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A thousand trapped buyers apply for deeds

During the nine days since the ‘hidden mortgage’ law came into force around 1,000 ‘trapped buyers’ who have paid for their property but cannot get their Title Deeds have submitted applications.

queueSOME 1,000 applications have been filed in nine days and thousands more were expected from people who paid for their property but did not have title deeds either because it was mortgaged by the developer, or the state could not go ahead with the transfer because of outstanding taxes.

The law aiming to resolve the problem faced by thousands of buyers, foreign and local, was passed on Thursday, September 3, and came into force the next day after its publication in the Government Gazette.

“Around 1,000 applications had been submitted by Thursday, September 17 (nine working days),” Land Registry Director Andreas Socratous said.

Officials expected an increased flow of applications and requests for information, he added.

“Many thousands of people have contacted the department, either through telephone, or email, or they came in person, to ask for information,” he said.

The matter concerns some 78,000 cases of buyers who either do not have a title deed – 48,000 — for various reasons or the property has not been transferred to their name.

The law aims to sort out the mess created by the failure to issue title deeds to people who paid for the property, either because the property was mortgaged by the developer, or the state could not go ahead with the transfer because of outstanding taxes.

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

The law grants the head of the land registry department the authority to exempt, eliminate, transfer and cancel mortgages and or other encumbrances, depending on the case and under certain conditions.

It covers transactions up until December 31, 2014.

To be able to apply, buyers must prove they have either paid the seller in full or only a small amount remained outstanding. Also, the sales contract must have been submitted to the land registry.

Socratous said the procedure of transferring a property and issuing a title would take at least six to seven months in the best of cases, where titles exist and no serious objections would be raised.

Readers' comments

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  • Antony Codd says:

    Worth bearing in mind when making applications – if it is a joint application or group application then each applicant NEEDS TO BE PRESENT when attending the Land Registry Office because each applicant is required to sign the application form in the presence of the ‘Administration Clerk’.

    Signatures’ of applicants not present will only be accepted if their signature has been made in the presence of an authorized ‘notary’ and officially certified by that ‘notary.’

    Also make doubly sure that your receipts for buying the property do add up to the cost of the property you have purchased.

    Any discrepancies without documentary evidence to prove the difference, such as Additional Agreements to the Original Contract, Discounts etc will create problems.

  • Brian says:

    We paid in full in 2007 for our one bed apartment in Cyprus . We did receive a letter from our solicitor a few year back and contacted the developer but got no where and no reply .i don’t think we have paid any tax ?? We pay our bills and our communal fees and everything by direct debit we use our place for holidays .what should we do ?? Do we contact solicitor or developer and how much will this cost ?? I have all the paper work and forms from when we paid and receipts . We would like deeds but not sure who to contact or what too do thanks .

    (Editor’s comment: You lawyer sounds like one of the 99% that give the rest a bad name – I suggest that you dispense with his/her services and engage one that will do a proper job. Here’s a form of words you can use:

    Dear (name of old lawyer)

    Please accept this email as notice of our intention to discharge you as our lawyers henceforth.

    All and any powers of attorney which you hold are revoked. (if applicable)

    We would appreciate your confirmation of receipt of this notification together with written confirmation that your fees have been paid in full.

    Please send our file to;

    Name and address of your new lawyer

    Thank you for your prompt attention

    The British High Commission in Nicosia publishes a list of English speaking lawyers and I’m sure any one of them will do a better job than the present incumbent.

    You can give your new lawyer Power of Attorney to sort all this out for you. I do not know how mush it will cost – you’ll need to ask for a firm quotation. But I’m sure it will be less expensive than flying to Cyprus and sorting it out yourselves.)

  • GrahamWood says:

    Hello Nigel,

    Last week I ventured to the Land Registry Office in Paralimni, after spending over an hour with our Solicitor obtaining copies of our payments, via them to our Developer.

    On entering the LRO we meet some neighbours who had been told that copies of payments were not acceptable, and that they must go back to the Solicitors to obtain the originals. Do you have any thoughts on this matter as the queue to be seen was quite large so we did not wait.

    Regards

    Graham Wood

    (Editor’s comment: I can understand why you need to take original documents, not copies. It would be very easy to forge receipts, etc.

    As I advised KC earlier – As a precaution, I suggest that you make copies of everything in case your file is misplaced.)

  • Steve Kimberley says:

    From what has been reported so far, it has not been entirely clear if the buyer of a property without a “certificate of final approval” (CFA) is eligible to have title deeds issued under this new law, as the CFA has always been a precondition for title deeds. This morning I visited the Nicosia Land Registry to ask specifically about this, and was advised that the CFA is not a precondition under this law, provided the other requirements are met, (ie. paid in full, contract registered with LR, etc)

    (Editor’s comment: That correct. If you read my earlier article Apply for your Title Deeds now there is no mention of the necessity of having a Certificate of Approval.

    And if you read this reply to Gary you will see that I advised him to submit an application even though a certificate of final approval had not been issued.)

