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Local authorities delaying title deeds process

The title deeds process is being delayed by the local authorities who need to decide what type of certificate to grant to properties depending on their condition; a final certificate of approval, a certificate with remarks, or one with a prohibition.

Cyprus Title Deeds problemsTHE LAND registry is still waiting for local authorities to decide about properties belonging to buyers who have not received title deeds because of problems caused by the sellers.

Head of the department Andreas Socratous told the Cyprus News Agency that they have conveyed around 75 per cent of the cases of so-called trapped buyers to the local authorities and were now waiting for them to issue certificates.

It is part of a process introduced in 2015, granting the head of the land registry the authority to exempt, eliminate, transfer and cancel mortgages and or other encumbrances, depending on the case and under certain conditions.

The law sought to resolve the problems created by the failure to issue title deeds to people who had paid for their 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 were counted as assets that need to be offset against their debt to banks, this gave lenders a claim on people’s properties that had been mortgaged by developers.

Socratous said they have processed 28,000 such cases to date, including properties, finished 20 years ago.

“The responsible building authorities must decide,” Socratous said.

Local authorities can issue three types of certificates depending on the condition of the property: one of final approval, one with remarks, and one with a prohibition.

Final approval is issued when the property meets all the criteria; the one with remarks is issued if it has some irregularities but they are not substantial, he said.

A ban is issued when there are serious problems relating to health and safety or there is a violation of the rights of third parties.

“But what the authority must do is identify what case it is and issue the required certificate.”

The land registry will then issue a title deed reflecting the certificate from the local authority, he added.

The government is currently seeking ways to improve the legislation following court decisions that favoured banks largely on the grounds that the buyer’s claim on the property infringed on the contract between the bank and the developer.

The attorney-general subsequently instructed the departments involved to continue implementing the law while appeals were filed at the supreme court, which will have the final say on the matter.

In September however, the Larnaca district court upheld the 2015 law, allowing trapped property buyers to obtain their title deeds irrespective of the developers’ own commitments to banks.

Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said recently the ministry had prepared a bill which was sent to the Legal Service for processing last October.

“As it transpired from the differing district court decisions, it is a complicated legal issue and due to this an in-depth study is required,” the minister said.

Readers' comments

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  • John says:

    ED
    That’s what we thought the process was – Until we found out that our COS had been registered at LReg – This obviously satisfied the Bank – A loan was granted – & a few days before loan actually commenced the COS was mysteriously removed from Lreg – We found out this fact 10 years later!

    Ed: If your contract was removed from the Land Registry they will have a record of who removed it – and your name will be on the list. I guess it could have been deleted accidentally or by a software glitch.

    But you should have the contract deposit slip showing when you originally deposited the contract.

  • John says:

    Uboat is exactly correct in what he is saying –
    Borrow money from banks and use the SOLD properties as collateral (because they hold the title deeds)

    This exactly what happened to us – 15 years ago.

    Lawyers & Developers in cahoots!

    Ed: This cannot happen. If a developer borrows money against a development it only affects properties that have not been sold.

    When you buy a property you take your purchase contract to the Land Registry where it is date-stamped and recorded as a charge (lien) against the title to the larger plot.

    The same applies to a loan, which also creates a charge against the title. But as this will be dated after the purchase contract it will have no effect on properties sold earlier.

  • Uboat says:

    Well after all these years it still carries on.

    Lies and deceit, stalling and time wasting,

    What a sham it has turned out to be…. Developers can develop a site to one set of plans Sell the properties and change the plans to build even more houses on what should be Green areas on the original plan. Borrow money from banks and use the SOLD properties as collateral (because they hold the title deeds) and not even give one hoot about how this affects anyone who bought and paid in full 15+ years ago for the said property…. No one in power will change this as they are all complicit in the big sham … If they issue all the title deeds then they lose the bargaining power so why bother in their eyes keep the gravy train going ……… Its fraud on a grand scale…..

    And now they want more money to do something they should have done years ago ….!

    Ed: Developers CANNOT use sold properties as collateral for loans.

  • LK says:

    We might be in the last stages of our title deeds after 11 years but no-one can tell me and will not give me a timescale. I phoned Aristo and they tell me that I don’t need to know what is happening and they are working on it as fast as they can. They also told me that I don’t need to be told any specifics about my title deed process as the owner of the house doesn’t need to know this (!). They tell me I can phone the district of Limassol if I want.

