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Troika back-tracks on Title Deed backlog

The Troika has dashed the hopes of those waiting for Title Deeds to be issued for the reported backlog of 130,000 ‘deed-less’ properties as it has changed the scope and definition of ‘the backlog’.

MANY who were hoping that agreement between the Cyprus Government and the troika of international lenders would result in their receiving their Title Deeds, pinned their hopes on the following statement contained in the Memorandum of Understanding issued on 12 April 2013:

“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 Cypriot 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 certificates and title deeds;”

However, this statement has been replaced in the latest Memorandum of Understanding issued following the troika’s recent visit to Cyprus (which I believe has yet to be ratified) with the following:

“Ensure that the title deed issuance backlog drops to less than 2,000 cases of immovable property units with title deed issuance pending for more than one year by Q4-2014 (backlog refers to (i) applications, (ii) units that are eligible for the “ex officio” issuance of title deeds, required certificates and permits).

“The ex-officio cases will automatically be counted in the backlog from the date the certificate of final approval is being issued by the respective Local or District Authority. Moreover, prepare a joint action plan to streamline the processes within the DLS and between the DLS, the Local and District Authorities and the Ministry of Interior Technical Services by Q2-2014;”

What this revised statement means is that:

It does not refer to all the reported 130,000 properties that have yet to be issued with Title Deeds, but only to those where:

  • An application has been made to the Land Registry to issue its Title Deed.
  • A Certificate of Final Approval has been issued.

Applications for Certificates of Final Approval and the issuance of Title Deeds are the responsibility of the developer and so any pressure that the original MoU placed on developers to act responsibly has been removed.

Furthermore, in this latest issue of the MoU the requirement: “The Cypriot 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…” has been removed.

This apparent back-tracking by the troika will not be welcomed – questions need to be asked.

Perhaps the troika uncovered some hitherto unknown facts, in the same way that many property buyers uncovered a hitherto unknown fact when they discovered they’d been duped into buying a home built on mortgaged land?

Readers' comments

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  • tony babbington says:

    Does this mean they have been paid off as well or am I just a cynic?

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @Nigel. I stand corrected. However, from experience (I not only used to buy my own PI cover but also organize it for a large team) I do know that whereas technical professionals in the UK typically take cover in the GBP 5mln-10mln range, lawyers, accountants and medics typically take cover above GBP 10mln. A one-man-band may be only able to afford a lower premium whereas a corporate practice is likely to take out much higher cover.

    Insurance cover on offer in Cyprus is, in my opinion, woefully inadequate in a number of areas. Ten years ago, when secretary to the owners’ committee of an apartment complex, the maximum public liability cover on offer here was CypPounds 400,000 compared with bog standard GBP 2mln in the UK. Things have improved but are still lagging.

  • @Denton Mackrell – If I may correct you regarding Professional Indemnity Insurance in the UK:

    “The sum insured for any one claim (exclusive of defence costs) must be, where the insured firm is a relevant recognised body or a relevant licensed body (in respect of its regulated activities), at least £3 million, and in all other cases, at least £2 million.

    There must be no monetary limit on the cover for defence costs.”

    Source: The Solicitors Regulation Authority Handbook.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @Andyp. Your case was very high profile in the media yet the Cyprus judiciary just ignored it. Other high profile cases e.g. Gavin Jones have followed with similar impact on the judiciary.

    If the judiciary right up to the level of the Supreme Court President and the Attorney General keep turning a blind eye, it suggests that not only is the corrupt system regarded by them as ‘fit for purpose’ (that’s what they keep telling the EU) but the degenerate behaviour of lawyers, judges and other co-conspirators is actually regarded as laudable. No lawyer here is a ‘proper’ lawyer unless and until he has lost his cherry by colluding in fraud against a naïve property buyer. No judge here is a ‘proper’ judge unless and until he has blamed a victim for being beaten up, dismissed a case against a flagrant fraudster, allowed a fraudster to keep his stolen assets or handed down a derisory token sentence. The 1 month jail for a lawyer convicted of multiple driving offences (pardoned after the AG’s instruction to President Christofias) and the absurdly low 15 month sentence in the recent Limassol lawyer fraud conviction……. All a sick parody of judicial probity.

    Regarding professional indemnity insurance, in the UK the minimum compulsory PI cover for lawyers is, I believe, GBP 20 mln. In Cyprus? Probably not enough to cover a metrio in the court cafeteria!!

  • andyp says:

    @millstone.

