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Applying for Title Deeds (update 17 May)

Following the many emails I’ve received this article explains how buyers may apply for the Title Deeds to the property they purchased under the provisions of the ‘hidden mortgage’/’trapped buyers’ law.

Applying for Title Deeds in CyprusSINCE publishing details of the ‘trapped buyers’/’hidden mortgages’ law ((Immovable Property Transfer and Mortgage Law (Amendment) (No. 10) Law of 2015) in the article ‘Apply for your Title Deeds now‘, I have been inundated with questions and requests for further information.

This article endeavours to respond to those requests and questions.

I am grateful to Irene Anastasiou and Charalambos Charalambous of the Department of Lands and Surveys Head Office for their time in explaining the provisions of the ‘trapped buyers’ law and the processes involved to me at our recent meeting in Nicosia.

Objective of the ‘Trapped Buyers’ law

The objective of the law is to a transfer property to its purchaser(s) who, although they have fulfilled their contractual obligations to the vendor, are unable to obtain its Title Deed. Typically this occurs when a developer has mortgaged the land on which he is building or a memo or any other encumbrance has been registered on the property, which is the object of the contract of sale, and the developer is unable or unwilling to repay this mortgage and any other debts.

Who can apply for Title Deeds?

Any buyer who has yet receive the Title Deed to the property they purchased may apply for its Title Deed regardless of whether its Title Deed has been issued; the fact that there may be mortgage etc. preventing its transfer is immaterial. In cases where the title deed has yet to be issued, the applicant has the right to apply to the Department of Lands and Surveys for the compulsory acquisition of title according to the provisions of Part VI of the Immovable Property (Tenure, Registration and Valuation) Law, Cap. 224.

In addition to any buyer, the following are entitled to apply:

  • The vendor of the property. This could be a private individual or a company – typically a property development company.
  • The mortgagee under the mortgage contract deposited at the Land Registry.
  • The lender who granted the loan to the buyer to purchase the property.
  • The buyer who purchased the property via an assignment/vesting contract deposited at the Land Registry.
  • The Director of the Department of Lands and Surveys ex officio.

(As a consequence, buyers who have been ‘reluctant’ in the past to obtain Title Deeds to the property they purchased may now find they have no option. Furthermore, if they fail to pay the Property Transfer Fees on receiving a notice from the District Land Office (DLO) to do so, an encumbrance will be lodged against the property corresponding to the amount of the transfer fees increased by fifty percent.)

Application pre-requisites

The only prerequisite for filing an application is that a Contract of Sale or a vesting/assignment contact to purchase the property must have been deposited at the DLO in which the property is situated by 31st December 2014.

In cases where a contract has not been deposited or unknowingly removed from the Land Registry, the applicant must apply for a Court Order. Once the order has been issued the contract may be deposited at the relevant DLO.

The law only concerns itself with contracts that have been deposited at a DLO. In cases where a dispute has arisen between a purchaser and a vendor concerning (say) the supply and payment of ‘extras’ that were not included in the Contract of Sale, unless a contract for those ‘extras’ had been prepared, agreed and deposited at the DLO the dispute will not prevent the transfer of a property’s Title Deed to its purchaser.

Filing an application

Completed Title Deed Applications Forms (in Greek or English) may be filed at any DLO in the Republic regardless at which DLO their Contract of Sale was deposited.

The price for filing an application is €10, which has to be paid to the Land Registry when the application is filed.

The applicant(s) need to complete the Application Form. Note that the ‘Registered Contract of Sale’ referred to in A-2 of the Form is the number written on the receipt issued by the DLO when the Contract of Sale was deposited. This number takes the form ΠΩΕ: xxxxxx/yyyy.

Where the applicant is unable to find/obtain the DLO receipt number, they should attach a copy of their Contract of Sale to their application.

Non-Cypriots should enter their passport number in section A in the ‘I.D. no.’ box and take their passport when they visit the DLO to file their application.

The address on the form is the applicant’s correspondence address (which may not be the same as the address of the actual property.) In addition it is highly recommended that the applicant includes their email address on the form so that the DLO may contact them quickly when necessary.

Note that in cases where a property has been purchased in joint names it is not necessary for both buyers to submit an application, provided that the applicant can prove that the full payment of the purchase price and taxes have been made.

Supporting evidence

It is vital that the applicant buyer submits as many documents/as much evidence as possible to support their application. I.e. payment of the purchase price, the existence of a Title Deed for the property and fulfilment of all contractual obligations to the vendor (taxes etc.)

Applicant has not paid the full purchase price

If the applicant buyer declares that they have not fully paid the purchase price they will be required to pay the balance into a special temporary account in the name of the Director of the Department of Lands and Surveys.

This money will not be paid to the vendor until the Title Deed for the property has been issued and registered in the name of the purchaser.