    I then phone the district of Limassol. Reasons for not even getting past finding my file:

    First problem – file not on the computer as it was built too long ago (!)

    They then find it after leaving for 3 weeks then phoning back. Next reasons for not looking at it (with a gap of 2-3 weeks between each call)

    1. The election is happening and they are really busy

    2. The Limassol carnival is happening and they are busy (? having a party)

    3. The department of antiquities are now involved (right at the end) but they don’t know what they are interested in and don’t know anything about the meeting

    4. I finally call today and the lady says she really doesn’t know what is the problem and I need to call her boss (who she sits next to). I call her boss multiple times but no answer- he definitely doesn’t answer his phone (and the last time I spoke to him a few years ago he said his English wasn’t good and I needed to speak to someone else)

    I also call Aristo to ask them about what mortgage they have with the bank on the land. They tell me that the bank has given them a waiver on their mortgage and therefore no problems with getting the title deeds. This waiver has been given to them by the bank because people who have bought houses also have loans with the bank. ??? not sure I understand this but if the editor has any comments that would be helpful! Has the developer just got away with paying their mortgage with the bank?

    I have to wonder what the people who work in these organisations actually do all day apart from shuffle papers from one pile to another then back again…

    You couldn’t make this up if you tried…

    Ed: I expect the waiver has been granted as Aristo has repaid their debt to the bank for this development or the bank has moved th edebt onto usold properties.

  • Jill says:

    But, again, my question would be ‘why are the local authorities seeking contributions from the residents to finish off sites when the residents have already paid upfront for their villas and associated works’. Our Local Authority are asking 70,000 euros upfront (3,000 per household) with no promises of when the work will be done (if ever?) for a green area that nobody is interested in having after 14 years of living here?

    And, talking to someone who lives up the road, the L>A> are asking the same amount from them for an even smaller amount of work.

    If we don’t get the work done, we will get our Deeds (?) but with a memo attached. What’s the point of that – we’ll be worse of than we are now.

    So, Mr. Minister, what is going on?

    Ed: You forget – this is Cyprus where the victim has to pay for the work to be completed rather than the developer (who gets away scot free).

    Is it any wonder why sensible purchasers are restricting their search to properties with ‘clean’ Title Deeds.

  • Jan says:

    I went into the Paralimni Planning Department last year seeking an update on our situation, since I knew that the Larnaca LRO had completed the proposed division of our complex into individual units and it was with Paralimni for their consideration.

    What I found beggared belief. There was no system, no process and no schedule for the work. They could not even find our case file among the litter of two-deep folders on the manager’s desk. They could not provide an estimate of when their inspection would take place and then dropped the bombshell that their priority was to authorise new building permit applications and these would always go to the front of the queue. Not sure when it will all end but I’m not holding my breath.

    I return in April to take up the ‘Cyprus efficiency challenge’ again.

  • Deanna says:

    So, a Law is passed in 2015 to solve the problems of the Trapped buyers; then, in 2018, it’s suddenly a complicated matter (where have they been?) and needs further inquiry!

    Who is leaning on whom???

    Ed: As I said to Grant, the processes involved in planning, inspection and issuing Title Deeds need a complete redesign – the sell by date of the current processes expired many years ago.

  • Grant Bannister says:

    When they cannot sought out something so small and so simple it is no surprise that they will never solve the main Cyprus problem.

    Ed: I agree with you Grant. The processes involved in planning, inspection and issuing Title Deeds need a complete redesign – the sell by date of the current processes expired many years ago.

  • Whirlybird Rtd says:

    I call this”passing the buck” My wife and I have been to see the Land Registration Departments in Paralimni and both departments in Larnaca only to be sent round in a circle. Paralimni told us the only way to get our deeds was to go round our neighbours and ask them to pay a share each of the (1 dead and the other very ill) debts that they owe to the Community/government. This is over a piece of so called green area with weeds all over it in Avgorou.

    Ed: The fact that your neighbours have not paid the debts (taxes) they owe to the Community/government will not affect you getting your deeds. I suspect your developer failed to complete the green area and the planning authority is looking for a contribution towards the cost of finishing the work (but you will need confirmation from the authority.)

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