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Cyprus Property Action Group report

In its latest update, the Cyprus Property Action Group (CPAG) says that as a result of the persistent lobbying of the European Union and MEPs that changes will come about to resolve the problems in the island’s property industry.

Cyprus Property Action Group reportESTABLISHED in 2007, the Cyprus Property Action Group (CPAG) has lobbied the Cyprus government and, more recently, the European Union and the Troika team in its efforts to resolve the many problems with the island’s property industry.

It its latest update the Group details the progress that it and other lobbying groups have made and says that it is “very optimistic” that changes to the industry and the attitude taken by the Cypriot authorities “may be inevitable”.

The Group says with some certainty that the outside pressure is starting to bear fruit. For example, the draft Memorandum of Understanding between the government of Cyprus and international lenders concerning the island’s bailout terms makes several references to property issues, including:

“By [Q4-2014], eliminate the title deed issuance backlog to less than 2,000 cases of immovable property sales contracts with title deed issuance pending for more than one year. The authorities will enhance cooperation with the financial sector to ensure the swift clearing of encumbrances on title deeds to be transferred to purchasers of immovable property, and implement guaranteed timeframes for the issuance of building (completion?) certificates and title deeds;”

“Publish quarterly progress reviews of the issuance of building and planning permits, certificates, and title deeds, as well as title deed transfers and related mortgage operations throughout the duration of the programme;

CPAG has also raised an issue with the European Union that the Cyprus Consumer Protection Service (CCPS) is failing to enforce the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts that Cyprus transposed into The Unfair Business-to-Consumer Commercial Practices – Law 103(I) of 2007. The European Union is continuing its Investigations.

Several other ‘interesting’ questions concern the accuracy of statements made by a government minister and the veracity of responses given by Cyprus diplomatic staff in response to questions raised by MEPs.

Further reading

UPDATE : January 2013 – Cyprus Bailout Conditions – EU Commission

Readers' comments

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  • Gavin Jones says:

    Nigel Howarth.

    It would appear that there are those who insist on twisting the truth in a vain attempt to gloss over the fact that tens of thousands of people of all nationalities have been on the receiving end of criminality perpetrated by certain developers, lawyers and banks with the connivance of government.

    Nowhere have I seen on your website any individual or organisation denigrating the Cypriots as a whole and to state that this is so is a gross untruth. If indeed this had been the case, your moderation system would have screened out such comments which would therefore not have appeared.

  • @Sergison – Thanks for your comments. But I do not believe that anyone is blaming all Cypriots or discrediting the whole country. How did you arrive at that conclusion?

    The problem rests with the crooks and conmen that masquerade as property developers, lawyers, bankers and estate agents – plus the fact that the government has only made some half-hearted attempts to fix the problem and either seems unable or unwilling to enforce existing laws and regulations.

    Cypriots with problems most probably outnumber Brits by two or three times.

    It’s also interesting to note that the Russians and Chinese have also started to raise their concerns on the Internet.

  • Sergison says:

    Eric Hunt add’s a bit more balance to these comments.

    It’s so true how this movement could have possibly alienated a whole nation. I hope British MP’s and politicians work with Cyprus to fix the property problem across the whole island, for everyone.

    The Greek Cypriots have fallen victim to the biggest property scam and it is in completely bad taste to blame them, or discredit the whole country at any opportunity.

  • jon frazer says:

    Mouflon

    I am interested to hear that you had a similar experience with these people. I hope more people come forward and post if they have had similar obstacle courses to negotiate, as my understanding is that the ECHR is not intended to be an obstacle course, but a justice system.

    Your last point puzzles me as the whole object of going initially to the CCPS, and then predictably being rejected by them, was to then automatically gain access to the ECHR without having any further recourse to the Cypriot legal system (Thank God!).

    My reading of the CPAG update gave me the impression that serious attempts had been made, unsuccessfully, to obtain legitimate information about the Cypriot defence, but that an appeal could still be made to the Ombudsman. (See CPAG Update).

