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Is it safe to buy property in Cyprus?

“Is it safe to buy property in Cyprus?” is a question I’m constantly being asked and although changes to the law in recent years have improved the situation, some buyers are still at risk.

Is it safe to buy property in Cyprus?ALTHOUGH changes to the law in recent years have helped to reduce the risks when buying property in Cyprus, significant problems still remain in cases where properties are purchased for which no Title Deed has been issued.

Where no Title Deed has been issued for a property being purchased, depositing the sale agreement at a Land Registry Office prevents the vendor from selling the property to someone else. (However, a small number of cases have been reported where contracts have been removed from the Land Registry and the property sold to a third party.)

In cases where a contract has been deposited at a Land Registry Office and the vendor fails to fulfil his contractual obligations, the purchaser can apply to a Court demanding the transfer of the property to their name. But, of course, the property cannot be transferred if there is no Title Deed.

Furthermore, Article 10 of the Streets and Buildings Regulation Law, Cap 96, clearly states that “no person shall occupy or use, or cause, permit, or suffer any other person to occupy or use, any building unless and until a certificate of approval has been issued in respect thereof by the competent authority.”

Once completed, buildings are inspected to ensure they comply with the various permits and approved plans for their construction by the planning authorities, fire services, etc. These inspections also ensure fire doors and other vital health and safety measures have been incorporated in the building. Once issued this ‘Certificate of Approval’ together with the plans, permits, etc. is passed to the Land Registry who can then start the process of issuing the buildings Title Deed(s)

In more than 20 years I have not heard of a single case where criminal proceedings have been brought against anyone occupying, using, etc. building for which no Certificate of Approval has been issued. What is the point of having a law that is never enforced? And if it were enforced who is going to wait the many years it takes the authorities to issue this certificate until they can move into their new home?

Further problems arise when developers fail to complete developments, leaving roads, pavements, green areas, etc. unfinished. In these cases, it’s the hapless buyers who have to pay for any outstanding work to be completed before they can get clean Title Deeds. And in some cases, the planning infringements may be so severe that Title Deeds may never be issued!

What property is safe to buy?

It’s usually safe to buy properties that have been issued with their all-important Title Deeds. However, it’s not all plain sailing.

Encroachment, where a property has been built on a neighbour’s land, can be a problem in the villages. I would advise anyone buying an older property or land in a village to have its boundaries checked by a registered surveyor.

And in all cases use an independent lawyer to protect your interests and carry out due diligence on your behalf. By ‘independent’ I mean a lawyer who has no connection with anyone else involved in the transaction and who is licenced by the Cyprus Bar Association. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes a list of English speaking lawyers available on their website at Cyprus – List of Lawyers and translators/interpreters.

Readers' comments

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  • Dave D says:

    Aggis Demetrius, I wish my solicitor would of given my wife and myself that advice when we spent our life savings on our property, instead he provided us with a contract of sale written in ENGLISH, which quite clearly states we would receive our deeds within three years (he added verbally it would more likely be within a year) like I have stated previously it’s 13 years now and we our still waiting, so I would suggest to you it makes no difference what language THEY use to write any documents….its still lies.

    Ed: If you haven’t done so already, I suggest you apply for the Title Deed to your property as described in my article Applying for Title Deeds.

  • John Turner says:

    I Bought in 2006 and received my deeds in 2009, although I had problems with the developer trying to rip me off for the immovable property tax, he wanted 6,000.00 for what should have been a 500.00 bill.

  • .Margaret Naylor says:

    I sold my property with title deeds. I used and would advise a buyer or seller to use a legal representative. My solicitor dealt with everything. I gave him power of attorney and the process went smoothly and there was no problems. I also used an estate agent to help sell it as I was not in Cyprus all the time. Do not let the cost of buying or selling a property influence one to save money by taking short-cuts. There are unscrupulous people out there trying to tempt one to do a deal with incentives to save money. It’s not worth it.

  • aggis demetriou says:

    NO CLEAN TITLE WALK AWAY! apart from that Cyprus is a wonderful place to live thanks to the British as its one of the very few countries that the Land Registry and Banks accept documents in English.

  • Terry says:

    Only buy a resale with title deeds, your then home and dry with NO problems…..Rocket science.

    Ed: you could be home and dry, but see the last section of my article. You still need to do due diligence and in some situations check the boundaries.

  • Costas says:

    Is there a way to find out if my late parents had any land in Cyprus, I am or should I say born here in London UK, both my parents came here in the early 50s.

    Ed: Yes you can find out if your parents had any land in Cyprus. If you have their ID numbers the Land Registry can seach its database. But you’ll need to visit Cyprus and get a lawyer to assist.

  • Dave D says:

    Thirteen years and still awaiting our deeds, in all that time we have been lied to by just about everyone in authority, now into our 70s doomed to die in this dreadful place …..only a fool would buy a property in Cyprus.

