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Working together for proper Title Deeds law

Mr Neoclis Sylikiotis - the Interior Minister of the Republic of Cyprus
Mr Neoclis Sylikiotis - the Interior Minister of the Republic of Cyprus

I WRITE in response to the Cyprus Mail articles on November 7 under the title ‘Homeowners broaden fight: Title Deed legislation fails to tackle developers’ and ‘Planned Title Deed law misleads EU: categories of ownership are ‘unconstitutional’.

I would like to clarify the following:

1) Since the completion of the drafting of five legislations concerning property registration and building procedures, I have called for a dialogue with all the political parties and interested professional bodies or other organised groups in order to have their proposals and comments.

In addition, the Ministry has uploaded all five proposed draft bills on its website for any interested party. In this context, I have already met the leaders of all Parliamentary political parties, as well as many groups. At the moment, we are re-drafting the proposed bills in line with some of the suggestions we have received. I am sorry to say, that we have not had any feedback from the CPAG.

2) Irrespective of the above, the buyer’s interests are safeguarded against any mortgage taken out by the seller, as long as that mortgage has been registered with the Lands and Surveys Department after the signing of the contract between the buyer and the seller.

3) In addition, according to the proposed legislative amendments, any aggrieved buyer will have readily available the option of applying for a court order, which in effect will order the seller to transfer the Title Deed on the name of the buyer. If the seller is not willing to co-operate, the court orders another party to compulsorily transfer the Title Deed to the buyer. Furthermore, amendments will allow authorities to proceed with procedures leading to the issuing of all permits and certificates, as well as separate Title Deeds for individual property units (i.e. flats, attached holiday villas etc.), even without the consent of the original owner-seller. Authorities will also have the power to enforce a penalty on any unwilling original owner in order to encourage timely responses and the co-operation of original owners, while the Minister will have the power to publicise the names of sellers who are not co-operating with authorities in line with procedures defined by law. These significant improvements will undoubtedly benefit, not only new buyers, but also people who have already signed such a contract for buying a residential unit, and find difficulties in having their Title Deed.

4) I do not agree with the CPAG’s opinion that the provisions of proposed legislation are unconstitutional. Despite the fact that I respect any opinion put forward about the constitutional soundness of these bills, even when this opinion comes from non-experts, I would suggest that the legal vetting of draft bills by the Legal Service of the Republic will guarantee for this issue. I would not consider the CPAG as an expert body on constitutional questions.

I will repeat that the Ministry of the Interior has put a serious effort in order to bring about a drastic and definite solution on long existing problem of the issuing of Title Deeds.

That is why I believe that this is not the right time for complaints of this nature. On the contrary, I sincerely believe that this the good time for all to work together in order to solve this Gordian situation.

Neoclis Sylikiotis is the Interior Minister of the Republic of Cyprus

© Cyprus Mail 2009

Editor’s comments

CRITICISM is mounting that the government is not doing enough.

The Cyprus Bar Association is the latest group to condemn the proposals. In a press statement issued last month it said that they will result in even more bureaucracy and delays.

It will lead us into a labyrinth without solving the problem,” it said – and called on the Land Registry to issue Title Deeds immediately the structure is completed.

The Cyprus Property and Landowners Association (KSIA) agrees that government’s proposal fail to address the root cause of the problem but it praised the government for trying to sort out the mess.

The government is trying to do something about a huge problem. The positive thing is that they acknowledge that the problem is there. It’s criminal that successive governments have let the problem reach this point,” said George Strovolides, the Association’s President, in a press statement last week.

Although the Interior Ministry has been working hard on the Title Deed problem, it has failed to address the most serious issue; protecting buyers who have been deceived into buying property built on mortgaged land and who are at risk of losing their homes if the developer collapses or the bank forecloses.

Two property developers have already gone bust and the banks have told a number of their buyers that their homes could be taken away to recover the debts.


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