  • andyp says:

    I think it would be a good first step for MEP’s to put pressure on the EU to release the letters of “defence” submitted by Cyprus in order for everyone to know what they are up against. I see no reason why these papers are confidential.

  • mouflon says:

    Jon Frazer.

    I am also in the same position as you.

    My case is also with the ECHR, but I am corresponding with a Cypriot woman.

    The same long time frame between each communication,just making the deadlines, and running out of case file stickers for all my court papers to be submitted.

    I have a feeling we are all being bunched together for one case against Cyprus.

    I tried to ask about the case,but was told they cannot communicate with me about the case,I will be told in time whether there is any outcome.

    I am also wondering if all other cases,followed their guidelines of going through the Cypriot courts first, and only then will the ECHR take on a case?

  • jon frazer says:

    Before this topic goes off the radar, I would like to (re)draw attention to the point I raised Jan 26th at 7.57 pm.

    This devious concealment of the responses of the Cyprus “side” seems unacceptable to me, especially as those of us who submitted cases to the ECHR had to run the gauntlet of having our correspondence “dealt” with by a Cypriot or Cypriots in the first instance.

    I almost lost patience with the to-ing and fro-ing this particular guy made me do. Also the suspiciously long delays (up to 3.5 weeks) for important letters to get from ECHR to here, which I only just had time to respond to. (and fulfil the petty fogging requests contained therein).

    So they had all the advantages of seeing our submissions to ECHR, and we’re not even privy to a confidential disclosure of their position.
    Does everyone else think that is OK?

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @Hunt. Aiming to discredit the whole of Cyprus? No, we let individual drivellers discredit themselves.

  • UBoat says:

    Does this Eric listen ? I doubt it.
    for the good of ALL Cyprus ! Not the wealthy powerful few.

    Time has now come for those so called untouchable few to cower in the corners of the country. That’s if they bother to stay, now it has been bled dry they will move on to pasture greener or greener clients until they to become savvy.

    CPAG keep up the good work for the good of All Cyprus.

  • Steve says:

    I used to know an Eric Hunt. He was awarded a first-class honours degree in Chemistry at Leeds University in 1968. Somehow I doubt it’s the same person.

    It is a pity that this Eric Hunt has single-handedly been able to divert this whole web site down a blind alley when dealing with such an important subject. The CPAG report has hardly received a mention.

    We have had optimistic periods before, when we felt that success was just around the corner and it wasn’t. One marker of true success will be obvious when it comes; the Cyprus government will play by the rules. Many people, including myself, thought this would happen when Cyprus joined the EU, but it didn’t. I hope that a change of government will present a new opportunity for that to happen.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Eric, just to correct you, it’s Costas, not Coostas, but it’s interesting that you knew my name before I even posted a comment!

    I suppose I should be sorry that a certain misleading and over optimistic website has recently closed down, since I appeared to have achieved cult status and had been crowned the persona most non grata for expressing opinions that were obviously disagreeable to someone who ran this website.

    I’m also sorry if the revelations that came with the truth and transparency provided by the excellent CPAG have negatively affected yours or anyone else’s standard of living or your perceptions of how things in a civilised country should actually operate for the benefit of Consumers.

    Anyway, it’s out of our hands now and we can look forwards, with the help of the Troika, to finally establishing a more European like culture and more acceptable standards of behaviour in key areas of Cyprus which should percolate down to the property sector over the next 2 years or so.

    Don’t be sad Eric, you’ve probably had a good time over the last few years, but now it’s our turn.

  • Eric Hunt says:

    Gentlemen… for intellegent individuals you assume the most ridiculous to suit your own views.

    I am reading your comments and clearly neither do you listen nor care about an alternative opinion and I did not say or infere much of what you suggest in your responses

    And that my friends, begins to unveil your single track mission to discredit all of Cyprus , rather than deal with the root cause

  • UBoat says:

    May I Begin to say a Big thank you to all at CPAG for bringing to the forefront what was below the surface for many years.