  • Deanna says:

    @Nigel, thank you for that link.

    Are the transfer fees based on sale price; ours was bought in 1990 so was in C£. so presumably it would be worked out on the conversion rate that applied when we changed from C£ to € in 2008?

    (Editor’s comment: Property Transfer Fees are calculated on the Land Registry’s assessment of the property’s market value at its date of sale. Conversion rate – one euro is worth 0.585274 Cyprus pounds.)

  • Deanna says:

    Many thanks for the Gov/IPT link.

    I looked there for Transfer Tax but couldn’t see anything.

    How do they work out how much Transfer Tax you are liable for?

    (Editor’s comment: The Property Transfer Fees are not the same as Immovable Property Tax. The Department of Lands and Surveys has an on-line Property Transfer Fees calculator.

    But discounts are available if the transfer takes place on/before 31 December 2016. More information at Reduced property transfer fees (update).)

  • Gail Burton says:

    We have a mortgage on our property, can we still apply for the title deeds? also our contract states we pay the IPT to the developer but even after several requests they have never supplied proof of payment therefore no IPT was paid to the developer since 2007, we have paid directly to tax man last 2 years.

    We do not live in Cyprus do we have to apply in person?

    (Editor’s comment: Yes – you can apply for your Title Deeds even though you have a mortgage on the property. If you cannot be here to submit an application I suggest you contact your lawyer – they should be able to help.)

  • Denise says:

    We brought our property with a mortgage. Does this count as having paid for our property in full and can we apply. Or is it only for people that purchased with cash?

    (Editor’s comment: Yes – you can apply. Any buyer who is ‘trapped’ may apply.)

  • Aggis Demetriou says:

    Socratous says 6/7 months, why so long, serious damage has been done to the property market due to no title available at point of sale, something that I believe the market will never recover for at least 30 years.

    Who an earth will buy a property here? Especially after the haircut!

    Maybe one day they will impose a window tax or any other money thieving scheme.

  • embapaphos says:

    @KC, Well on the one hand they said to me the more info the better, then on the other hand when I told them my payment to developer for property went through currency exchange firm with instructions to pay to developer, they told me keep it to a minimum so as to not confuse ‘them’.

    Highlighing and colour coding the various payments to show the money trail would help them she said when I asked if by doing this it was an issue, they then said when deeds are actually ready I would have to see the auditor with the original docs……unfortunately this is all due to a lack of a formal receipt on payment (don’t go there and ask why)

  • KC says:

    Apart from the “Application ” and proof of payment can someone please tell me what other documents I should take to the Land Registry. Thank you

    (Editor’s comment: Unfortunately the Interior Ministry has yet to publish a statement. I suggest that you take your Contract of Sale, your Passport – and €10; the fee for lodging the application.

    Note that the ‘Registered Contract of Sale No’ in section ‘Α-2 CONTRACT OF SALE’ is the number on the deposit slip issued by the Land Registry when your contract of sale was deposited.

    As a precaution, I suggest that you make copies of everything in case your file is misplaced.)

  • Deanna says:

    Is there anywhere I can look-up the rate of IPT payable in 1990 onwards?

    (Editors comment: You may find the rates and bands for 1980 onwards at Immovable Property Tax Rates.)

  • Viennese says:

    In my case I had paid the IPT since the purchase of my property in 1981 in Pafos but the authorities were unable to provide me the Title deed, as lack of a file!!!

    Finally with the assistance of good local friends the missing documents have been found!!!

    Only because Cyprus became a member of EU the Government had to start to clear the rotten situation, and the practices of how things in general are handled in Cyprus.

    What filthy beautiful Island.

  • Anna says:

    Hi Nigel, we took about 50% bank loan to finance the purchase of our apartment back in 2008, the other 50% was paid in cash. Do we have to wait until our loan is paid off before applying for Title Deeds or can we apply now? Thanks, Anna

    (Editor’s comment: You don’t have to wait until you’ve repaid your loan – you can apply now.)

  • Elena Antoniades says:

    We have been waiting for Kanika Developers regarding our deeds for the last 12 years but last week we had another disappointed when they gave us a bill for over 5000.00 Euros stating that we owe them sewage which we accept Minic. Property tax which we accept but according to them we owe them Immovable property tax from 2004 which we don’t accept. They have been a total nightmare and I wish to god I never bought a house in Cyprus and on top of that we have to pay the transfer fee which we expect it. Is been hell.

    (Editor’s comment: You need to check your Contract of Sale to see if you are required to pay Immovable Property Tax to your developer. If you are liable, which most people are, you need to ensure that they provide you with records of the amount paid as Immovable Property Tax (IPT) and a certificate showing the rate of IPT applicable to the property as this will enable you to claim for any overpayments you may have made. Please refer to this letter from the Interior Ministry.

    AS you bought in 2004 I expect that you did not pay VAT? If so your Property Transfer Fees will be reduced by 50%.)

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