    There is a small problem trying to sue your solicitor in Cyprus as I found out many years ago when I was about to try. You have to suffer loss i.e. loss of your home or be forced to pay your developers debt. The latter is debatable if you voluntarily pay it.

    In addition when I went to go down this road in 2008 I found out that Cyprus lawyers were not required to have insurance. They now do but it would be interesting to know how many actually comply.

    jjames also raises a very important question. Are too many heads still in the sand or have times changed? I recall trying to raise issues and gather information on the scale of the problem on a certain forum and like others who tried was “laughed” off.

    I also recall when Denis O’Hare (CPAG) was taken to court by a certain developer, for essentially helping victims, very few turned up at court to support him and his family. A disgrace in my humble opinion.

    Maybe they should have confiscated our bus passes than threatened our homes and there would have been more of a fight!

    What now?

  • jjames says:

    @UBoat Who are “we”?……..the people who write on these forums?….the people who share the same apartment block/complex?….the people who have complained to the CCPS? ….the people who signed Lyn Guy’s petition? etc. etc.

    It would be good to know how united we all are and, out of the 130,000 non-holders of title deeds, how many are actively complaining.

    Does anyone have this kind of information?

  • John Swift says:

    Don’t talk get on to the EU/MEPs and keep at them they are the only body who can do anything in conjunction with the CPAG.

  • millstone says:

    Well, as one of the many who has a developer’s mortgage + unpaid taxes and unpaid everything I live in fear of losing my only home. Great! Thanks Troika.

    A minion of David Lidington, Minister for Europe replied today to an email I sent basically explaining the situation that i had just explained to him. His comment of “Our lobbying is making a difference” indicates that he too is blindfolded.

    Good news maybe? “New measures related to property are currently being implemented by the Cypriot Government. However, we have not yet been informed about what action will be taken for purchasers with existing developer mortgages, both British and other nationals” Are they?

    His only active advice is to sue the solicitor.

    He has encouraging words “As part of the Troika MOU which set Eurozone conditions for its bail-out, Cyprus is in the process of reforming its property laws including implementing guaranteed timeframes for the issuance of building certificates and title deeds, and making improvements to the pace of court case handling. Successive Troika reports have stated that Cyprus is making good progress in implementing the MoU conditions.

    The Cypriot Government appears to be making good steps towards taking forward many of the requirements laid down in the memorandum. We currently still do not know how they are going to handle developer mortgages. This will require changes in legislation which we are advised are being worked upon.”

    Is he on the same page?

    What do we do folks? Cant we all band together and lobby the relevant people. Perhaps Nigel could advise a Plan of Action. We cant just sit here and do nothing!

  • UBoat says:

    Thats it then, it is what most of us feared. The developers, solicitors, Government of Cyprus and Now the European Union and its representatives (Troika) all appear to be part of the same deception plan. Reportedly orchestrated by the top men in the Cypriot Government who still appear to be covering their tracks now using the so called trusted words of the EU…… Well now what ??? Shall we all stop paying Tax’s or mortgages and see how the EU and the Law come down very quickly on us …. to get the money when all we want is the legal title we where all promised when we purchased.

    When the EU and law just ignore us when it suits them.

    Have a nice Day.

  • liz says:

    @Andrew – There is probably only one person that Sir Graham or Dan Hannan would trust to write a question on Cyprus property matters for them to ask. Don’t worry it is all in hand.

    This situation was only a matter of time considering that those who ‘run’ Cyprus for their own benefit would have to deceive the Troika into going for the bailout/bail in.

    Conned is an understatement – and then some, but who is surprised considering what we are dealing with!

  • Andrew says:

    The Troika have done a complete U Turn. What does that say about their integrity or their initial understanding of the real estate problems in Cyprus.

    Maybe Sir Graham Watson, Mr Daniel Hannan or some other distinguished person will care to ask what will happen to the 130,000 home-buyers who have been duped by an EU member state.

    Would Mr.Baroso or MS Reding like to tell 130,000 home-buyers that they have all been collectively stuffed by their lawyers, by their Banks, by their developers and ultimately by a full EU member, called Cyprus.

  • Brian Lait says:

    I doubt that the troika has uncovered anything. If they had, they would probably cover it up again pretty darned quickly. I suggest that the original target was pie in the sky. In the commercial world it might have been achievable, since staff would work their socks off (weekends, public holidays, longer daily working hours) to reach the target, but here we are dealing with two immediate road blocks: a) the troika is made up of EU and IMF foot soldiers who don’t understand, or care about, the real world and b) one of the biggest over-bloated, overpaid and under-worked Civil Services in the EU, if not the world. The original target looked good, indeed great. After taking a few extra coffee breaks, during which the whole plan was talked about in detail, the government told the troika it could not be achieved, so the troika agree to the goal posts being moved.

