ACCORDING to figures released by the Cyprus Land Registry, nearly 30,000 non-Cypriots are waiting for the Title Deeds to their properties.
During the last three and a half years, 4,400 properties have been transferred to non-Cypriots while the transfers of a further 29,949 are still in the pipeline.
Added to the fact that a recent report concluded that sales to foreign buyers account for 3 out of every 10 properties sold in the past few years, there must be somewhere in the region of 100,000 properties in Cyprus waiting for their Title Deeds to be issued.
What causes the delays?
There are many causes for the delays in issuing Title Deeds:
- Property developers not clearing mortgage debts on the land on which they’ve built properties and which they’ve subsequently sold to unsuspecting buyers.
- Bureaucratic delays in the Land Registry and other central Government and local Government departments.
- Planning infringements caused by property developers deviating from the various permissions and permits issued for the construction of their developments.
- Planning infringements caused by those who have bought property making changes to their property without the required permits.
- Etc, etc, etc.
Why is a Title Deed so important?
Without a Title Deed to a property:
- You do not own the property and are therefore unable to enjoy the full benefits of property ownership, including the right to sell or transfer it to anyone you wish without reference to its registered owner.
- Should you wish to sell, you need to cancel or transfer your contract of sale at the Land Registry enabling its registered owner to enter into a new sale agreement with your buyer. I know some buyers who have been charged more than € 34,000 by the registered owner, a disreputable property developer, for this ‘privilege’. But a recent Court ruling may help to put an end to this despicable practice.
- Under certain circumstances the legal owner of the property can still raise a mortgage on the land on which your property is built without your permission, even though you may have paid him for it in full.
- Property developers prey on buyers without Title Deeds by extorting huge amounts of money from them claiming that it is to pay their immovable property tax.
- You may have bought a property that has been built illegally; as a necessary precursor to issuing Title Deeds is a formal independent inspection to ensure the property has been built in accordance with the Planning and Building Permits issued for its construction. (If it transpires that the property was built illegally, the authorities could issue a ‘Demolition Order‘ resulting in the property’s destruction.)
- You are unable to raise money against your property and unable to access any of the capital you have tied up in it through equity release loans and other schemes.
- You are unable to make any changes to the property without the consent and the agreement of the Title Deed holder (most probably the developer from whom you bought it).
- As the Cyprus financial institutions refuse to grant mortgages on resale properties without Title Deeds, anyone wishing to buy your home must be a cash buyer.
(Some of the Title Deed scams practiced by Cyprus property developers were the subject of a damning documentary by Andrew Winter shown on UK TV in 2007. If you missed the program, watch an 8 minute clip below.)