REACTIONS to calls by Lord Jones of Cheltenham to shut down the UK offices of Cypriot companies selling property and to impose a ban on the promotion of Cyprus property at overseas property exhibitions in the UK appeared in the English-language press this morning.
Chairman of the Land and Building Developers Association, Lakis Tofarides, expressed surprise at Lord Jones action:
He told the Cyprus Mail “I have read what Lord Jones said and frankly I think it is a little bit out of proportion, exaggerated actually. This is not a matter of British versus Cypriots, it’s a problem which affects us too“.
A defiant Tofarides is reported to have scoffed at the idea that such proposals would ever be considered, let alone adopted in the UK. “Come on, this is exaggerated, overrated and I believe that serious people should take more serious action“.
Gerard Batten MEP was also critical of Lord Jones’ proposals:
“Lord Jones questions are too broad-brush. You don’t close down a legitimate business sector because some people are mis-selling and some people are not protecting their own interests by buying into something that does not have a title deed.
“If every sector was closed down to crookedness and in some cases stupidity, then the whole world of finance and business would close,” he said.
One well known developer, who wished to remain anonymous, said the British market was his ‘bread and butter’ but saw Lord Jones’ actions as political posturing:
“He has not helped, but I think it’s about getting his name in the newspapers. The reputations of our companies are being dragged through the dirt daily in England, however, we must do something to give people confidence now or we will all suffer very badly,” he said.
The Cyprus Property Action Group (CPAG) supports Lord Jones’ suggestions. “We’ve been saying the government won’t do anything for ages because this can’t be fixed by legislation – it needs money,” said Denis O’Hare of CPAG. “The longer the government fails to act, the worse the damage will be.”
A number of the companies in Mr Tofarides’ Land and Building Developers Association are believed to be involved in various fraudulent practices involving Title Deeds. Perhaps Mr Tofarides could put his own house in order before criticising Lord Jones’ suggestions.
Some 70,000 of the 100,000 properties without Title Deeds have been bought by Cypriots and George Strovolides, president of the Cyprus Land & Property Owners Association (KSIA), has been actively campaigning on their behalf and working with the Cyprus Property Action Group. So I don’t understand why Mr Tofarides seems to believe it’s ‘a matter of British versus Cypriots’ – clearly it isn’t – and never has been.
There is no question that serious people should take serious action. Perhaps Mr Tofarides should direct his comments to the Cyprus Government. It is they who have let this problem drag on for more than 20 years – and who continue to show their contempt of the Cyprus Property Action Group by refusing to even acknowledge their letters, report and requests for a Presidential review.
Mr Batten may be unaware that unless property buyers in Cyprus are fortunate enough to find an ‘honest’ lawyer to conveyance a property they remain completely oblivious of the fact that a developer has mortgaged the title to ‘their’ property – until they come to sell it – or the bank comes knocking on the door for its money.
The well known developer
Lord Jones of Cheltenham is a peer in the House of Lords and therefore has no need for ‘political posturing’.
Regrettably, the reputations of property developers (and the reputation of Cyprus) are getting dragged through the dirt daily in the UK. If something needs to be done now to give people confidence, I suggest that the Cyprus Government keeps its earlier promises to sort out the mess.
Whether or not you agree with Lord Jones’ views, he certainly appears to have ruffled a few feathers!