Applicant has paid the full purchase price

If the applicant buyer declares that they have paid the full purchase price, they need to provide evidence, such as:

  • Original receipts or photocopies of receipts showing the property has been paid for in full. If the vendor is a company, including a land development company, these receipts must bear: the company logo, the amount paid, the signature of the company representative and the company stamp.
  • Proof that the money for purchasing the property was deposited in a financial institution (e.g. a bank), showing that the deposit was paid in cash or cheque – or details of the transactions confirming the transfer of payments from the purchasers account to the sellers account.
  • A signed certificate from the vendor or the financial institution confirming that the full payment of the purchase price has been made or that the buyer has fulfilled his contractual obligations.

In situations where the purchaser encounters difficulties obtaining evidence confirming they have paid in full, they may swear an affidavit at court and include this with their application. (A lawyer is not required.)

However, this affidavit will not be considered as adequate evidence and the purchaser must strive to obtain further evidence, as outlined above, to support their application.

Existence of Title Deed

Wherever possible, the applicant should check whether a Title Deed exists for the property in question. This can be achieved by checking the DLS database by following the guide in my article ‘Cyprus property valuations now online‘.

If the applicant is unable to find details of their property they should apply to the DLO for the Compulsory Acquisition of Title, taking the completed form with them when they file their application.

Payment of other financial obligations

The applicant buyer needs to provide evidence that he has fulfilled other financial obligations set out in their Contract of Sale, such as the payment of property-related taxes where applicable.

Applicants should examine their Contract of Sale. The vast majority of the many contracts that the author has seen contain a clause similar to the following:

“As from the day the Purchasers are in possession of the property, they undertake to be responsible for and to pay all the Government, municipal and local authorities’ taxes, levies, duties or charges (if any) raised on or in connection with the possession of the Property hereby sold.”

If the applicant buyer’s Contract of Sale contains this or a similar clause, they need to provide evidence that they have paid these property-related taxes and charges and will need to obtain statements from the Tax department (Immovable Property Tax), the Sewerage Board, the Municipality or Community (local property taxes) in which the property is situated as appropriate confirming that they have paid their obligations.

However, in some cases this will prove ‘difficult’ as many property development companies do not bill their customers until the property’s Title Deed is available for transfer. Furthermore (as regular reads will know) a number of ‘well known’ property development companies owe the government millions of Euros in unpaid taxes.

Applicant buyers unable to obtain statements from the various authorities confirming that they have paid these property-related taxes may still file their applications at the DLO.

If, during its examination of their Title Deed application, the DLO finds that their tax obligations have not been paid, it will serve a notice to the applicant to pay their taxes to the competent authorities and produce the necessary evidence to the DLO. Once the applicant has paid their obligations, the competent authorities, will issue the necessary statements.

If the applicant buyer can prove that they are not liable to pay these property-related taxes they will be considered to have fulfilled their contractual obligation. If their Contract of Sale contains no clauses making them responsible for paying these property-related taxes of if it contains a clause along the following lines:

“All land taxes and dues including immovable property tax arising before the delivery and transfer of the property will be paid by the Vendor.”

they can be confident that they have no contractual obligation to pay these property-related taxes.

(UPDATE. Note that although applicant buyers may have no contractual obligation to pay property-related taxes, they have a legal obligation to pay Immovable Property Tax directly to the Tax Department for years 2014 onwards. Refer to Paying Immovable Property Tax 2014 for further information.)

DLO investigation/examination of the application

Once the DLO has accepted the Title Deed application, they will start their investigation into the case. The DLO will check the three basic conditions that must be satisfied before the transfer of the Title Deed in the name of the buyer can take place:

Has the buyer paid the full purchase price?

During its investigation the DLO may request information from any interested party to produce evidence that the full purchase price has been paid.

If, after examining the evidence it transpires that the full purchase price of the property has not been paid, the application will be put on hold until such time as the balance of the purchase price has been paid into a special temporary account in the name of the Director of the Department of Lands and Surveys.

Does a Title Deed exist for the property?

If a Title Deed for the property in question has not been issued, the applicant may apply to the DLO for the Compulsory Acquisition of Title.

The application will be put on hold until such time as the property’s Title Deed has been issued.

There are many reasons why a Title Deed has not been issued. It could simply be a case that the DLO has not received the necessary paperwork from the District Office, there may be planning infringements that need to be corrected, parts of the development may not have been completed, the property could encroach on someone else’s land, etc.

In some cases the vendor (developer) may be unwilling or unable to fund the work required that will enable the District Office to issue Certificates of Final Approval. In such cases the only option available to the affected buyers is to pool their resources and pay for the necessary work – and then sue the vendor (developer) once the Title Deeds have been transferred to them to recover their costs.

Concession/Antiparochi (αντιπαροχή) agreements must be completed before Title Deeds can be transferred to buyers who purchased property built on the landowner’s land.

