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Cyprus court upholds trapped buyers law

The Limassol District Court has upheld the ‘trapped buyers’ law overturning previous district court rulings in favour of banks that blocked Title Deeds being issued to some 70,000 trapped buyers.

trapped buyersA LIMASSOL district court ruling has upheld a 2015 law allowing trapped buyers to obtain the title deeds to the property they purchased irrespective of the developers’ own commitments to banks, local press reports said on Wednesday.

The court ruling was in response to an injunction requested by Alpha Bank against a Limassol flat-buyer who made use of the 2015 law to apply for his title deed even though the developer who built it had not been servicing his mortgage.

In accordance with the law, the Land Registry decided to issue the property purchaser’s title deed, which the bank challenged in court.

The law, the court found, is compliant with the constitution, dismissing the bank’s appeal.

The ruling has overturned previous district court decisions vindicating the banks and blocking the issuance of title deeds to purchasers.

The 2015 law was passed in a belated attempt to clear up the title deed mess. This had left thousands of property buyers, who had paid in full for their properties, without title deeds because of second, unserviced mortgages taken out by the developers, with the properties sold as collateral. According to the Land Registry, there are currently about 70,000 of these trapped buyers.

The 2015 law, the Limassol court ruled, does not infringe on the contract agreed between the bank and the developer, or the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of contract, because of the principle of self-sufficiency of contracts.

The bank’s argument, according to the ruling, that the buyer had been aware of the existence of the second mortgage, would equal a kind of punishment for the buyer. The buyer, the court said, would be meeting his contractual obligations but having a third party – the bank – objecting to the issuance of title deeds, effectively claiming and receiving possession of the property, would be paradoxical and irrational.

It added that, even if such a clause were not included in the law, the buyer has the right to separate title deeds for his property, provided it has been paid for, which the bank has no right to infringe on.

The law, the court said, does not violate the principle of equality, because it corrects distortions and removes obstacles set by third parties to the issuance of title deeds to buyers who have paid the price of the property in full.

It is understood that the bank will appeal the decision, with the matter ending up in the Supreme Court’s lap for a final ruling.

Reportedly, this is likely to take up to three years.

Readers' comments

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  • embapaphos says:

    Well I can say that my sister was one happy puppy after receiving her deeds too….I wish the best of luck to all those yet to do so….

  • Steve says:

    @LT Thanks, its been a long time, but title deeds are only the first step. Next there is the Euros 1000 that the deeds office said I had to pay back to the developer for IPT. Apparently, to get this back, I have to provide the tax office with receipts from the developer for every annual IPT payment. There is no guarantee that I will get anything.

  • Claudia Gilevich says:

    Have a safe and wonderful adventure Nigel!

    Ed: Thank you Claudia.

  • LT says:

    Hi Nigel, so people that have not applied so far will not be able to apply before final Supreme Court ruling?

    Message for Steve:
    I’ve seen you commenting almost every post on this site for years and feel your pain with the whole situation. I’m so glad you received your Title Deed! finally, the end of the tunnel!

    Ed: Yes – people can still apply for their deeds and the Land Registry is still issuing them – and many people are still receiving them. There was an article (Greek) last Thurdsday about changes to the law Δράση από τη Βουλή για τους «εγκλωβισμένους».

  • Steve says:

    Well, well, well. When the Troika made the condition for bailing out CYP that title deeds issue would be sorted out, lots of us were hopeful that this would make a difference to the issue of title deeds. The trapped buyers law was the implementation of that condition and for a while it seemed to be working. Then, when the funds had been delivered to bail out CYP, the banks appealed and the law was suspended. Now the Troika are revisiting the island to review the progress made on implementation of those commitments made, including title deeds issue.

    Well, well, well. I have received a letter this week from the deeds office informing me that my title deeds applied for under the trapped buyers law are ready for collection.

    Viva the Troika, Viva!

  • embapaphos says:

    Nigel was it not by sept this year that some resolution to all this was to be passed by law makers?

    Ed: That was the plan :-(

  • aggis demetriou says:

    finally common sense prevailed

  • Kath says:

    Does this mean no further title Deeds will be issued until the appeal in 3 years time?

    Ed: See my earlier reply to Molliemoo.

  • Molliemoo says:

    3 years!!! What happens in the meantime?

    Ed: I’m sorry to say the only thing you can do is twiddle your thumbs. But with 70,000 outstanding cases (and hopefully pressure from the Interior Ministry) the Supreme Court court will rule sooner rather than later.

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