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Property buyers rights to be strengthened by new law

The Cyprus Interior Minister, Neoclis Sylikiotis, has asserted once again that the draft legislation currently under discussion is designed to strengthen the rights of property buyers and will create healthier conditions in the Island’s real estate market.

CONSULTATION on the draft legislation designed to ease the Title Deeds problem and ultimately create healthier conditions in the property market has now been completed “within an open, democratic and transparent process” aimed at creating the “broadest possible political and social consensus”, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis said on Friday.

For the first time and in a holistic manner faces up to a lingering problem, a Gordian Knot which has prevented thousands of Cypriot and foreign property buyers from obtaining Title Deeds,” Sylikiotis said.

The Minister spoke to the press after meeting with representatives of the main political parties last Friday to discuss the draft legislation package. He said the aim was to facilitate the bills’ speedy passage through the House in early 2010 following their approval by the Council of Ministers before the end of the year.

An estimated 130,000 units (houses, flats, hotels) are currently without Title Deeds, while only 22,000 applications for Title Deeds have reached the Land Registry, with a further 4,000-5,000 being processed in recent months. The proposed legislation has been designed to ease this bottle-neck by providing an “amnesty” for minor infractions of town-planning regulations and strengthening the position of property buyers when applying for Title Deeds.

The consultation process began with the publication of the five bills in July. A first round of meetings was held with various interest groups such as the Technical Chamber (ETEK), the Cyprus Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KEVE), the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEV), the Cyprus Land & Building Developers Association (CLBDA), and official representatives of surveyors, civil engineers and other property sector professionals.

This first round of consultation meetings produced written proposals for improving the bills. The second round took place over the last two days, when Sylikiotis briefed all interested parties – this time including the Cyprus Land and Property Owners’ Association (KSIA) and the Cyprus Property Action Group (CPAG) – on what will most likely form the final version of the draft legislation.

The Minister emphasised once again yesterday that “strengthening the buyer’s rights lies at the centre of the amendments”. One set of new provisions will make it compulsory for the sale & purchase contract to be registered with the Land Registry, and for the Completion Certificate to be applied for and obtained by the developer. In practice, the lack of compulsion on such matters has acted against property-buyers’ interests.

Sylikiotis said that this new process will bring the problems to the surface, and forcing them through the system will facilitate the issuing of Title Deeds.

© Cyprus Mail 2009

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