(Concession Agreement/Antiparochi is an agreement between a landowner and a developer in which the former provides land to the latter in exchange for a certain number of dwellings from those being constructed.)

In extreme cases it may prove impossible for the DLO to proceed with the transfer of the Title Deeds. In these situations the DLO will refund money received from buyers who have not paid for their property in full that it holds in a special account.

Has the buyer fulfilled their contractual obligations to pay taxes?

If, during its examination of their application, the DLO finds that the buyer’s tax obligations have not been paid, will serve a notice to the applicant to pay their taxes to the competent authorities and produce the necessary evidence to the DLO. The competent authorities, will issue the necessary statements once the applicant has paid their obligations.

The buyer’s tax obligations will be calculated at the rate applicable to the buyer, not at the higher rate applicable to a developer. E.g. Currently owners of property whose 1980 value exceeds €3 million, such as the larger property development companies, pay Immovable Property Tax at the rate of 1.9%, while the 1980 value of a property purchased by a typical buyer would be no more than €60,000 and would be taxed at a rate of 0.8%; a significant saving. (Immovable Property Tax rates for the years since 1980 may be found on the Tax Department website.) Buyers are advised to attend the competent tax authorities for the calculation and payment of their taxes.

Once the DLO is in possession of these statements, it will start the transfer process.

Transfer of Title Deed to buyer

Once the following three provisions of the law have been satisfied:

  • The property’s purchase price has been paid in full
  • A Title Deed for the property exists.
  • The property buyer has fulfilled their contractual obligations regarding the payment of taxes.

The DLS will send interested parties a notice advising them that it intends to transfer the property to the purchaser and requesting any objections they may have, giving them 45 days to respond.

Interested parties are those who have registered ‘encumbrances’ (claims) against the property in question who have the opportunity to object to the transfer and/or request the transfer of their encumbrance within the 45 day period.

Note that the vendor (developer) may only object if:

  • The buyer has not fulfilled his contractual obligations.
  • The contract is void.

The DLS will investigate any objections it receives and will advise interested parties of its decision once its investigation has been completed.

Once investigations have been completed, the DLS will send a notice to the buyer and and a notice to the vendor requesting them to transfer the property to the buyer with 60 days of the notice being issued – and requesting the buyer to pay the Property Transfer Fees within the 60 day notice period.

Within the 60 day notice period the buyer may attend the DLO without the vendor being present and pay the Property Transfer Fees. The buyer may opt to pay the full amount, in which case their transfer fees will be reduced by 10%, or opt to pay the transfer fees in 12 equal monthly instalments.

If the buyer fails to pay the Property Transfer Fees, the transfer will still go ahead. However, an encumbrance will be lodged against the property corresponding to the amount of the transfer fees increased by fifty percent.

(If the transfer takes place by 31st December 2016, a further 50% reduction in transfer fees will be applied if the purchaser did not pay VAT on the property’s purchase price – or a 100% reduction if the purchaser did pay VAT on the purchase price.)

Non-resident purchasers

Non-residents of Cyprus who are unable to submit their Title Deed applications in person have 2 options:

  1. They may appoint a representative in Cyprus to handle matters on their behalf.
  1. They may send the applications by post (not email) to any DLO together with a cheque for the application fee of €10 made payable to the Director of the Department of Lands and Surveys and attach copies of all evidence in relation to the full payment of the purchase price and taxes

Note that original documents must not be sent in the post. Non-residents should make an appointment with a Cyprus Government office in their country of residence to arrange certified copies to be made of all the documents and supporting evidence they plan to send. Their application must include their full contact address and their email address.

You may download this article in pdf format by clicking here.

Update 17 May 2016

Department of Lands & Surveys information bulletin – Transfer of property in the name of the «enclaved buyer».

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • bernadette hendry says:

    Thank you very much for all the information . Please can you help me. My son has apartment and mortgage with Alpha Bank. He is resident in UK. What does he need from Alpha Bank? I have his sale agreement, proof of all IPT paid to developer and he has registered with tax office. I understand he can only deal with bank but I shall see him in 7wk so would appreciate your help.

    Your emails are of great help to me and I thank you.

  • scruffy says:

    Thank you Nigel. Can you tell me where the Planning Authority Dept is for Larnaca District. We are in Xylophagou.

    (Ed: You can find contact details for the Larnaca Town Planning Department by clicking here.)

  • Scruffy says:

    Nigel,In an earlier comment you said that if no deeds exist “the LR prepares a file for the Municipality to sign off and issue a Completion Cert.

    Do you know if the Municipality can sign off individual phases of a project. ie, we are on a complex that was built in 3 phases. Our phase was completed including road etc, and has no obvious planning issues. Is it possible to check with the municipality on any progress and if so where do you go to exactly. (Xylophagou)

    (Ed: I cannot say for any particular development what the Municipalities can sign off. It depends on the planning permissions and permits that were issued – some may include the roads, etc. as part of the plans submitted for a development – others may not. You’ll need to check with the planning authority.)