    I personally did not know the pitfalls at the beginning like many thousands of other so called aliens. It was only through experience that when I tried in the early days to get title that it became apparent that not everything was as the glossy brochures and developers chat was leading me to be.

    After a few years of Battle (To no avail)with our particular developer over Green area, drains, lights etc we found that many others where in the same Boat. Not just aliens either. And where glad that other like minded individuals decided to do something about it. After going personally down legal avenues that where blatantly led to dead ends unless you were a millionaire. So here we are all us aliens together along with many Ethnic Cypriots who are in the same Boat, trying to go forward for the GOOD of the Island to bring a happy end result for ALL.

    Those that have come after us have the benefit of the information and experience that we all discovered on our journey, This is why they did not take out the bad loans etc etc.

    So for me it is not the Cypriot people who are at fault. But the Greedy developers, their lawyers, the Banks and the government officials that have let this situation continue for many years Plus all the hangers on who have seen a quick Pound /Euro to be made. Until it was brought to light just after the height of the boom time, when people like me who brought property and where expecting title as promised at time of sale. Did not(and still have not) got it ! And for the record can afford it!

    As for negativity, Well Having gone down legal routes and sat in front of my lawyer when he told me I was wasting my time and money not to mention he had a conflict of interest when I wanted to take my Developer to court, I think that it is positive. As it said to me long ago that, Don’t trust all you hear and all you see and are promised In Cyprus Filter out the good from the Bad and live accordingly.

    Thank you again CPAG for the work done by you and many others.

    @Eric “Australia”

  • Eric Hunt says:

    frazer, janner, mckerrell , briggs….Gavin and Coostas will no doubt follow in defiance thet you are always right.

    I am none of the things you say below…and you are confusing mne with pehaps others who have the same opinion.

    MP’s amd MEP’s to fight your battles is hilarious ..they could not care about the result just tther own self impotance.

    You and the CPAG have done much damage and that is why you have less sympathy than you deserve

  • andyp says:

    @ Eric. Malta. The choice is rather limited as there are only two island States in the med.

    Anyway reading your posts are you actually saying that no one should speak out about the property problems in Cyprus and that everyone in difficulty has brought their plight on themselves?

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    @Jon

    I wonder if Mr Hunt knows Eco Man, Mr Holland, ?

  • jon frazer says:

    Dear Mr Hunt
    Do you happen to know of anyone who sells log cabins?

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @Eric Hunt. Your assertion that “The Title Deed issue only became a big issue because the CPAG and others made it so… before this the sale of property still existed easily and peacefully in Cyprus” is arrant nonsense.

    CPAG only arose BECAUSE the issue had already become a national scandal. The fact that it then became an international scandal is because the Cyprus authorities failed to act and remedy it.

    Much of your wording betrays a consummate self-interest that you appear to believe has been damaged by the effectiveness of CPAG in laying bare the facts on behalf of the 130,000 deedless and the victims of fraud.

    Could that self-interest in any way be connected with a career in property development, property selling or your having made unwise investments? As a defender of the indefensible, you do sound very much like one of the perpetrators.

  • Janner says:

    Eric – The fact that you do not ‘get it’ means you must be one of them. And by that I mean one of those who wants things to stay the way they are because they have too much to lose to put it right.

    When we say Cyprus we mean Cyprus as a governed country and not every individual who lives there. We are not attacking individuals we are attempting to put right a state wrong.

    Cyprus joined the EU voluntarily. They knew what they were signing up for and cannot run away crying the victim when they are taken to task about important issues which affect the lives of other EU citizens.

    How would you feel if you had paid for your property in full only to find that you don’t really own it and that the bank can take it back as there is other debt secured against it?

    You’re making this personal, I assume because it has damaged your business/wealth somehow, but it is not. It is about changing procedures for the benefit of all. Do you think it is a coincidence that the TROIKA are taking their time over the loan books of the banks? They are taking their time because it is unsustainable to operate this way and the risks are too high.