  • Maxwell says:

    Do not buy a property in Cyprus we have one near Ayia Napa we have had it for 20yrs the builder conned my parents no deeds given also the builder put a secured loan on the land! My father paid cash for the house! He has now passed away and we have been left to pick up the pieces dreadful state.

  • Stuart Lodge says:

    Just curious, ?
    With this swimming pool new law where you have to have a licence and a life guard present, surely this is going to put people off in buying properties in Cyprus.

    Ed: Yes the antediluvian swimming pool laws and regulations will certainly dissuade people from buying apartments and other developments with shared swimming pools. I plan to write an article on the fiasco later this week.

  • john says:

    I wasn’t aware that any Cyprus lawyers had been struck off (Who was it?) – I remember one Lawyer called Emily being reprimanded / fined for some breach of procedure.

    Would you share the name of the lawyer you are currently using.

    Ed: Emily Lemoniati was fined €1,000 for misconduct – see Bar Association fines lawyer for misconduct.

    A lawyer in Paralimni and another in Larnaca have been struck off the BHC’s list, but I suspect the lawyer Adam refers to is someone else.

    If Adam posts the names, I’ll send them to you by email.

  • Deanna says:

    Our house was finished and paid-for in 1990….still waiting.

    No, I wouldn’t say ‘don’t buy’, but I’d direct them to our amazing online forums….

    Back then, there were no forums/no internet and no way of checking whether or not we were being told the truth…

  • Phillip says:

    Hi All

    The simple answer to your question is if there are NO COMPLETE and CLEAN TITLE DEEDS to the property there and then DO NOT BUY

    Phil

  • Sylvia baxter says:

    My answer to this question is a resounding no. Apart from the problems outlined by Nigel, there is the question of unstable land in some areas (my own!). The “authorities” rezoned the area from agricultural to residential. Many different developers built and sold properties. The land is now moving and apart from other problems, title deeds cannot be issued as the houses are not in “the correct position”.

  • Christopher Solomon says:

    Answer is NO! Never buy only rent, but read the small print. It is much cheaper in the long run and your losses are minimal. You will probably return to country of origin in a few years anyway.

  • Adam Lomas says:

    Nigel,

    thank you for this excellent article, as usual, well researched, pithy and accurate.

    I should like to add a couple of comments if I may.

    Along with several other ‘owners”, we have been struggling for thirteen years to obtain our deeds, we have still not been successful despite tens of visits to the land registry, a change in the law to assist so called “trapped buyers”, promises but the government that there is a “gentleman’s agreement” with the banks that they will clear up the sordid mess created by banks, lawyers and builders co-operating to provide mortgages after the properties were sold to builders who were operating a form of pyramid building scam.

    we took advice from the list provided by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office, our first lawyer has since been the only lawyer struck off and censored for poor behaviour – his firm was representing the builder, the bank, the developer and us. he found this quite OK.

    our second lawyer took US to court when we dared to question why there had been no progress after five years, luckily she took us to a UK court who found against her, and the Judge said it was the worst case of inappropriate behaviour he had seen in her court, it cost us more than £84,000 to defend ourselves.

    our present lawyer seems to be excellent, – she is English and we have hopes of her sorting out our Title deeds, but even she is struggling to obtain all the paperwork required, since the builder has since gone “bankrupt” and has been in jail.

    the Cyprus government has been promising to sort out the Title deeds problem for years, but is hampered because of the Non performing loans (NPL) issues which are being resisted by the interests of the banks, despite “agreements”.

    the British government and their local representatives the FCO seem to be ignoring the problem completely, perhaps when they’ve finished with BREXIT…….

    Be very, very careful if buying in Cyprus! I often see holiday makers gazing in the window of the property sales office where I went 13 years ago, and resist the temptation to go up and say – ” don’t do it, you’ll regret it”

  • Carole Pharoah says:

    I disagree with Greg. It is safe to buy a property if the deeds have already been issued, ask to see them. The only time to be wary is if buying on a new development.

  • Mike Everitt says:

    The answer is on balance ‘yes’, just take the same professional advice you would for any major transaction. I bought and have had property here for several years without problem.

  • Julie says:

    My husband and I brought a plot with many others ,we were lied to saying we would get are deeds when the house was finished,well that never happened it took us over 10years be for we got are deeds ,it was hard going ,so I say do not bye a house unless it is clear of any ownership to land ,and has its deeds ,ask to see the deeds ,don’t take their word for it ,if I did this again which I will not ,I would of bought a house with a deed …… Be very careful who you deal with. And check everything think out ,and get a British lawyer,and a Cyprus one as they will not work in your interest,check ever think ,don’t take their word for it ,,,,,,,,

  • Greg says:

    So the answer is, on balance, NO!

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