  • embapaphos says:

    Thanks again Nigel, well the 45 day notice period hasn’t expired just yet, letter to bank & developer were sent out via registered post on the 20th April ..will chase land reg up soon

  • embapaphos says:

    Thanks again,sorry to hog the forum but that settles that I am 100% certain that developer will not be showing up to furnish the required docs within the 60 period… as he is not even showing up now that I have informed him the deeds are ready (and even though as stated in my sales agreement he MUST transfer to me as a buyer once deeds ready) there is no chance he will be appearing later in response to the letters….

    Looks like the 60 day wait once I am informed is a must.

    (Ed: One of the key aims of the law is that you can apply for your Title Deeds without any communication with the developer. The 45 day window of opportunity he had to object to you getting the Title Deeds has now lapsed – there’s nothing he can do.)

  • embapaphos says:

    thanks Nigel for prompt response, makes sense, I guess getting to the stage where one receives the 60 days notice letter & payment of the transfer fees takes place then there is no going back so to speak….the buyer will get his/her deeds…

    I will raise it with the land reg as to why the transfer cannot take effect from the date the buyers pays the transfer fees? after all the 60 days notice period (letter) will make no mention of anyone being able to make an appeal objection etc against the transfer at this point, so these 60 days may just be a way for developer or buyer to be able to get affairs in order and pay the fee without the burden of a later penalty if they fail to pay.

    (Ed: I had a call from a friend this morning – he visited the Limassol LR at 8:30 and collected his deeds. His developer apparently signed a waiver (I don’t know the details) and he was able to get his deeds within the 60 days.

    If you look at the LRs letter to the developer he has to submit all the documents necessary for the transfer to take place.

    And if you look at the LRs letter to the purchaser it says “For the purpose of transferring the property in your name you are invited, within sixty (60) days of receipt of this letter, to proceed with paying the transfer fees to the Director in accordance with the provisions of section 44KG of the Immovable Property Transfer and Mortgage Law and the Land and Surveys Department (Fees and Duties) Law.”)

  • embapaphos says:

    Nigel good to see the latest update on the topic, do you by any chance have the pdf in greek format?.

    IF and when I get the letter to go pay transfer fees and collect deeds within the 60days as per law would like to show the greek version to the land reg. in the English version you provided it explicitly says; buyer is informed of his right to proceed with payment of transfer fees within 60 day deadline for transfer of title, regardless of sellers consent.

    BUT Land registry said to me this so called ‘forced’ transfer is only actioned after the 60 day deadline has passed….so I want them to see it in black and white in Greek that this is not the case.

    (Ed: I don’t have the article in Greek. Although you can pay the Property Transfer Fees within the 60 days, the transfer will not be effected until after the 60 days have passed.)

  • Abraham Gerges says:

    Hi Nigel,

    Does the government have any time frame for resolving this issue? we have submitted our application as soon as the law passed and never heard from the DLO! Is this normal?

    In this European country, there is no tracking system to follow up the case and worse there is no communication whatsoever from DLO. How would a buyer know the status of his case?

    It is awful to feel trapped!!!!

    (Ed: It’s a matter of being patient – people are receiving their deeds. Much depends on whether a Title Deed has been issued. If it hasn’t been issued the LR prepares a file for the Municipality to sign off and issue a Certificate of Approval. There can be delays if there are planning issues or the development is incomplete.)

  • John Frixou says:

    Dear Nigel

    Firstly I’d like to congratulate you for your informative and well written articles on the website.

    I read the above article and your recent update but unfortunately I still cannot see how & whether the new legislation can help the position I and my neighbours find ourselves in. In summary:

    1. There are no title deeds in existence due to the Developer not submitting the necessary paperwork to the Municipality Authorities and carrying out the necessary outstanding works to enable the Municipality to issue the compliance certificate.

    2. I have applied for compulsory registration which was granted and the Land Registry has written to the Municipality telling them about the compulsory registration and requesting the necessary documents to proceed accordingly.

    3. The Municipality, Land Registry and Town Planning then had a meeting and they decided what the Developer will need to do before the compliance certificate is given – I have seen the letter the Municipality has sent to the Developer.

    4. Unfortunately the Developer is dragging his feet, making unreasonable demands to the flat owners and I suspect this is due to his finances.

    What I have not been able to establish either from the Authorities directly or by reading their literature is whether, under these circumstances, the new Legislation can force the Developer to carry out what he has to do so that the Compliance Certificate is issued by the Municipality and so that the Land Registry can proceed with the issuing of the titles deeds. I wonder if you have come across this situation and have an answer to it?

    Many thanks.

    (Ed: I believe that in circumstances where the developer refuses to complete the work is for the purchasers to pool funds and pay for the work themselves (don’t pay the developer – get a contractor to do the work). You can then sue the developer to recover the cost. I know this is not what you wanted to hear, but I can see no other way around the problem.

