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Hidden mortgage breakthrough

Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos has announced that the government intends to introduce legislation to resolve the ‘hidden mortgage’ problem that leaves thousands of buyers unable to get Title Deeds.

Hidden mortgage breakthroughBEFORE parliament breaks for the summer break, the government intends to bring new legislation addressing the problem of thousands of home buyers trapped without Title Deeds, Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said on Thursday, calling on banks to assume their responsibility.

“Very soon, we will submit the bill, which will really cover these cases, to parliament,” he told reporters.

“The bill will be much improved…and truly safeguard those who paid for their homes in full or who have been consistent in regard to their obligations to the seller, but still cannot get the title to the property.”

The legislation would go beyond just ensuring that those without Title Deeds – because of developers’ outstanding debts to banks – are protected from repossession.

“We will take it a step further, so that these people can take possession of the title and be able to put it up for mortgage,” Hasikos said.

“What is now taken for granted is that the banks must finally take responsibility for their actions. When they were giving out loans to developers or contractors to build an apartment block, they ought to have checked that this money was being used for that specific project and not for something else.”

“The buyers,” he added, “are not at all responsible and they must be protected.”

Although Hasikos declined to go into details, responding to a question he said that under the new legislation the buyers would not “necessarily” have to pay extra to receive Title Deeds.

Developers’ land and buildings are counted as assets that need to be offset against their debt to banks, which gives lenders a claim on people’s properties that had been mortgaged by developers.

Tens of thousands have been left without deeds as a result.

Under the terms of its bailout, Cyprus has set up a task force “on registered, but untitled, land sales contracts” that must prepare a study by the end of May. This should have been done by October last year.

Speaking to the Mail on condition of anonymity, a government source on Thursday hinted that authorities may have already completed their cost assessment of this category of mortgages.

Asked what kind of hit lenders might take from the coming bill, the source said only: “The Central Bank doesn’t have a problem with it.”

To Cyprus’ international creditors, banks’ non-performing loans, as well as their ability to recoup these, posed the single largest financial challenge facing the economy.

Loans in the red currently account for around half of all bank credit.

In March, parliament passed a bill indefinitely banning repossession of houses whose owners have no Title Deeds, even though they may have paid for them in full, as the building developers had already taken out loans on those properties which they cannot repay.

MPs basically changed a clause in the main foreclosures law that exempted this category of properties from repossession until April 30.

According to the provision, such properties will be exempted provided the buyers paid at least 80 per cent of the sale price or have fully complied with their contractual obligations towards the seller.

But the President refused to sign the bill into law and sent it back to parliament, arguing that it was unconstitutional and created ‘a general and permanent shield’, not for vulnerable groups, but a number of sellers and land developers.

Parliament accepted the president’s argument and changed ‘indefinite’ to ‘July 10.’

Readers' comments

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  • @Maria. Gillespie on 2015/05/29 at 2:42 am – I don’t know what a CTO licence has to do with hidden mortgages? Are you saying you need one before the bank will grant you a mortgage?

  • Maria. Gillespie says:

    Hi nigel we are about to pay a lot of money towards dealing with this license and hopefully getting it put in place ???

    Regards
    Maria

  • @Maria gillespie on 2015/05/27 at 3:47 am – What CTO licence?

  • Maria gillespie says:

    Hi Nigel

    Just wanted to know have you heard anything about the CTO licence will it be resolved soon .

    Regards

    Maria Gillespie

  • @Jane on 2015/05/25 at 12:29 pm – Your developer doesn’t need to get any licences from the Land Registry? You’ll need to check what exactly the problem is and ask your question on my Property Forum.

  • Jane says:

    Hi Nigel can you advise me please, my property is paid for in full and sits on a large project of numerous villas, as we understand it finally after nearly 10 years of waiting the Title Deeds process was started early last year, however it appears we’re now at stalemate as the Developer is heavily in debt and cant afford to pay the estimated €12,000+ for the LICENSE FEES at Land Registry office for the next stage process to move forward, where does this leave us as we simply cant move forward until these licenses are paid for and fear the whole application will simply go to the back of the pile!