    Come down off your high horse, stop making it personal and put forward a logical argument as for why it should stay the way it is.

  • Adrian says:

    It is all very well saying that the title deed backlog will be caught up but if you have to pay the double mortgage plus interest and income tax for your developer you are no better off, the banks, lawyers and developers should be brought to task.

    I have noted Eric Hunts comments and agree with most of them, except about the title deeds. If you do not have your title deeds and the developer goes bust you will be at the mercy of everybody that he owed money to, even if there was no mortgage on your particular plot the title held by the developer is all part of his assets and could be at risk, and of course “foreigners” are made welcome here until we take them to task and then they switch to the Russians and Chinese. We are their biggest source of income when the tourists have gone back home, if you work out how many ex-pats live here and how much they spend every month we are probably their biggest source of income.

  • Robert Briggs says:

    @Eric Hunt,(is that your real name?) please tell me, are you an Estate Agent based in Cyprus? in the pay of the major property developers here? CPAG has put in a great deal of effort in fighting for justice, on behalf of the property buyers who have been cheated and ripped off!

    So have you any more smart comments to make?? R.B.

  • Eric Hunt says:

    For the record. I am aware the deed is cheap and the taxation thats follows is not

  • Eric Hunt says:

    Some positives…

    In what other country can you enjoy all the benefits of a Meditterannean Island as an alien ..freedom of speech, freedom of movement, double taxation treaty..the list is endless.

    live in a relatively low crime country

    enjoy the best views, the best culture, 10,000 years of history, 300 days of sun

    be totally accepted as aliens…until you rattled those that welcomed you in the first place

    Blame everything on everyone else except yourselves and not get reprisals from the country you are trying to harm

    Be able to sell and transfer your ownership on a commodity you have not yet paid in full for…whilst enjoying living in your own home in peace despite not getting a piece of paper you crave, but cannot afford.

    The Title Deed issue only became a big issue because the CPAG and others made it so….before this the sale of property still existed easily and peacefully in Cyprus

    Thousands of people all over the world are trapped in the economic fallout of reccession and will be for many many years….Not all of them blame everyone else

    Thousands of people have lost millions on the Markets …..hundreds have gained.

    Apart from a piece of paper, that will cost you money that you have not got, what other real advantage do you get
    the Deed will come…eventually….the Amnesty proved this !

    How many supported the Amnesty

    FACT…none of my clients since 2005 have Title Deed issues, all have sound contracts, all had good legal advice, all did not buy Alpha Paneretti because they were advised not to,all have Sterling , cyp or euro mortgages, all listened to good financial advice.All were advised who to buy from and who not to.

    Were they just lucky ….No they did their due diligence…unlike the majority of the lambs that were lead to financial slaughter.

    Certain Lawyers in Cyprus are doing everything they can to help and I fully and actively support them in their fight.

    What has happened to many is sickening, heartbreaking, and has been fraud by some and has ruined lives !

    BUT …you have attacked the probelm in the wrong way , you have alienated a Nation, prevented further investment and after 7 long years have only now got MP’s aand MEP’s to move of the soft seats they occupy for personal gain.And even this is not your doing.

    The country of Cyprus did not harm the victims…the system let them down, but the CPAG continue to speak about it as if it is the whole nation rather than a big list of bad apples.

    Banks are your enemy not the people and future investors…

    they lent money on encumbered land ..it is them that should have been held responsible and maybe soon they will be !

    I agree it’s a mess…I agree I am very disappointed to say the least…but as has been said by too few on here before…look in the mirror…as to speak and act everyday so negatively will undoubtedly make you ill whether you win or lose your fight.

    My guess is that not many of the 130,000 care enough to assist you !

  • @Eric Hunt – Title Deeds cost a couple of Euros; everyone could afford to pay for them.

    But I think you may be talking about Property Transfer Fees – a government tax; the Cypriot equivalent of the UK Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) that is paid by those buying property to secure its ownership?