    Similar situations have arisen where development companies have gone into receivership. Purchasers have shared the cost of completing the works, etc.)

  • embapaphos says:

    @Robert, well done sir

  • Robert Tarr says:

    Thank you Nigel for your advice over the past few years it has been very welcoming. The new system at the Land Registry does work. We started the ball rolling in Sept, and today we eventually completed the transfer without a hitch. We are now the proud owners of property in Apeshia, Limassol – official!!!
    Thanks again Nigel.

    (ED: You’re welcome Robert. Pleased to hear you’ve got your deeds at long last.)

  • embapaphos says:

    Nigel just curious, what does the land reg do if the developer for example simply fails to go pick up the letter sent to him by land reg giving him 45 days notice to respond to request for an objection or not of transfer to buyer or transfer of mortgage encumbrance?, land registry mentioned letter will be sent via registered mail, but what if the developer is just no show? ? does the process continue to the next step whereby 60 days notice is given to developer to turn up and effect transfer to buyer?

    (Ed: The answer is in the article: “Within the 60 day notice period the buyer may attend the DLO without the vendor being present and pay the Property Transfer Fees. The buyer may opt to pay the full amount, in which case their transfer fees will be reduced by 10%, or opt to pay the transfer fees in 12 equal monthly instalments.”)

  • embapaphos says:

    just a note to all those ‘waiting’ via the trapped buyers law, chase the land registry up as often as possible, pester them (I was told this by someone who works in the land registry itself!). After a letter I received from them I paid up promptly IPT sewerage and communal fees (rightly or wrongly) for my (still developers) newly created deed, thinking the sooner I do this the sooner my case moves on and the sooner I get a result.

    I paid up on the 8th of April and it transpires that after nearly 2 weeks and numerous calls they can’t tell me yet whether or not the notice of transfer letter has been sent to developer/bank…..”call back Monday” they tell me, I appreciate the land registries have work to do, but on the other hand we all know that the fact the market is so slow means they have no excuse, plus as far as I can see all land reg. needs to write on the letter to bank and developer is my sales agreement number and the address of the bank/developer to whom the letter will be addressed to…..

  • embapaphos says:

    @Tim and Nigel, heard of many cases whereby legitimate developers have got title deeds issued for the properties they have built and sold, but buyers are failing for whatever reason to turn up to collect. I guess that the trapped buyer law would help such developers too? forcing the buyers to turn up and accept/pay for transfer or else face the consequences mentioned in your articles?

    (Ed: Yes – developers can also apply for Title Deeds. I expect some people will start whinging when they receive a notice from the DLO.)

  • Tim Weaver says:

    Nigel, sorry to bother you, but I am enquiring on behalf of a Cypriot company with a Cypriot Director and mainly UK shareholders. My questions are:

    1. Does the fast track to get title deeds apply when it is a company that owns the property (a Villa)?

    2. If so who would need to make the application – presumably the Director?

    3. Would the company still get a 50% discount on the transfer fees if the title deed is issued before the end of 2016?

    (Ed: No problem – I try to help when ever I can. I didn’t ask the DLS about companies applying for Title Deeds – only natural persons. But I cannot see why a company that purchased a property cannot apply for its Title Deeds.

    The law refers to a ‘purchaser’ but does not qualify by saying ‘natural person’ or ‘legal person’.

    I don’t know what’s involved and I suggest you ask your Cypriot director to enquire at the DLO.)

  • embapaphos says:

    SORRY to be hogging this comment panel Nigel, and @Jill , I totally feel for your plight, this was the reaction I was getting a while back from authorities when trying to track what was going in with the attaining deeds process….”you left it for so long etc etc why are you chasing now?” this was besides the point, point was developer was awol taxes unpaid deeds not ready, updates by him were few and far between, and then he totally vanished.

    That’s neither here nor there now, key thing is trapped buyers can move forward I believe, but by god would it have been helpful if the right hand knew what the left was doing! The authorities should have a simple flow chart dished out to the authorities dealing with trapped buyers request be it tax,sewerage or the local councils, so there is consensus on the process.

    Agree 100% with Nigel don’t go visiting any of the aforementioned places until you have a notice to do so by the land reg. then double-check that in your contractual obligation with seller it is your obligation to do so (i.e. pay the taxes from delivery date of your property) ..don’t do what I did turned up at land reg trapped buyers section when called, who gave me the letter and I blindly went and paid taxes etc where via this law I was not obliged to..the land reg Pafos should have really as part of processing my application read my miniscule sales agreement and seen I was not liable for these, and hence not sent me round the houses paying up. I am not going to fret over the monetary side of this rather the principle, one govt. dept didn’t do its job correctly meaning in turn I was charged by another govt. fees I had no reason to pay-and the answer to that sorry it can’t be refunded as the fees you paid have been lodged against the developers obligations and are tied in to his company tax id code!