    Were told there is no developers mortgage on the land (but can we believe this)? however we do know he is in huge debt for o/s property taxes & vat so where does this leave us? As we understand it he also has other projects that are mortgaged.

    Its about time this bloody inefficient government got off their backsides to sort this nightmare out instead of just talking about it, that way we could all sell up and head back to good old Blightly, at least when you buy a house in UK you have your Title Deeds on Day 1!

  • Aggis Demetriou says:

    The system here has crashed many many years ago, Hasikos is out of his depth If he really wanted every property to have title he would had instructed the lands offices to issue titles within weeks.

    Any Developers loans or illigal building works blame falls on Banks and building control/planning dept.

    Every sales contact lodged at the land registry should be issued a title within a few days, the land registry should be there to issue titles not measuring land etc.

    At the end of the day, we are all to blame buying property without titles.

    As a rule if no one bought a property without title the government will make sure final approvals/titles would be available at point of sale.

  • demetri says:

    Hasikos, hmm when asked by caller to a tv show hosted by RIK if the govt is finally going to do anything on the lines of NO DEEDS NO SALE, he answered nobody out there today is going to pay for a property if the property does not have deeds”….this was his answer….pants if you ask me, whereas most if not all the issues reported on Nigel’s site would not exist if the case in Cyprus was at time of purchase or exchange of contracts etc deeds are exchanged…..

  • UBoat says:

    This is somewhat a small glimmer of hope.

    But I’m afraid to say why should any of us who have paid our bills, Housing loans, fees etc. etc. now possible pay of part of the developers loans just to receive our title deeds which we where all promised 2-3 years after we brought in the first place.

    Sorry I don’t accept it…….

    It’s like my neighbour borrowing money and not paying it all back knowing full well he will not be made to. As the law is changed as it suits to make me pay back part of his loan for his greed and stupidity….. It just dose NOT happen. So neither should this. End of story.

    No matter how much talk and adjustment of laws to enable this to be done at a legal level to cover up Developers, Banks, Solicitors and the government officials who have ALL taken a big slice of the pie. and don’t want to give it back……

    No way am I, for one, paying any amount of a Developers loan just to receive my title deeds, when the developer has lied cheated and manipulated the laws to build extra properties on the site and not complete the roads or the drained correctly.No amount of complaining to any authority has even come close to making him do any of it.

    Its disgusting they are allowed to continue to do this and with the backing of the EU ….. The new old Boys club …..

  • chris says:

    Sorry to say but it is normai Cyprus political spin that will never happen. Tomorrow is another day in the island of make believe.

  • Stnicolas says:

    Ok! But when are they going to do something about all the mis-sold chf mortgages

  • Mike says:

    @Andrew – if treasury coffers are buoyant probably a few euro’s admin fee, if they are empty and the developer, banking and MP NPL holder friends lobby then possibly all the outstanding debts from every quarter. If an MP can get some other idiot to pay off all his or her guarantees and direct loans then guess which way they will vote. Words come cheap, let’s see what the outcome is and judge on that. Nice work if you can get it!

  • scruffy says:

    @andrew.

    I think he’s referring to a share of the developers outstanding loan. Which is what the banks always hinted at, It sounds very promising.

    In particular his conclusion that the buyers are in no way to blame and that the banks must take responsibility for their negligent lending. It is important too that the actual cost to the bank is already known and the central bank “has no problem with it”.

  • Andrew says:

    “Although Hasikos declined to go into details, responding to a question he said that under the new legislation the buyers would not “necessarily” have to pay extra to receive Title Deeds.”

    This appears to be very good news apart from the usual sting in the tail above. What extra payments are they thinking about. A few Euro admin fee, or a few hundred thousand?

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