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Trapped buyers breakthrough

It appears that a gentlemen’s agreement has been reached enabling trapped buyers who were duped by nefarious developers and lawyers into buying property on land that the developer had earlier mortgaged to get their Title Deeds.

Cyprus: Trapped buyers breakthrough agreementBANKS and the legislature appear to have to struck a gentlemen’s agreement that will resolve the matter of trapped buyers who are unable to get Title Deeds, it emerged on Tuesday.

In return for the approval of bills that would make it easier for banks to collect their dues, the bank association agreed on Tuesday not to raise any objections over the issue of trapped buyers without Title Deeds as long as the transaction was done in good faith.

“We acknowledge the effort the country and parliament are making and in turn we must also contribute,” Christakis Patsalides, chairman of the association, told the House finance committee.

In a bid to sort out the so-called trapped buyers mess, parliament in 2015 passed a government bill 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.

However, following a string of court decisions in cases where banks objected to the law, the land registry suspended procedures, as authorities contemplated their next move.

Ruling Disy chief and committee chairman Averof Neophytou welcomed the pledge, which would help tackle the bad reputation Cyprus gained abroad.

“If a buyer has fully paid off his flat in good faith, irrespective of whether the developer continues to owe to the bank, the bank will stop the objections, appeals, and court procedures and will give their consent to these owners,” Neophytou said.

He added that it was an important day for thousands of Cypriots and foreign nationals because they can finally get a Title Deed provided the transaction was in good faith without deception or fraud involved.

The deal is essentially a gentlemen’s agreement since legislating would violate the constitution. Members of the committee appeared reserved as to whether the banks would honour it.

“No one has seen Averof’s rage, let them dare breach their pledges and this rage won’t be limited to shouting but sanctions,” Neophytou warned.

The banks also agreed before the committee not to chase one single guarantor when one of them dies or goes bankrupt, but to distribute their share among the others.

Editor’s note

The undertaking is a gentlemen’s agreement as it cannot be included in a law because of constitutional restrictions.

Readers' comments

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  • Dave D says:

    Thirteen years and still waiting ….more lies !

  • scott says:

    Ed, its criminal. Fraud, deception etc is not civil.

    Ed: Fraud is “wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.”

    Failure to advise consumers of something that would change their purchasing decision is a “misleading omission” as described in EC Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC.

    “…commercial practice shall also be regarded as misleading
    if, in its factual context, taking account of all its features and circumstances, it causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision that he would not have taken otherwise…”

  • henryj10 says:

    Hi I am wondering how this will affect the people who were just weeks away from obtaining their deeds till the Alpha bank objected and started court action even though they paid and cleared all taxes etc.

    Ed: Assuming the bankers keep to their agreement they will no longer object to people, who were deliberately mislead by the charlatans and ‘crooks’ masquerading as developers and lawyers into buying property built on land that the developer had earlier mortgaged to the bank, from getting their deeds.

  • Kath says:

    Good news at last! Our block of flats worked together to put right the illegalities so that the Municipality could issue the building certificate. We paid for this ourselves as there was no hope of the builder sorting out the problems. Luckily it hasn’t cost us too much money and the Municipality issued the certificate in June.

    The majority of us filed for our Deeds at the LR a few years ago and so I am finally hopeful that after 14 years, I will have “proof of purchase”. Wouldn’t it be nice if I arrived in Cyprus later this year to a letter saying “here are your deeds” or is this wishful thinking, ha ha.

  • adam Lomas says:

    I find it hard to imagine how anyone believes that the meaning of a “gentleman’s agreement” is understood in this country, let alone that anyone would honor it.
    If this whole sorry mess had been run by Gentlemen in the first place the mess couldn’t have occurred.

    The same bankers who allowed second and third mortgages to be placed on properties, even after they had been sold, and allowed the lawyers to represent both owners, builders and themselves, are now making “gentleman’s agreements” please don’t make me laugh any harder there isn’t a gentleman amongst them.

  • scott says:

    Yet no lawyers or developers are being prosecuted and the government think that they are doing the property purchasers a favour by letting them keep what they have legally purchased. Pitiful.

    Ed: I expect that conning people into buying property on land that developers had earlier mortgaged to the bank is a civil rather than a criminal offence.

    There was a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court in 2010 when Paphos lawyer Paphos lawyer Nicos Papacleovoulou was ordered to pay around €120,000 to his former British clients.

  • martynG says:

    Can only say ‘better late than never” and hope all those affected can get their Deeds, lawful Rights – and only still wonder why those who govern, have the ‘powers’, have waited this l o n g!

    ALSO : re <>

    Er, does he seriously only give this ‘pledge’ to those who have ‘flats” ???? If so, why?

    Ed: People who have paid for their property in full should be able to get their Title Deeds regardless of what they purchased.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Al we need to do now is find some gentlemen, and more importantly, some who will keep their word.

  • Val P Glynn says:

    So what exactly will that mean from tomorrow? Will the LR be contacting owners who have applied and telling them their deeds are available for collection when appropriate fees are submitted?

    Ed: This agreement is conditional on the adoption of a law that will help the banks deal with loan defaulters (see the second paragraph.)

    No-one can say at he moment how it will be implemented.

    The Land Registry estimated last November that there were around 70,000 trapped buyers. 15,000 applications were filed, of which only 7,000 had a Title Deed. Of these 7,000 properties, around 3,500 had been transferred.

  • Gary says:

    It is great news but clearly nothing is guaranteed. The landscape could always change again. But, in the interests of positivity, at least the banks have acknowledged the mess genuine buyers find themselves in and accept, without stating it, that the banks played a pivotal role in that mess.

    Ed: Unfortunately it is very rare for anyone in Cyprus to accept any blame for the mess – but they are quite happy to point the finger at someone else.

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