry. If they cannot now register their sales contracts with Land Registry under this new law, they are left totally without any protection,” she said.

Leblanc, who is one of the residents of the plot, only found out by fluke prior to Christmas that the necessary contract had not been accepted and claims that her situation is not isolated.

Green Party MP George Perdikis has been contacted by Leblanc to canvass the House for an extension on the deadline while the legal issue is clarified.

However, it is unlikely at this stage that this will be granted.

The next step is to meet with House Legal Affairs Committee chairman Ionas Nicolaou, in order to make “the seriousness of the situation clear,” Leblanc said.

“This can be resolved with political will.”

The Cyprus Weekly contacted Harbour Shore Estates about the matter but nobody was available for comment.

Last year the government amended laws on town planning and introduced an amnesty enabling property-owners who, owing to minor building irregularities, have not been granted a certificate of approval for their property and consequently title deeds to legalise their Cypriot property.

Readers' comments

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  • andyp says:

    Well I did Frank and look where it got me.

    Need to go there are a couple of guys with white coats at the door.

  • Frank says:

    @Nigel

    Thanks for the info. I guess that is one small step toward justice. (A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step but there are a lot of miles to be yet overcome.)

    Of course, the next trick would be to find a willing cash buyer (as there is no legal ownership: hence no collateral in the yet ‘unowned’ property to satisfy a mortgagee). That cash buyer would need to be prepared to ‘invest’ their money to buy my rights and obligations. It appears that I have virtually no rights to sell; just as I have no title to sell.

    Also, wouldn’t I be guilty of fraud for accepting payment for a property which cannot be legally occupied (no Certificate of Final Approval) and is therefore ‘unfit for purpose’? Isn’t the developer equally guilty of fraud and breach of contract for originally providing me with a property which is ‘unfit for purpose’?

    Furthermore; if a willing cash buyer could be found; can an insane person enter into a binding contract?

  • @Frank – You no longer need the involvement of your developer if you wish to sell a property before its Title Deed has been issued.

    You can sell using a “Vesting Contract” whereby you assign your rights and obligations to your buyer.

    No more extortionate cancellation fees!

  • Frank says:

    @andyp

    We ‘buyers’ appear to have no legal ownership in return for the purchase price we paid for ‘our’ properties: only valueless ‘contracts of sale’ which oblige us to ‘sell’ only to the original developer (the holder of the extant Title Deed for the developed land) at a price which suits them. Yet, in a huge number of cases, we have been inveigled into illegally occupying buildings which have no Certificate of Final Approval from the municipality.

    We have unknowingly been performing criminal acts which contravene one of RoC’s conveniently ignored laws: Article 10 of the Streets and Buildings Regulations Law, Cap. 96; quoted by Nigel earlier in this thread.

    Surely the developers, by accepting payment for buildings which may not be legally occupied, have broken contract law by supplying goods which are ‘not fit for purpose’; or does Cypriot Law not recognise that the purpose of an apartment, house, etc is occupation of the premises?

    Admittedly this would be civil law, rather than criminal law; so would not result in the kind of punishment which most of us feel to be overdue for the developers. Nevertheless, it could put them out of business and hasten the probable bankruptcies, defaults, etc of the developers and the banks. That may be as close to justice and revenge as we may hope to ever achieve.

  • andyp says:

    The CYP PROP PROB in reality has been created by The Cyprus Government as they have had legislation in place to protect buyers but did not bother.

    Instead they tinker about the edges not trying to resolve anything but raise cash and protect developers, bankers and lawyers. There was nothing to resolve they simply pandered to the developers, bankers and lawyers and never enforced THE LAW.

    Probably thousands of people are in illegal occupation of their homes notwithstanding developer mortgages.

    I do not know how and am open to suggestions but it is time to stop all this.

  • Gavin Jones says:

    cojack, Mike and andyp.

    I cracked up when I read your comments. Seems we’re all ‘illegals’ in one way or another and likely to be deported.

    Who loves ya, baby!!!

  • cojack says:

    As a previous owner of a villa, I have now been informed that I have to pay 2,000 euros for the Title Deeds, for which I have never had as the owner, somebody please explain, as to why I should have to pay for something I have never had, is this not Cyprus law gone mad.

  • Mike says:

    It is comforting to know that nothing has changed. I was beginning to believe the rhetoric of intent to become transparent and efficient.

    Nice to know we are back to the oh well, how sad, never mind – I have a cousin three times removed married to an uncle who studied at the General Galtieri college for incurable incompetents whose son can fix all that for a fee, he is a lawyer and goat herder too and he can fix cars and build houses. He is truly good and the best.

    Nothing like the good old days!

  • andyp says:

    Thanks Nigel I thought so.

    Brilliant scam is it not.

    They have the law in place so that these problems should never come up. They don’t enforce them. Your lawyer does not tell you about this and lets you buy and occupy the house which is illegal. Then the Government comes up with am Amnesty scheme which costs thousands and puts the onus on the owner to sort it when they had the power and the duty to sort it in the first place.

    Brilliant.

  • Moufflon says:

    I found this an interesting article on Property transactions and Kykkos Monastery.
    Leptos has built on land bought from the Bishop of Pafos. As far as I’m aware the church only leases land, but please correct me if I am wrong.
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=economic%20functions%20of%20kykkos%20monastery&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CCkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mdpi.com%2F2077-1444%2F1%2F1%2F54%2Fpdf&ei=OxclT–RPIvZ8QOVz7TYCQ&usg=AFQjCNGa35HY1r5YulUn9KOMB9WZ0llTAw

  • Moufflon says:

    Did the Developers “lease” this land from the Church?

  • G J Gill says:

    Here we go again! I’m going to suggest that the great game called Monopoly issue a new version with China and Germany replacing Mayfair and Park Lane which only leaves Cyprus to replace The Old Kent Road.

    Cyprus’ Reduced credit rating:

    “The ability, openness, hard work and flexibility of the business people, together with the high quality level of the workforce and the social cohesion of Cyprus constitute today, as they have in the past, the cornerstone of Cyprus’ economic progress,” the Finance Ministry states.

    Well I think the cornerstone of Cyprus’ economy is based on Fairy Dust, Wishful Thinking and of course endemic corruption.

  • @andyp – That’s correct – Article 10 of the Streets and Buildings Regulations Law, Cap. 96, provides that:

    “no person shall occupy, use or permit any other person to occupy or use any building, unless and until a certificate of approval has been issued in respect thereof by the appropriate authority”.

    But like many other laws, the authorities appear to be either unwilling or unable to ensure it is enforced.

  • andyp says:

    Is it not the case Nigel that legislation was and is still in existence that should have ensured that these people and indeed everyone else should not actually be in occupation without completion certificates?

    It is simply a case of The ROC failing to implement existing planning laws.

  • @Costas Apacket – the problems are relate to various planning infringements that may be resolved under the provisions of the Town Planning Amnesty.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    If the Cypriot Government decides that it doesn’t want the Transfer Taxes from the transfer of the 155 Title Deeds in these times of austerity then we need to ask a very important question.

    What is it about the current owners of these 155 properties that make this so difficult to resolve?

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