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EU petition launched on Title Deeds

The Cyprus Property Action Group (CPAG) has launched an online petition to the European Parliament on articles 17 and 38 in EU law, which it says are being violated by the ‘unregulated’ property sector in Cyprus.

A PAPHOS based group lobbying for government action on withheld Title Deeds has taken their EU canvassing one step further.

The Cyprus Property Action Group (CPAG) has launched an online petition to the European Parliament on articles 17 and 38 in EU law, which it says are being violated by the ‘unregulated’ property sector in Cyprus. Respectively, the articles refer to property and consumer protection.

It gives no one at CPAG any satisfaction, that after nearly two years of lobbying the government we now have to resort to these other channels of appeal,” CPAG spokesman Denis O’Hare told The Cyprus Weekly. “It is due to the failure of the Cyprus government to act in the best interest of the people, both Cypriot nationals and the tens of thousands of foreign buyers who have done so much to support the economy over the years.

CPAG was set up in 2007 with the aim of working with the government to address irregularities in the property sector. It cooperates closely with the Cyprus Land & Property Owners Organisation (KSIA). Their joint objective has been to protect the important property sector and to avoid damaging the image of Cyprus as an attractive property market. But after a continued lack of response to their overtures, including the presentation of a government commissioned report on the pitfalls of the sector, CPAG has decided the time has come to canvass beyond the Cyprus government.

We are flabbergasted and mystified at the utter lack of response from the government on this,” says O’Hare.

CPAG has drafted an example petition to provide an outline text that can be altered if the petitioner thinks it necessary. It does not pay the Cyprus property market any compliments describing home buyers without deeds as ‘routinely defrauded’ and ‘financially exploited by developers’.

The lobby group thinks that potential impact of the petition is huge.

The European Parliament recently froze hundreds of millions of euro in EU payments to Spain as a result of illegal practices in that country perpetrated against property buyers,” says O’ Hare. “This was largely a result of buyers petitioning the European Parliament through a similar type of petition that we have set up.

It is estimated that 100,000 properties in Cyprus are without Title Deeds and developers have taken out €4 b of mortgages on the plots where they are built. Most are concentrated in the Paphos and Protaras areas.

But O’Hare says that the picture is getting even uglier.

First of all, we were shocked to discover that the land where fully-paid for homes are located is mortgaged. Now we have learned that there are some cases where the developer hasn’t made any effort to pay back their loans for years. The lending banks in Cyprus do not really care because they are secure in the knowledge that, ultimately, the buyers may have to pay off the developer’s loan to obtain Title Deeds. If they can’t pay, then the home can be repossessed. We know of cases where people have been advised by banks that this could be a next step. In the meantime, the banks make a fortune at little risk.

But with CPAG informing worried home owners without deeds that their properties are at serious risk, can they back this claim up with any cases of properties being re-possessed?

We have not heard of anyone’s homes being repossessed yet,” says O’Hare. “It won’t happen immediately. But the situation is worse than that. Many home owners are blissfully unaware that there are mortgages on their property which are not being serviced and on which interest is accruing. That a bank can carry out these practices just beggars belief in any just or civilised country, especially an EU member state.

Copyright © 2009 Cyprus Weekly

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