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Our Top 10 stories from Cyprus in 2016

Top 10 stories from Cyprus 2016WHICH topics proved the top 10 most popular with our readers in 2016? Title Deeds (or rather the lack of them), Swiss franc loans, property tax, and Brexit.

Here are our top 10 stories from Cyprus in 2016 in reverse order:

Number 10: Property Transfer Fees reduction permanent – news that the temporary reduction in Property Transfer Fees announced in December 2011 had been made permanent. As the law now stands, those who paid VAT on the purchase price of their home are exempted from paying Property Transfer Fees, while those who did not pay VAT benefit from a 50% reduction.

Number 9: Immovable Property Tax 2016 – a radical proposal to slash Immovable Property Tax collected by the Cyprus government by up to 75 per cent and scrapping it all together in 2017 was passed by a majority vote in parliament. (Note however that an agreement by the Council of Ministers in June to abolish Immovable Property Tax collected by municipalities and communities was abandoned.)

Number 8: Paphos marina contract – after more than twenty five years since initial studies into the five big marina projects in Cyprus were undertaken, including  ten years of legal wrangling by competing bidders and a Supreme Court ruling, the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism announced that Poseidon Grand Marina of Paphos was the successful bidder for the construction of a marina in Paphos.

Number 7: Revised citizenship scheme approved – an announcement that the Cyprus Government had approved a revised citizenship-by-investment scheme designed to further encourage investments in the island’s economy by non-Cypriot businessmen and investors. Further details of the revised scheme may be found in the document Scheme for Naturalisation of Investors in Cyprus by Exception.

Number 6: Cyprus real estate market 2016 – a report from Delfi Partners & Co that forecast property prices in Cyprus over the year ahead and the longer term. You can read the company’s full report at Cyprus Real Estate Market Expectations & Forecast.

Number 5: Keep calm and carry on, expats urged – reactions to the result of the UK Brexit referendum. British citizens living in Cyprus were advised to keep calm and carry on as usual.

In November I was invited by the British High Commissioner Matthew Kidd to a briefing at his residence in Nicosia at which matters relating to Brexit were discussed. His Excellency offered a number of top tips to Brits living in Cyprus that you may find in the High Commission briefing for British expat representatives on island.

Number 4: Luxury homes go under the hammer – news that more than 100 luxury homes including a 520 sqm mansion said to be worth over €1 million were about to be auctioned after their owners failed to repay their bank loans

Number 3: Banks playing a dirty game – a report that a number of the Cyprus banks had obtained 30 – 40 temporary court orders preventing the transfer of properties to purchasers who had applied for their Title Deeds.

Number 2: Alpha Bank Cyprus fined – a landmark decision by the Cyprus Consumer Protection Service (CCPS) to impose an administrative fine on Alpha Bank Cyprus of €250,000 for several breaches of the Unfair Business-to-Consumer Commercial Practices Law relating to their Swiss franc housing loan agreements.

Number 1: Applying for Title Deeds – my guide to those who bought property in Cyprus before the end of 2014 should apply for their Title Deeds. Although I have received numerous emails from people who have managed to get their Title Deeds after many years, problems remain. As I reported yesterday more work is needed on Title Deeds; out of the 11,000 applications received by the end of August nearly 4,000 Title Deeds have been issued of which approximately 800 have been transferred to the property’s purchaser(s).

As reported in ‘banks playing a dirty game‘ several legal actions have been taken by the banks who claim that the ‘trapped buyers’ law is unconstitutional. In addition there are numerous planning issues that prevent local authorities issuing a ‘Certificate of Approval’ that would enable the Land Registry to issue Title Deeds; I understand there are approximately 20,000 such cases.

Hopefully we’ll see positive developments in the New Year into what the European Commission refers to as EC refers to as “the currently dysfunctional Title Deeds issuance and transfer system.”

May I take this opportunity to thank you for your support and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and health, happiness and Title Deeds in 2017.

Σας Εύχομαι Καλά Χριστούγεννα και Ευτυχισμένο το Νέον Έτος 2017.