Latest Headlines

How many properties without Title Deeds?

Although a figure of 130,000 has often been quoted for the number of properties waiting to be issued with Title Deeds, this was based on statistics published by the Department of Lands and Surveys in 2008.

Title Deed Gordian KnotIN OCTOBER 2008, the Land Registry presented figures showing the overseas demand for property and highlighting delays in the issuance of their Title Deeds.

In summary:

  • Between January 2005 and June 2008 a total of 37,769 overseas buyers purchased 29,949 properties whose Title Deeds had yet to be transferred. This figure of 29,949 included properties for which Title Deeds had yet to be issued plus those whose Title Deeds were in the process of being issued.
  • During the same three and a half year period, 4,440 properties were transferred to 5,988 overseas buyers.

(However, the figures did not reveal how many properties had been issued with Title Deeds that had not been transferred).

The article accompanying the figures reported that sales to overseas buyers accounted for 3 out of 10 sales of property.

Theoretical Title Deeds backlog

Based on the figures published in 2008 – and assuming that the 7 out of 10 property sold to the domestic market were also waiting for Title Deeds to be issued – we can assume that a total 17,760 properties were transferred over the three and a half year period to both domestic and overseas purchasers; an average of 423/month.

According to the figures published by the Department of Lands and Surveys, we know that  a total of 183,556 properties have been sold since 2000. If we assume that over the same period of time that the Land Registry has maintained an average transfer rate of 423 properties/month, the number of transfers since 2000 is 423 * 169 = 71,487.

Based on the various assumptions above, the number of properties whose Title Deeds have yet to be transferred is 112,069 (183,556 – 71,487). But this figure does not include sales that took place before 2000 and, therefore, the actual number will be somewhat higher; a figure of between 120,000 and 130,000 is not unreasonable.

However, the Department of Lands and Surveys has published no statistics that provide the actual numbers of properties waiting for Title Deeds.

The Troika

It seems that the Troika may have identified the problem and this resulted in them back-tracking on the requirement for Cyprus to reduce the Title Deed backlog to less than 2,000 cases of immovable property units with title deed issuance pending for more than one year by Q4-2014.

Buried in section 1.29 of the latest Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which was issued on 12 April 2013, is the requirement that:

The authorities will establish a Task Force (comprising representatives of Central Bank of Cyprus, Ministry of Finance, the Law Office of the Republic and the Land Register) by end-March to prepare a study assessing the magnitude of registered, but untitled land sales contracts and underlying mortgages and develop recommendations by end-June.

Clearly, much work has yet to be done to assess how many properties are waiting for Title Deeds and the underlying mortgages preventing their transfer; hopefully things will become clearer later this year.

But land sales contracts? Does this include all immovable property sales – i.e. land, commercial property and residential property or just sales of land?

And what about the many other impediments that prevent the transfer of a property to its purchaser such as court judgements in favour of the vendor’s creditors, claims for unpaid Immovable Property and Capital Gains Taxes, costs for the construction of a street, etc?

What a mess!

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • aggis demetriou says:

    Did you really think the Troika was going to sort out the title deed mess?

    The Troika just want to lend money not get into a legal mess with titles, unless you guys start to protest outside dear Nick’s palace nobody will get any titles.

    These district office don’t like giving final approvals, in Limassol you have 2 inspectors who probably visit about 4 properties a week, it will almost take about 400 years before they can inspect all properties, and once inspected it can take a further 2 years before title is issued.

    I think all with no titles should protest with their feet, just like the Chinese done last November at a property expo in China, there was about 80 students walking around with white tee shirts on warning buyers not to buy property in Cyprus (well done for these Chinese)

    So what’s the next step for the people who bought property with no titles? Should we just sit back and wait 400 years?

  • Peter Davis says:

    @Robinson

    Write to the President of the Court .. Dean Spielmann and lodge a complaint.

  • Robinson Crusoe says:

    @M Hannah- you raise a good point about non-communication.

    In 2012 I submitted a case through CPAG to the ECHR. I have since tried on three occasions to contact the court, the last letter being to the president of the ECHR, Dean Spielman.

    My letters were reasonable in tone and concerned serious developments (threatening email from the developer); they were properly sent by recorded delivery and tracked; they were bar-coded and accompanied by ample reply-paid coupons.

    I have not received a response or acknowledgement after almost nine months.

    Although not being rejected by the ECHR, I can find no record of my case on their websites.

    Anyone else had a similar experience?

  • M Hannah says:

    SO !! John. Are you going to tell us who that Expat forum is? The whole Problem is THAT no-one wants to tell or can’t tell or whatever, No-one seems to know anything about the Title Deeds when or indeed IF we will ever get Them. The sad part is that the Cypriot Government does not care one way or the other, if they did they would have sorted this out long ago. Without the EU even getting involved.
    A Great chance missed I Think, to do the Right Thing.

  • John Swift says:

    What is upsetting is that there were people in the know, people who were in a position to inform others of the dangers that there investments could be in but they kept their mouths shut even to the point of one expat forum in particular where the subject was virtually banned until it was too late for many.

  • andyp says:

    Thanks Nigel.

    I shall leave instructions for my grandsons to keep an eye on the post!

  • @andyp – the troika have opened a can of worms, we’ll have to see what comes out officially (and what gets leaked).

    Incidentally, a friend of ours called by yesterday clutching a Title Deed that the Land Registry has just issued for the plot of land that she and her late husband bought when they were 35. She’s now 71!

    She now has to transfer the land to her name – and then add the house that she and her husband built in the last century!

  • andyp says:

    A breakdown on the reasons (developer mortgages, planning problems, unpaid taxes) would be interesting in order that the problems could be addressed or not as the case may be.

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

  • Text size

Back to top