THE Cyprus Association of Valuers and Property Consultants has submitted number of suggestions for amendments to the proposed urban planning amnesty due to be discussed by Parliament:
Planning infringement fines
The first of these suggestions is that the fines imposed to legitimise planning infringements would be established by the Land Registry. The Land Registry would define the tariffs beforehand which would be calculated according to the age of the property, its type and its location.
The Association believes that this method would be very straightforward to operate and would result in the government receiving fines based on the size of the infringement. Also, it would enable those who had broken the law to estimate the cost of their misdemeanours beforehand and help to avoid friction and disagreement.
Certificate of final approval
Their second suggestion concerns penalties associated with delays in submitting applications for the issue of a Certificate of Final Completion. It recommends that the applications should be submitted within a reasonable time – for example within six months of the Electricity Authority approving the building.
Failure to submit applications within a reasonable time would result in serious penalties and fines. The Association points out that under article 20 of the Roads and Buildings Act violations of the criminal law result in a fine of a mere €1,710 – and argues that potential law breakers would be dissuaded from employing delaying tactics if the penalties and fines were increased.
In its article, the Association says that of the 120,000 properties that currently have no Title Deeds, only 20,000 of them have applied for a Certificate of Final Approval.
Their third suggestion is designed to help protect unwary buyers from unscrupulous developers who sell property without having first secured the required planning and building permits.
The Association agrees with many others that the current law does not protect these buyers once they have signed a contract to purchase.
Their suggestion is that the Land Registry would refuse to accept contracts of sale being deposited for the purpose of Specific Performance unless it has in its possession all of the documents necessary for the construction of the property which have been formally approved and rubber-stamped by the appropriate planning authorities.
The Association believes that change to the existing legislation will help to reduce the number of planning infringements and the number of illegal buildings as well as providing prospective buyers with a degree of added protection.
Furthermore, it believes that the rights of an individual to enter into a contract of sale will not be affected although it will stop the Land Registry accepting documents that may ultimately prove to be wrong or illegal in the initial planning stage.
(The original article, which is in Greek, may be viewed on the Cyprus Association of Valuers and Property Consultants website)
THE Cyprus Association of Valuers and Property Consultants suggestions will undoubtedly help a number of those who have bought property and who have yet to receive their Title Deeds as well as providing a degree of added protection to future buyers and helping to dissuade future law-breakers.
However, we have yet to see any suggestions that will help to protect existing buyers who have been duped into buying property built on mortgaged land and who face the threat of losing their homes if the developer goes into receivership.
As the Association points out that there are currently 120,000 properties without Title Deeds. And although some 20,000 applications for Certificates of Final Approval are in the pipeline, it is still unclear how many Title Deeds are held up as a result of developers not repaying their mortgages.
Readers are reminded that under article 10 of the Streets and Building Regulations Law, Cap 96 it is a criminal offence to occupy a building unless it has been issued with a Certificate of Final Approval by the appropriate authority.
A number of property buyers in Paphos have repeatedly appeared in front of the District Court charged with occupying their homes illegally.