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Cyprus in court over title deed delays

Scales of Justice on the Dome of the Old Bailey – London’s Central Criminal Court
Scales of Justice on the Dome of the Old Bailey – London’s Central Criminal Court

A CASE is coming up in the UK High Court against a Cypriot developer and Cypriot lawyers following the Cyprus government’s inability to resolve the existing backlog of thousands properties that have not had title deeds issued.

As a result, questions were raised last week in the House of Lords seeking a first round of punitive actions against Cyprus, despite government assurances to resolve the problem that has left hundreds if not thousands of Cypriot, British and other property owners at the mercy of crooked developers and colluding lawyers.

The landmark case could not have come at a worse time for Cyprus that has celebrated the legal victory against a British couple who have developed land in the Turkish-occupied north owned by a Greek Cypriot refugee and who are being forced to give up their assets in the U.K. as compensation.

Lord Jones of Cheltenham has asked the British government “what steps it will take to warn those contemplating buying property in Cyprus of the risk of losing their homes when developers who have retained title deeds in order to raise further loans default on those loans.

Lord Jones has also called for steps to close down the U.K. offices of Cypriot companies selling property and ban the promotion of Cyprus property at exhibitions of overseas property held in the Britain. He wants to take further steps “to protect United Kingdom citizens from individuals who retain title deeds after properties in Cyprus have been bought.

Finally, Lord Jones has asked the British government to “work with other European countries to urge the government of Cyprus to prosecute individuals who have retained title deeds after completion of property sales in Cyprus to United Kingdom and other European citizens.

The UK Government is expected to reply to Lord Jones’ questions by June 25.

The cyprus-property-buyers.com website, created by disgruntled property owners and victims of corrupt developers, is spearheading the campaign calling for a ban of all Cyprus property companies and to close their UK offices.

Already suffering from the effects of the global economic crisis and a tarnished reputation, Cyprus received another body blow in the British House of Lords,” the website reported.

Following last Tuesdays bombshell that the changes to property laws being planned by the Cyprus government will bring no relief to existing buyers, British peer Lord Jones of Cheltenham has called on the UK Government takes positive steps to protect British citizens,” it explained.

As the website noted, “overseas property sales are a major contributor to the island’s economy. After Spain and France, Cyprus used to be the most popular place for Britons seeking a place in the sun and it has been estimated that over 60,000 have bought property on the island. Although their appetite started to cool at the beginning of 2004, Britons still make up the majority of overseas property investors.

Closing down Cypriot companies in the UK and banning the promotion of Cyprus property at overseas property exhibitions will have disastrous consequences on property sales and the island’s economic well-being,” the website added.

When a developer goes bankrupt an individual without a title deed faces the risk of losing everything. The banks have the right to claim the collateral and property buyers will be left homeless and tens of thousands of pounds worse off.

The main bone of contention is that in October 2005, the Government said it was going to plug loopholes in the law, introduce fines, and provide property buyers what it called “an arsenal of weapons against unscrupulous property developers.

In September 2007, the government said it was going to look at providing greater security to homebuyers by enabling their contracts of sale to take precedence over the developers’ mortgages.

In June 2008, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis assured property buyers that newly proposed legislation to resolve problems in the property sector could be implemented by the end of the year.

In January 2009, the Interior Ministry gave its assurances to the British High Commissioner that it intended to introduce a Bill to address the title deed issue.

In April, Minister Sylikiotis qualified his earlier assurances to the High Commissioner by saying that the Bill will only apply to future cases.

Copyright © 2008 Financialmirror.com

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