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Getting your Title Deed issued

Those waiting for the all-important Title Deed to be issued for the property they purchased can request the Land Registry to issue its deeds, providing a Certificate of Approval for the property has been issued.

Title Deed Gordian KnotINTRODUCED in 2011, changes to the law enable those who have bought property and have deposited their sale contract at the Land Registry are able to request the Land Registry to issue its Title Deed.

Here is an extract from the Department of Lands and Surveys Citizens Charter, which gives an overview of the process of updating title:

Updating of Title Deed

Updating of title, means the registration of immovable property, resulting from replacement of existing registration or registrations with a new registration or registrations, due to the alteration of the immovable property (such as erecting or demolishing buildings or if a borehole has been drilled) and it includes the registration of jointly owned buildings and jointly owned building units.

According to the amendments of the law, in 2011, updating of title may be carried out upon an application of the registered owner(s), either compulsorily by the Director, who may act voluntarily or upon an application of the Competent Authority, or upon an application by a person having an interest in the property, including a mortgagor or purchaser who has deposited the sale contract, pursuant to the Sale of Immovable Property (Specific Performance) Law 81(I) of 2011.

Where the applicant is the registered owner, the application is filed by the registered owner or his attorney at any District Lands Office, regardless of the district where the immovable property is situated. Such application must include the reason for requesting an updating of the title (e.g. to be based on the plans made to scale, for registering or striking off a building from the land register, etc) and the following documents must be attached thereto:

  • certificate of registration (title) of the property,
  • building permit with all plans and terms attached thereto,
  • certificate of approval of building,
  • permit for partition,
  • permit for the well and plan attached thereto, and
  • demolition permit etc.

All prescribed fees must be paid upon filing of the application (refer to the Fees and Charges leaflet).

The consideration of the above application presupposes the carrying out of a local enquiry in the applicant’s presence and often in the presence of the President of the Community Council or Mukhtar or any representative thereof. The time for consideration of the application varies depending on the particularity of each case, the accumulated volume of work and available personnel.

Where the Director proceeds to a compulsory updating of title, then the registered owner or owners are called, within 60 days from the date of posting the notice, to either submit the required documents to the appropriate Lands Office for the required updating of the title, or to give sufficient reasons for not updating thereof.

If the owner complies with the Director’s notice, the updating process continues with the owner being the applicant. Where the owner, fails to comply with the Director’s notice, or the reasons for not updating is not deemed as sufficiently justified, then the Director proceeds with the compulsory updating and at the same time he may impose on the owner an administrative fine up to €10,000. During the examination of the compulsory updating, the Director may request the owner, or any person having an interest in the property or from any competent authority, to produce any documents, plans or other data deemed necessary for the examination of the case.

A significant amendment with respect to the issuing of an updated title is the possibility to issue title deeds with notes in relation to building irregularities, and titles with notes prohibiting voluntary transfers, but this does not in any way legitimise the irregularities or unauthorised works.

It is noted that, in the case of partition of jointly owned buildings, a separate title may be issued for remaining, non-utilised development rights (unlimited building coverage ratio).

In all cases of title updating, the new titles are issued in the name/names of the owner/owners of the initial registration, in accordance to the distribution accepted and agreed by all.

Editor’s comments

Before you get wildly ecstatic about a change in the law enabling purchasers to request Title Deeds to be issued, please note:

  • Although a Title Deed may be issued, it could still be encumbered by a developer’s mortgage and/or other charges making the transfer of a property to its rightful owner impossible.
  • Even though the Title may not be encumbered by a developer’s mortgage or other claims, the developer may not have paid Immovable Property Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax, which would again prevent the transfer of a property to its rightful owner.
  • The ‘interested party’ (i.e. the purchaser) will have to produce any documents, plans or other data deemed necessary for the examination of the case. If the developer refuses to supply the information, what happens then?

I’m wondering just how many people will actually be able to take advantage of this change in the law?

Surely it would have been simpler just to instruct the Director to proceed with a compulsory updating of title in cases where a Certificate of Final Approval had been issued – or am I missing something?

Readers' comments

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  • @David Burrows – The Land Registry assesses the market value of a property at it’s date of sale using its historical data and will use this figure to calculate the Property Transfer Fees payable.

    So if you bought a villa for (say) €200,000 and the Land Registry’s records list sales of similar properties at €225,000 your transfer fees will be based €225,000.

    If your contract deposited at the Land Registry, it will accept the date of sale shown on the Contract of Sale as being correct. However, if your contract was not deposited you will have to prove when you actually bought the property. (This could be a receipt for the initial payment, etc).

    If you do not agree with the Land Registry’s valuation you can obtain an independent valuation from a certified valuer and contest in the High Court.

    Please search for “property transfer fees” in the box at the top of the – I’ve published several articles about this problem and how to deal with it.

    State-sponsored fleecing is island-wide is a good one to read first.

  • David Burrows says:

    Help! I am currently in the the process of getting my title deeds and have been told that the amount I have to pay is based on a more up to date valuation on my house as opposed to the actual amount stated and stamped on the contract. Can they do this? It means an extra 5k which I haven’t got.

  • Phil says:

    @Kate, @Nigel it would appear from your experience of paying your IPT was different to mine. I like you only had my land title deeds when I went to pay my IPT but they (the Land Registry) asked if I had property on it and then proceeded to ring the relevant department for an valuation. €58000 was forthcoming for 1980 value to which I paid the IPT on. How on earth they can value land at 1980 prices with no property on then demand this amount for a house that was not even built until 2010 and then only placed on my title deeds in 2014 beggars believe.