    Do they care? No, they do not. They arrive on yet another jolly with a number of boxes that have to be ticked. The underlying mantra at all times is: let the government do pretty much what they want, just make sure the Euro is not jeopardized.

    That’s why the supposed privatisation of the SGOs has been pushed to 2018. Watch this space and how, over time, the government will be slowly but surely manipulating things in the hope that there are no privatisations at all.

  • Janner says:

    Don’t panic everyone. Remember, finances are doing well and a glowing ‘on track’ report from the recent troika review means capital controls will be lifted soon!……..mmmmmm………something doesn’t add up here.

  • Martyn's says:

    Why are none of us surprised?!!!!

    The Troika, at last, have revised their projections and are, effectively saying ‘Cyprus : you presided over all this, now Sort It’

    I agree with virtually every statement, comment below.

    But, sadly I had expected this when I prophesied last year and the year before that total bailouts would exceed €20bn, there were such irregularities in the banking and developer-lawyer practices that it looked nigh on certain that the banks would have to go after the end purchasers unless the corruption was turned upside down and they had to chase the defaulting developers, many of whom had gone Bust, and/or moved their ill-gotten gains to ‘safer places’.

    An awful, awful mess and the Troika’s recent actions strongly suggest their ‘stress testers’ and ‘bail-out negotiators’ allowed themselves to be bamboozled by the various parties, including government it seems, into thinking Cyprus was a decent trading nation with adequate banking controls and reasonably honest lawyers.

    One can only wonder in horror now about all this is going to work out!!

  • Martyn says:

    M Hannah you are so right I totally agree we have been left to rot in the cess pit that is the Cypriot government, everything is a scam.

  • andyp says:

    Like many I too am of the view that all the crooks have closed ranks and victims of this property scam have now been officially hung out to dry to protect the scheming banks, lying developers and crooked lawyers.

    We have had the bank bail in and now for the property bail in.

    Regrettably I cannot post what I truly think of these people but I hope a warm welcome awaits them when their time comes.

  • Joe Hunnam says:

    Troika Back-Tracks on Title Deed Backlog.

    Why am I not surprised.

    Cyprus is experiencing a housing slump, record low property sales empty houses littering the landscape,
    I thought they were the real estate experts.

    Sort the Title Deeds Fiasco, what a mess

    Kind Regards

    Joe Hunnam

  • cypruspropertyscam says:

    Utter disgrace.

    Hopefully everyone with a Cypriot mortgage will now stop making payments to the banks. I appeal for 100% NPLs. Break the banks unless they fix this scam.

  • Steve says:

    This is no surprise. When the Troika first visited Cyprus, the numbers coming out regarding bank debts and what Cyprus needed as a bail out were minuscule when compared with the truth. Now they know that order to accomplish the timing on title deeds contained in the original statement, the banks would have had to give up on huge sums in unpaid mortgages.

    The conflict of interest between title deeds on the one hand and protecting the banks and the Euro on the other, gives us insight once again into the EU’s priorities. A few tens of thousands of title deeds only matter when the bigger fish have been fried.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    This makes Delia and Vincenzo at the Troika look like a couple of prize chumps for meekly accepting as truthful all they were told by the Cypriot authorities. Anyone who knows Cyprus automatically assumes that EVERYTHING coming out of official sources here is either a lie or a calculated deception.

    It also sets back any possible recovery of the Cyprus property market by many years beyond the ‘mere’ effect of the current crisis i.e. 4-5 years to crawl out of the 2013 bailout, then plus an indefinite period until and unless the 130,000 backlog are both issued and transferred. Cyprus developers might be well advised to think of a different career rather than live in hope of a recovery.

  • Richard says:

    Here we go – as soon as the media interest dies down & relief from the bail-out starts flowing – all of the characteristics of the great Cypriot property rip-off revert to type.

    You have to assume that the EU doesn’t employ retards (even though we may make jokes). The only logical conclusion is therefore to assume that the sovereign corruption is being OK’d by the other E.U. member states.

    What other conclusion can there be?

    Check out Hordur Torfason – the man who bought down the corrupt government of Iceland – peaceably. Maybe we can all learn something from him?

