PROPERTY buyers in Cyprus have reacted with shock after news broke last night that the government will not help to fix the Title Deeds saga. Final confirmation for long-suffering buyers came after months of speculation that much hyped legislation to fix the deed shambles was non-existent.
Campaigners are describing the revelation as a “bitter blow” which leaves them with no option other than to seek their deeds through the courts or sit and wait.
Turning to the courts may turn out to be an expensive endeavour which many pensioners ultimately won’t be able to afford to fight.
“The only recourse they have is through the courts. Can you imagine how long it’s going to take the courts to process 100,000 cases? They’ll all be long gone and buried before their cases are even heard, The whole situation is a complete and utter shambles,” said property analyst Nigel Howarth.
The news will also anger thousands of people stuck in limbo trying to sell their properties, which is ‘near to impossible’ without deeds according to a leading property adviser.
The devastating news came after British peer Lord Jones of Cheltenham demanded clarification about the much-discussed legislation designed to end the fiasco.
His question, to a packed House of Lords, sent British High Commissioner Peter Millet scrambling to the Minister of the Interior to seek an answer on the deeds issue.
The answer, which was published in Hansard yesterday, confirmed that up to 100,000 people will be left in the cold by the government. “Our High Commissioner, in Cyprus discussed the question of Title Deeds with the Minister of Interior of the Republic of Cyprus on 27 April 2009.
“The Minister was fully aware of the problem of obtaining Title Deeds, an issue which also affects a large number of Cypriots. The Cyprus Government will introduce legislation to speed up the issuing of Title Deeds, but this legislation will only apply to future cases. The Minister expressed a willingness to meet representatives of interest groups about this issue.”
The state is now being accused by some buyers as ‘stringing them on with lies’ after several assurances to the British Government that it intended to introduce a bill to address the issue.
“We’ve all been strung along, the British government, the property buyers, everyone…we were all conned,” said Denis O’Hare of CPAG.
“There are ways out of this situation which could cripple the economy; the government need to sit down with us and get moving on the issue,” he added.
In February it was revealed that the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Chancellor Alistair Darling had been in communication concerning Title Deeds.
Even then, Miliband stated that the British High Commissioner to Cyprus had “received assurances” from the Cypriot Interior Ministry that they would introduce a bill to address the situation soon.
Around 100,000 properties in Cyprus are without Title Deeds and Land Registry officials have confirmed that 30,000 of these properties have been bought by foreigners, the vast majority being British.
The news will also have serious repercussions on the flagging construction sector, which has been bruised by the credit crunch and marred by property scam nightmares and the Title Deed shambles.
“Why didn’t the Cyprus government tell the whole truth in the first place? Is it being completely honest with us now? No-one in their right mind is going to buy property here until the government does something about existing buyers who have been conned into buying mortgaged property and who continue to be defrauded,” Howarth added.
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2009