DETAILS of the proposed legislation concerning Title Deeds and designed to protect property buyers in Cyprus have recently emerged in the local news.
The Interior Minister, Mr Neocles Sylikiotis, admits that the problems concern both foreign and Cypriot buyers and confirms that the new legislation will be ready by the end of the year.
Speaking to the Cyprus Weekly, Mr Sylikiotis said that the new law will mean that “buyers will pay for their property directly to the bank and separate Title Deeds will be issued for each property in a block or group of houses, irrespective of any town planning or bank problems faced by the developer.
In this way buyers will get separate Title Deeds for their property whether or not a Certificate of Final Approval has been issued for a whole block or for a project“.
Another law in the pipeline concerns a Town Planning amnesty, under which Title Deeds will be issued even though there may be Town Planning irregularities or weaknesses.
“This means that title holders of properties with town planning flaws will not be able to improve or sell their property until the irregularities are overcome.”
The new laws will go to the Cabinet and the House by the end of the year and Sylikiotis expects developments on the matter sometime next year.
The Minister acknowledged that “This is a chronic problem in Cyprus,” and stressed his determination to solve it.
Comment: A step in the right direction – but more work needed
I’m sure that everyone will welcome the fact that Title Deeds will be available much sooner for property buyers; but isn’t the proposed legislation going to devalue them?
Apart from the fact that it is illegal to occupy a building that has not been issued with its Certificate of Final Approval (under Article 10 of the Streets and Buildings Regulations Law, Cap. 96), isn’t there a health and safety issue?
Under the current system, the only independent inspection a property gets is when the Municipality/District Office/Town Planning Department has it inspected by the local Civil Engineer. This ensures that the property has been built in accordance with the various permits issued for its construction, which will have included building and health and safety regulations.
Who is liable if someone in the property is injured because it wasn’t constructed in accordance with the regulations? The property developer who failed to adhere to the regulations? The Government who failed to inspect the property?
And if there are severe town planning irregularities that cannot be resolved, what happens if the authorities issue a Demolition Order? Will the people who have bought such properties be reimbursed at its current market value? And if so, who is going to pay?
We’ve all seen the so-called ‘luxury properties‘ thrown up by the cowboys in the property development industry. Isn’t the fact that the proposed legislation is going to weaken some of the controls merely going to exacerbate the situation?
New Rights for Cyprus Property Buyers were promised in 2005, but the Government at that time failed to implement them.
I’m sure everyone wishes Mr Sylikiotis every success in his endeavours. If the achievements of his predecessors are anything to go by, he’s certainly going to need it!