  • Stuart says:

    Revealed at last is the result everyone suspected would be the outcome when one corrupt body is sent to control another. Despite valiant attempts by numerous MEPs and others to bring some order to the Title Deeds chaos, the culprits escape justice once again, possibly for ever.

    The primary aim of the EU has been to prevent Cyprus (or any other insolvent member for that matter) from exiting the fold and bringing the whole thing into ridicule. The recent pontifications by Ms Viviane Reding clearly demonstrate her infatuation with preserving the ‘United States of Europe’ agenda.

    Given the fact that the EU auditors have refused to sign off the EU accounts for the last 19 years due to the level of fraud and corruption that exists within its organisations, it should be no surprise that the Troika will move the goal posts to accommodate the Cyprus government. They will even change the stadium.

  • Mrs shermer says:

    When we asked “how long have we got to wait for our Title Deeds”, They answered “Well we now have MORE STAFF and COMPUTERS!” We have now got our Title Deed and still had to wait 3 years even though we had paid over all our money for our property to the original owners of our property.

    The President has stated that the staff at the Land Registry will be increased and also that the staff must now work longer hours. A seven hour day for a Cypriot has never been heard of. We know there is not always enough hours in a day but, this is now not the case if there is

    1) staff doing longer hours and

    2) They NOW HAVE COMPUTERS !!!!

    We wait with bated breath !

    There is now no reason why people can’t work longer hours even in summer as they now have AIR CONDITIONING TOO……

    The Land Registry could take on more staff but, as part timers… two people doing “a one persons job”. Then these people would not get to tired and a 7 hour day would be covered. After all that’s what the UK do especially in small companies and just like supermarkets. Cyprus must move with the times and catch up with the rest of the hard working world in this 21st century.

  • kufrahdog says:

    The reality is that the Troika’s mission was always to save Cyprus financially and any relief from the title deed scam would be a by-product of the mission. The Troika and the European Commission do not care about those affected by the title deed scam.

    By changing the goal posts in this revised MoU the Troika and Government of Cyprus have adopted a plan that will enable the management of the NPL debt mountain of €26 billion without:

    1) the need for another loan from international lenders and

    2) risking the threat to ‘social cohesion’ brought about by mass repossession of properties held as collateral by lending banks.

    KD

  • Mike says:

    No surprise here then. When will we ever learn?

  • Adrian says:

    The Troika officials obviously believed every word that they were told by the “respectable” politicians, bankers etc. just as we did when we first purchased here and double checked with lawyers etc.

    So I can see how the troika were fooled but they should know better. They thought that they were leading and the Cypriots were following guidelines.

    Wrong, they didn’t realise “you have to be 100% behind someone to stab them in the back”.

  • Janner says:

    First of all, let’s be clear that what has happened is intentional. There is no mistake, no lack of information, no pulling of wool over the eyes. The Cypriot government and the troika have done this with their eyes wide open.

    Some may say that this will go against the aim of restoring confidence in banking and the property market. This is true but this aim is a public aim.

    In reality it is about protecting the developers and ensuring that the collateral stays in control of the banks. The fact that the troika have so publicly agreed to this presents a problem for us as to who do we turn to for help. The troika are continuing to bail out a insolvent banks and a state with EU taxpayers money.

    The gravy train rolls on and on with no attempt to tackle NPLs. Let’s face it. This is all about NPLs and keeping the sovereign soil of Cyprus in the pockets of the ruling elite.

  • Steve.R says:

    Another nail in the coffin of the property market. Just when potential buyers thought they had a bit of security, the only people they thought they had on their side have gone and backtracked.

  • @Gavin Jones – the only thing I can say in defence of the troika regarding due diligence is that they only know what they’ve been told and gleaned from the information they’ve been given.

    Clearly they’ve been speaking to the wrong people.

  • Gavin Jones says:

    Phew! The Cyprus government are off the hook yet again and what a relief for the vested interests which have been instrumental in destroying the very fabric of commercial life with their criminality.

    Talk about a body swerve by the troika. It also betrays their total lack of due diligence and hence inability to understand what they’re dealing with. Shameful and unforgivable.

  • M Hannah says:

    SO, it is as I, and nearly everyone who bought a Property on this Island thought, the EU have no real powers or Interest in our Bad luck in buying here, they are just as corrupt, we will get no justice here. It is in the lap of the Gods “The Greek Gods”

    Roll on another 10 years.

  • andyp says:

    Must have come as a shock!

    We have been telling them for years and V Redding and her clowns refused to listen.

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