    There are many reasons preventing the transfer of ownership. Andreas Symeou, a former high ranking civil servant in the Department of Lands & Surveys wrote an article that you may find interesting – see Thousands of Title Deeds waiting to be transferred.

    You may also be interested to read by article Cyprus property owners association calls for action – George Strovolides the President of the Cyprus Association of Property Owners (KSIA) talking about the problem.

    And I guess that you may be unaware that in the early days CPAG and KSIA joined forces in an effort to resolve the many issues – see Property groups join forces to battle for buyers rights.

    Do you think KSIA has alienated the whole country – or is it just CPAG?

    I agree that not all developers, lawyers, etc., are neither corrupt nor thieves. But unfortunately, those who are have been joined by a number of British developers as you will see if you search the archives.

  • andyp says:

    Eric. Might I inquire what you have done to help over last seven years? You seem rather upset at others who have nothing to gain helping others.

  • Peter Davis says:

    @Eric Hunt

    I have been on placard waving demo’s with CPAG. They are a group of people who have been there to help, advise and in some cases counsel victims who have been tricked into parting with their money.

    After all how many of the 130,000 would have handed over all their life savings knowing they may never get ownership of their home? Not many I think.

    I call it theft and dishonesty what do you call it?

  • Eric Hunt says:

    Dear Nigel

    but how many of the 130,000 can actually afford to pay for the Title Deeds.Do they all really want them now ??

    I think that many do not !

    Send out a letter to 130,000 victims and tell them they can pick them up next week…i wonder how mant would turn up

    Be careful what you wish for

  • @Eric Hunt – thank you for your comments – but I suspect that the 130,000 people (both Cypriot and foreigners) who are waiting for their Title Deeds would disagree with you.

    The Cyprus Property Action Group (CPAG) was commissioned by a Finance Minister in the previous government to write a report on the situation and what could be done to alleviate the many problems. That report, see Cyprus Property Pitfalls: a time for action – was delivered to the minister’s office (by hand) at the start of 2008.

    In addition to the Finance Minister, representatives from CPAG have held meetings with the Interior Minister and high-ranking civil servants.

    Exasperated at the lack of any meaningful progress, CPAG sought the assistance of the European Union.

    As for the few hundred people who are taking their case for alleged negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract in the High Court in London – they are just the tip of a very large iceberg.

  • jon frazer says:

    Firstly a big “Thank you” to CPAG for their continued and unstinting work to achieve the present encouraging developments. Additionally, our thanks go to the UK MEPs who have kept up the pressure.

    I studied the report last night, and was quite disturbed by the issues which are partly referred to in your last paragraph. It would seem that the Cypriot “side” has managed to circumvent a provision which under normal circumstances would permit the petitioning party to see correspondence between Cyprus and the EU.

    The EU’s rationale is that it understands that Cyprus would feel untrusted if the correspondence were to be revealed (albeit confidentially).

    If it is possible to appeal this unusual and exceptional decision, on the grounds that it is very much in the public interest that we know what they are telling the EU, then I think an appeal must be lodged.

  • Andrew says:

    Does the “swift clearing of encumbrances” mean that Banks will allow title deeds to be issued to buyers even though there are outstanding developer mortgages. Will the banks have to deal directly with developers and not be allowed to repossess the homes of hapless buyers.

  • Eric Hunt says:

    There is a difference to squelling like a stuffed pig and lobbying !

    You have had 7 years to do something positive and instead have alienated the whole country and those that could have helped the cause.

    Your methods have had little or no baring on the state of play today and cannot be attributed to the CPAG

    The work of lawyers in UK have been instrumental in recent success not the placard waving, annoying ex -pats who did’nt read the small print and listened to IFA’s in the North Of England and poor Bank Advise in Cyprus.

    Not all lwyers are bad, not the whole country is corupt, not all developers are thieves….so think long and hard before you blight a whole Nation !

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