    Wish everyone good luck here

  • Jill says:

    Hi Nigel,

    I have to agree with the other people who have commented here. It is good you’ve had the meeting with Irene Anastasiou and Charalambos Charalambous, and all of us owe you a huge thank you for all your work on our behalf.

    HOWEVER, the info you have given us really does need to be passed to the appropriate local authorities – it seems to me they haven’t a clue as to what’s going on. We have, as you suggested, been to the Tax Office to ask how much IPT we owe for the years preceding 2014 and, still they insist we have to go to the developer to ask this question. (A developer who is on the list of those never having paid IPT on our behalf). And the Council’s answer to our asking when the developer will complete our site is ‘it’s your own fault, you should have been chasing him up – the Council have done all they can!!!!’ Well, if the Council can’t make him, how do they expect us to? As for going to the courts, after paying to complete the site, do they really expect us to believe we’ll get our money back?

    Sorry, Nigel, you must be sick of our constant moans, but really, it’s just one frustration after another….

    (Ed comment: Thank you for your comments Jill, they are much appreciated.

    If you have submitted your Title Deed application, I suggest you do nothing until you hear from the DLO.

    If you do owe any tax the DLO will send you notices that you should take to the competent authorities (i.e. the Tax Department, Sewerage Board and Municipal/Community Office.) The authorities will assess how much you should pay – and once you’ve paid they will issue you with a receipt that you can take to the DLO. The DLO will accept these receipts as proof that you’ve fulfilled your contractual obligations to pay tax.

    You should not approach the Tax Department, etc. until you have received the notices.)

  • embapaphos says:

    Firstly Nigel I wish you a speedy recovery, secondly I have emailed as per request of the Pafos land reg, my query to Mr. Charalambous dept. to tell me how those who proceed through the trapped buyers law can get a refund or credit if they have been asked by the land reg. to pay up the IPT, Sewerage, communal fees even though the sales agreement does not stipulate them as having to do so.

    I appreciate that the majority of buyers will have specified in their sales agreement a clause that clarifies who is responsible for what, but for the minority that don’t I will post a reply as soon as I get one on Monday I was told.

    I appreciate the land reg can’t give refunds per say but being a govt dept they must be able to issue some sort of note stating I was wrongly requested to pay IPT that I will furnish at the tax office…

    The more I think about it logically speaking (and this was the Pafos land reg argument), any upstanding person who has purchased a property and has such a contract would pay taxes for refuse collection etc after they take ownership….. why would someone else have to pay for your property taxes was the argument. Either way will wait and see.

  • embapaphos says:

    Super Nigel…to the point, in the meantime I will today try to get an answer IF a refund (unlikely) is possible or credit can be given in cases whereby a buyer has in error paid all the taxes stipulated on the letter the land registry gives out.

    After the many calls I made yesterday I think only one person said that perhaps at transfer time the ‘extra’ sums you paid in error can be deducted from the transfer fees that will be due. How this will work with the sewerage board, and community council I do not know?, but regarding the IPT am pretty confident that the same hand that took away can give back so to speak, the same way the tax office credits you if you have overpaid income tax etc… Nigel I will pm if you like with my phone details, you can pass these to this Nicosia chap if he wants to call me we can co-ordinate our effort for answers?

    (Ed: I’ll email Ms Anastasiou explaining the problem – it’s likely that some of the staff in the Land Registry’s haven’t quite grasped what is needed. I don’t have any phone numbers and I’m currently in the UK receiving medical treatment but I will be back in Cyprus later this month.

    The payments are made to different authorities and I think it unlikely that you’d be able to recover sewerage tax, etc. from the Land Registry.)

    Finally

    To clarify I wasn’t fined for the 2013 payment that I was asked to pay…but was fined for 2014 which I actually made the payment for late last year, for 2015 the IPT was up to date, but land reg suggested I pay for 2016 early either way as come transfer time I would have to pay it anyway! come transfer time if the developer is a no show then I would not have had to pay any of these is what we are saying. OK thanks again

    (Ed: Yes you would have to pay the IPT due for 2016 before getting the deeds and although the bands and rates have yet to be set, this years IPT will be roughly the same as last – but some will pay a little more, others will pay a little less. The Tax Department has opened a file for those who paid IPT without deeds and any corrections will be made once the deeds have been issued & transferred.)

  • Grant says:

    A very interesting article. However, what happens to people whose Contract of Sale or a vesting/assignment contract to purchase the property was deposited at the DLO in which the property is situated after 31 December 2014? Has Cypriot law changed since this date, thereby avoiding all these types of past title deed problems? Thanks for any clarity you may be able to provide.

    (Ed: I asked about this when I went to Nicosia. Further changes are planned this year, but they were reluctant to say what these will be – I expect they will require amendments to the law.)

  • embapaphos says:

    Dear Nigel your reply again is greatly appreciated I wish I had read your article sooner!.