    @Nigel, I do hope you are correct in your assumption. However one of the points I was making is that the valuation of my property was carried out by unprofessional and incompetent land registry personnel (yes I said that) walking around with clipboard and land map valuing property. What system was in place, what experience do they have and more importantly is there any appeal system in place, as that little man in land registry WILL use this valuation for tax purpose irrespective of the amount you actually sold it for being considerably lower.

    Regards
    Keep up the good work
    Phil

  • Tony Deighton says:

    We visited Cyprus on holiday some 4 years ago, every place we visited had brochures advertising real estate and they all had some blurb about how to avoid paying tax by the developer holding the title deeds. It screamed scam and only the greedy would fall for it, it was obvious the developer was going to use the title deeds for something they shouldn’t.

    I’ve no sympathy for those who thought it was OK to con the Cypriot Govt by avoiding tax, but now want that same Govt’s help to get their property back.

    You know, if it looks too good to be true, it usually is.

  • @Phil – there is no way you’ll be asked to pay €5,500/annum IPT. The tax rates will be changed before this tax becomes payable later this year.

  • @Kate – You will pay revised IPT from the start of the year during which your house is added to the deed.

  • Phil says:

    It took them 2.6 years to have my property placed on my title deeds and 4 visits. They arrived in the post a few days ago complete and clean. But there is always a but the valuation for 2013 €580,000.00. Never even during the height would my property demand such a fictitious amount. It is clearly over valued for Tax and IPT purposes the later (and before you all jump on the scaremongering path) my IPT for this year if they adopt the requirements of Troika will be approx €5,500.00 per year. Never in a million years unless my fairy godmother arrives can I pay this amount each year, so will have bags packed ready for some free food and bed in Nicosia Jail.

  • Kate says:

    An application to update my title deed was submitted with all the necessary paperwork to the lands office three years ago when our house build was finished. I am still waiting. I did enquire a year or more ago and was told that they could do nothing until the new IPT law was decided. Last year I paid IPT on the title for the land as this was the only title deed I had in my possession (the amount paid was refunded a few months later following the final amendment to IPT). Is IPT backdated to the time my paperwork was submitted or when I am finally presented with my new title deed?

  • Steve says:

    As I see it, this title deeds opportunity is more of an opportunity to introduce the aspirant title deed holder to the facts of life as demonstrated by the Cyprus property market. When it comes to light that the developer owes income taxes, IPT, and/or mortgage principle and interest, the aspriant will be offered the opportunity to pay whatever is owing. That is the real point of the exercise.

  • @Dunn Good – I used to sit on a Planning Committee in the UK and it’s unlikely that plans would be approved if the appearance of the property was not in keeping with others in the area – that would include the colour of the brickwork.

  • Dunn Good says:

    I had a girlfriend once who said that “everything that is yours is mine and everything that I own is mine” sounds like she was a Cypriot developer !!

    Any excuse not to hand over the T/D, if the house had a different coloured brick in the wall it would fail. What a load of Cods Wallop.

  • Stuart says:

    As mentioned in ‘Editor’s Comments’ above, it’s the final “transfer of a property to its rightful owner” that constitutes the ultimate reality check here.

    Without every last piece of documentation in place, any application is automatically set to fail and the system seems purposely designed to guarantee this happens.

    Has anyone reading these columns managed to defeat the system and actually get the unfettered Title Deeds to their purchase issued to them as a result of this change in the law?

  • Pippa says:

    We too had minor changes to the original approved plan, and stupidly (and naively) expected the developer to get the amended plans approved before beginning to build. We eventually had amended plans approved two year ago, we therefore got quite excited when after only a further 12 months the inspectors came to do a ‘final’ inspection assuming they were using the amended approved plans, but no they were using the ORIGINAL outdated plans, and therefore the house failed.

    Where is the sense in this, or is it a jobs worth exercise yet again? No wonder the planning and inspection system is in such a mess.

  • @Mike – We had a ‘private build’. When the house was finished our architect had to submit plans showing the house ‘as built’ and get a new building permit.

    We made a very minor change during the build (a small store in the front retaining wall for rubbish) yet he had to submit ALL the architectural and structural drawings again, not just the one showing the changes.

    The only difference visible to the naked eye was a pair of aluminium doors in the wall.

  • David says:

    Smoke and mirrors !!

  • Mike says:

    This is certainly an announcement designed to fool anyone asking awkward questions. I would doubt very much that any build eventual conforms to the original plans. In the case of private builds by design in order not to receive the certificate of final approval consequently tax can be avoided. (Deeds to the land will be held so why would anyone want to pay more).

    In the case of developer build a total disregard for original plans and permits will prohibit the issue of the certificate. The tiny percentage of builds that do conform are so insignificant as to not warrant mention. I was caught out by the editors second comment and had to pay up so all in all another attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of anyone remotely interested.

  • UBoat says:

    Stalling yet again I see ?

    At a quick glance it seems Good something at last to get the title.

    BUT as the editor correctly said in the 3 points and the last paragraph “are we missing something”? Or what ?

    They have None or very little intention to sort this out in our lifetimes.

    I wonder why ?

  • Robert Briggs says:

    Re; As per the Editors Comments:

    The “Authorities / Powers that be” here in Cyprus, appear to be still trying on their “smoke n mirrors” tricks.
    Still trying to pull the wool over folks eyes, with the extra conditions attached? RB.

  • andyp says:

    You are absolutely right Nigel. It would be far easier but not the Cyprus way. They prefer headline grabbing legislation that in reality either does nothing or very little at best.

    “Catch 22” for most of us I would think.

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