SOME 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.