    I just want to add to my below post if possible? and may it be a warning to others.

    Nigel is there any recourse for action here in terms of a refund for paying up when I didn’t need to?

    (Ed: I don’t know if there is a mechanism to get a refund. (The chap in Nicosia I mentioned who also paid has the same problem.)

    And I will mention the Famagusta land registry trapped buyers dept. was confident in telling me that as of 2013 onwards buyers (deedless or not) are obliged to pay IPT on property they have purchased.

    (Ed: The Immovable Property Tax law changed in 2014 requiring those who had purchased property to pay IPT directly to the tax office regardless of whether they had the deed to the property. See Paying Immovable Property Tax 2014. I expect you were also fined for late payment?)

    That is why I had been charged IPT for 2013-2016 for my purchase & asked to furnish proof of this as part of the trapped buyers process,& charged even though the land reg letter stipulated that proof of payment of ipt, sewerage, communal fees isn’t needed if the responsibility of the buyer for aforementioned taxes/fees etc aren’t mentioned in sales agreement. I had to pay for the years 2013 onwards. I paid up at all depts. And it came to a pretty sum.

    Moreso I feel cheated and angry that various land registries are interpreting the trapped buyers law in different ways!. I believe the land reg should have at least reviewed as part of my trapped buyers application my sales agreement (as is the practice by the Larnaka land reg) to see that the responsibility for the taxes on paper didn’t lie with me, before sending me off to be charged erroneously by the taxman, sewerage etc.

    The well informed Larnaka lady told me she believed if I hadn’t paid the taxes etc I was covered (as per my sales agreement), and come deed transfer time the developer would either:

    a.show up and pay the taxes for me (very doubtful) and pass charges on to me or I as a buyer would show up with him and pay the taxes etc that allow the transfer(more likely)

    b. developer doesn’t show up at all and land registry does a forced transfer she called it, in which case I would not be liable for the back taxes etc…this was a grey area she could not be sure as she had no cases of where forced transfer had been done yet in Larnaka.

    (Ed: Providing the Land Registry has accepted the evidence you provided that you have fulfilled your financial obligations towards the developer the only money you will need to pay is the Property Transfer Fees.)

    Not to lose sight of the bigger picture here, on a plus note I was called by the land registry to say that they have separate deeds for the properties on our block albeit in the awol developers name, took over 10 years to get here! The 45 day notice letter of allowing any objections has been sent out to the interested parties as well.

    (Ed: After the 45 days have passed you will receive a ‘Notice of Transfer‘ form from the Land Registry – and the vendor will receive a similar letter.

    Once you receive the letter you can visit the Land Registry to effect the transfer. There is no need for the vendor to attend.)

    Am still pretty much fuming at coughing up all the taxes etc which on paper and logically speaking its ‘my property so I pay taxes and refuse etc on it. BUT didn’t need to according to trapped buyers law until in essence I had deeds at hand and I would be paying for future taxes and not backdated ones. Again thanks Nigel

  • embapaphos says:

    hello to all, Don’t want to confuse anyone but I have been given differing answers depending on which land registry I spoke to regarding contractual obligations of buyers who proceed through the trapped buyers law that relate to IPT, Sewerage, and communal fees owed or not owed.

    Pafos says the trapped buyers application will not proceed unless these have been paid (in my sales agreement/case there is no mention of who is responsible for these taxes and despite the land registry letter mentioning you don’t need proof of payment of these unless its written in your sales contract that these taxes are your responsibility)

    Larnaka say I shouldn’t have needed to pay up if these taxes etc are not stipulated as being buyers in sales agreement.

    Limassol went further saying its too late, get a lawyer assigned on the case mention you paid whereas you did not need to do so and claim back from developer

    And finally Pafos told me to speak to Mr. Charalambous mentioned in the article who will clarify the point of this standard land reg letter that asks trapped buyers to pay outstanding IPT etc

    All I want to know is either way would these taxes not have come the buyers way in the end? either at transfer time after all the taxes per say are related to the purchasers property and not the actual developers….and being told the application would not proceed if the taxes are not paid is this correct?

    (Editor’s comment: I had the article vetted before I published by Irene Anastasiou (the chief architect of the law I believe) and Charalambos Charalambous. Furthermore I have seen one of the letters that the Land Registry sends to those who are liable to pay sewerage, immovable property and municipal/community taxes. The person who sent me the letter, a Cypriot chap in Nicosia, visited each of the offices in turn where he was presented with a bill – and after paying and receiving receipt took those receipts to the Land Registry as proof that he had paid his tax obligations.

    Larnaca has replied to you correctly – someone else in Larnaca who was not contractually obliged to pay these taxes was also advised he did not have to pay.

    It is people in the Limassol & Larnaca offices who should speak to Charalambos Charalambous – not you.)

  • Linda D says:

    Dear Nigel

    I am the owner of an apartment in a block which was built 9/10 years ago. The builder built 2 blocks of apartments with shared facilities. I applied for the Title Deed last October and after visiting Land Registry again recently they have informed me that the Title Deed cannot be issued as the land has not been split. Is there anything I can do without going to a Solicitor.

    Regards
    Linda

    (Editor’s comment: I suggest you complete a ‘Compulsory Acquisition of Title‘ form, take it to the Land Registry and ask them to add it to your application. The Land Registry will pass this on the the Planning Authority who will instruct the developer to pull his finger out.)

  • Jan Freer says:

    Hi Nigel,

    Thank you so much for explaining clearly about the process of obtaining Title Deeds through the new law….I am going through this at the moment, and have just paid my local land taxes and am about to go to the Tax office in Larnaca to pay any taxes there, but before I go I have to have a form DT 318 completed by the developer and given to me and take it in with me…can you please tell me what this form is, as my developer doesn’t seem to know what it is. thank you.

    (Editor’s comment: You’re welcome Jan. The TD 318 Form must be fully completed by the vendor for every buyer/assignee/beneficial owner for properties held. You can download a copy and print it from – (FORM T.D.318A) 2015 (English) – and (Έντυπο Τ.Φ.318) 2015 (Greek).

  • Anthony says:

    Dear Nigel,

    I would like to praise a well researched and a highly informed article.

    To Your Success.

  • Jan says:

    Nigel, thanks for your efforts. I’m a little concerned by your reply to mollimoo regarding the Planning Department since it is these jokers in Paralimni who have been impeding the developer’s own attempts to move this matter forward. That and I’m not sure the developer wants to transfer anyway. I thought this new law was supposed to help us escape this type of Catch 22 situation.

    (Editor’s comment: I suggest that you complete a ‘Compulsory Acquisition of Title‘ form and ask the Land Registry to add it to your application. The Land Registry will follow this up with the Planing Department.

    Although the developer may not want to transfer the property to you, he can’t prevent it (unless you haven’t paid the full asking price and settled any other contractual obligations.)

  • Deanna says:

    Thanks for the link Nigel.

  • CPP says:

    Many thanks for your reply and all your hard work over the years Nigel.

    I sent the bank an email this afternoon as I live away at present so hope they still have a copy. It was in Sept 2004.

    If they don’t have a copy of the payment, I’m hoping the letter from the developer I provided to the DLO will prove I’ve paid everything to them as it only mentioned that I owe them the back taxes and nothing about payments for the villa.

  • doug says:

    Well written piece, well done.

  • Deanna says:

    Hello Nigel, I would like to add my thanks also for the years of work on the behalf of all us property buyers. Your attention to detail is quite amazing.

    I believe my Title has been issued; could you supply link to the DLS database please?

    (Editor’s comment: Thank you Deanna. You can find my guide to using the DLS database at ‘Cyprus Property Valuations now Online‘.)

  • mollimoo says:

    Thank you for this informative article and all your hard work.

    A couple of us in our apartment block applied 6 months ago and also submitted the Acquisition of Title application at the same time but have heard nothing at all.

    I checked on the DLS database and we are not on it. Is it a matter of just waiting patiently or should I be checking with someone our progress (or lack of!).

    Thanks again.

    (Editor’s comment: Thanks for your comments mollimoo, they are much appreciated.

    As the property is not shown on the DLS database it does not have a Title Deed. The Acquisition of Title application is passed to the Planning Department as there is probably a hold up in the bureaucratic process – or more work needs to be done on the development before the Planning Department can issue a ‘Certificate of Completion’ that will enable the Land Registry to start the process of issuing Title Deeds.

    I suggest you visit the Planning Department to find out what the hold up may be.)

  • CPP says:

    Nigel

    I recently requested a letter of confirmation of full payment for my villa from my developer (I can give you the company via email) and they would not give me the letter until I paid them the back taxes they said they had paid on my behalf. I asked for a receipt as proof of payment and long story short he wouldn’t give me a receipt. I do not want to pay these people any more money as I believe it would just sit in their account and they may well not pay these taxes I owe.

    When I submitted my application at the DLO the lady there informed me that if the taxes were the only thing outstanding, I would be asked by the “competent authorities” to pay them at the appropriate tax office. Is that correct or can the developer insist I pay them even without proof of their payment?

    Also, although I have paid the developer in full I am short 1 receipt of CYP5,000. Will that stop the issue of title?

    CPP

    (Editor’s comment: Yes, the lady at the DLO is correct. You will pay any outstanding taxes you owe to the ‘competent authorities’. The DLO will send you a notice.

    As for being short of a receipt for CYP 5,000. As you will see in the article there is other evidence you can provide that is acceptable to the DLO. One chap in Nicosia went to his bank and they retrieved his payment cheques from their archives and gave him certified copies – these were accepted by the DLO as proof of payment.)

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