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More than ninety percent say no

Would you buy a property in Cyprus without a Title Deed? More than ninety percent of our readers answered no.

A RECENT mini-poll conducted by the on-line Cyprus Property News magazine revealed that 93 percent of the 1,317 readers who voted said that they would not buy a property in Cyprus that did not have its Title Deed.

Poll results – Buying a property that does not have its Title Deed

Poll results – Buying a property that does not have its Title Deed

This result is hardly surprising given the number of problems and the amount of bad publicity resulting from the Island’s Title Deed fiasco.

In the statement he issued in 2009, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis said that the government’s policy was to introduce “effective and comprehensive practices for solving this problem” and that its goal was to issue “some 20,000 Title Deeds by mid 2010″.

Two and a half years later, nothing has changed – and by mid-2010 a mere 10,701 Title Deeds had been transferred, slightly more than half the government’s stated target.

UK MPs and MEPs have been deluged with letters from disgruntled buyers and the EU has been asking some serious questions of Cyprus, which incidentally will take over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of next year.

Many of the problems have been reported by the Island’s English-language press and the UK media. A team from ITV, the UK’s largest independent terrestrial TV broadcaster, spent a week on the island recently recording material for their upcoming ‘Homes from Hell’ series; they are planning a second visit in February to record more material for a second one-hour episode.

But despite the bad publicity, the government appears impotent being either unable or unwilling to resolve the Title Deed issues and restore the Island’s tarnished reputation and overseas investor confidence.

Readers' comments

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  • ldklksdkl says:

    My solutions for the title deeds problem is to get in touch with the Land Registry and http://www.moi.gov.cy/dls .

    Land Information Office (Headquarters)

    17 Alasias Street
    1075 Nicosia
    Tel: 22 304820
    Fax: 22 767001

    District Lands’ Offices

    Famagusta
    59 Faneromenis Street
    P.O. Box 40419
    6304 Larnaca
    Tel: 24 304288
    Fax: 24 304290

    Kyrenia
    35 Acheon Street
    1101 Nicosia
    Tel: 22 303945 Fax: 22 303838

    Larnaca
    6 Medousis Street
    P.O. Box 40106
    6301 Larnaca
    Tel: 24 803301 Fax: 24 304288

    Limassol
    Franklin Roosevelt Avenue
    P.O. Box 50200
    3601 Limassol
    Tel: 25 804800 Fax: 25 804890

    Nicosia
    21 Acheon Street & 10 Etolon Street
    1459 Nicosia
    Tel: 22 303939 Fax: 22 780961

    Paphos
    44 Eleftheriou Venizelou Street
    P.O. Box 60008
    8100 Paphos
    Tel: 26 802300 Fax: 26 306129

    Paralimni Sub-Office
    26a Marias Sinklitikis Street
    Paralimni
    Tel: 23 821253 Fax: 23 829195

    What your solicitor should have done is deposit your contract of sale with the Paphos office for what is known as Specific Performance. He/she would also have assisted you in obtaining a permit from the Council of Ministers to own the land. Get in touch with your local council for advice.

    Solutions: IDENTIFY THE CATEGORY OF YOUR PROBLEM:
    e.g: on morgage by developer, no title deeds – Identify the evidences.

    Find a reputable lawyer in Cyprus AND take them to courts, bring them to justice with your documentation. If you are not justified

    Visiting a political party in Cyprus and explaining your problem could also have the MP’s to write to these Departments asking for explanations, could also sort out the delay. A trustee Cypriot friend could also help you explain to them your problem. Make sure you book an appointment with an MP and be accompanied by your friend/relative.

    2. If still, you are not justified in courts, which is very unusual for Cypriot standards, then you could always get the attention of the media in Cyprus.I would advise you to visit:

    http://www.sigmatv.com/elita

    3. Final resort protest, and have this sent to the Cypriot parliament.

    4. Find an MP in your area, and send this to a higher court. Bring them to justice.

  • Peter says:

    @Cypriot_Dude, .. Being honest I really don’t care about the North-South divide, I treat people how I find them.

    Problem is Cyprus should not be in the EU until it can sort out this mess with title deeds. As for refugees – I found myself at London Heathrow Airport in the 60’s as a refugee, we lost our farm in East Africa, our neighbour also lost their farm and went to live in Rhodesia with their daughter and her husband, they were to lose their home again in the 90’s.

    All the British forefathers would have once owned land which was taken from them by the Crown and given to Land Barons. Today many villages in Scotland stand empty because sheep were worth more than people. Thousands were displaced, many moving to Ireland.

    Problem with the title deed scenario is it used as ‘pay back’ against the British and its time the Government admitted this, but of course it needs the British tourists and their money.

  • Unbelievable says:

    @Nigel – sorry Nigel but I don’t entirely agree with your ‘honest lawyer’ statement.

    An honest lawyer with moral values would not keep his client waiting eleven years. After which they will probably lose their case.

    I’m afraid the Cypriot ‘under world’ have a strong hold over all Cypriots and will usually ‘make them an offer they can’t refuse’

    Honest Lawyers – do as they are told !

    You get my point?

  • @Cypriot Dude – Thanks for your comments

    There are honest lawyers here. But there is another problem concerning the amount of time (and cost) it takes to get justice.

    Conor O’Dwyer, for example, has been trying to get justice for five years.

    The Beaumont & Sims case took eleven years to resolve.

    Many people, particularly those who retire here and live on their pensions, do not have the stomach or the finances to pursue developers, lawyers, etc through the courts.

    I know that Cypriots also run into problems with the justice system. Some have taken action against Cyprus through the EU Court of Human Rights after 20 years of getting nowhere in Cyprus.

  • Cypriot_Dude says:

    Dear All,

    I do empathise with our British friends that are not familiar with the Cyprus system and that can often lead to them being tricked by criminals.

    If you have bought a property in Cyprus and you were not given title deeds then I do understand it is terrible and these developers are criminals.

    We are in the EU so there is nothing to be scared of. If you are correct and the property belongs to you will be justified period.

    A good start is to get a good lawyer. I’m sure there are honest people out there. Find a good lawyer and you will be justified in court. If you are not satisfied with the answer and you are not justified, it is not the END.

    If the developer did act in a way to claim the mortgage in effect of the legislation system, then be ensured that these people will be brought to justice.

    Cyprus is an EU country of high merits and is taking the presidency in 2012 and be assured that a lot will change for better.

    Please also register with a reputable political party in Cyprus. MP’s are here to help citizens, and be assured that you will not lose your title deeds and the developers will not get away even if they mortgaged the property. As long as you can prove it you will be justified.

    I’d do the same,

    If Cyprus courts are not of any help you can then submit this to the European Courts. There are many parties in Cyprus willing to help you. Cyprus will be in presidency of the E.U in 2012.

    And please be aware that there is only one Cyprus and the terms Southern and Northern Cyprus are incorrect. “ROC” is also wrong, since “Cyprus” refers to the Republic of Cyprus and that is the only government in the island.

    The occupied areas are unfortunately controlled by criminal/terrorist groups of the illegal invasion of 1974. Similar to 9/11

    Please also be aware that criminals do use the internet to increase tension, but also in attempt to differentiate Cyprus by “RoC” or any other misused terms. As long as you are in a territory controlled by British / Cypriots you are safe.

  • U Boat says:

    They Dont Care about us !!

  • Frank says:

    @ Nigel

    You quite rightly say: “The law here is full of loopholes through which anyone with an ounce of intelligence could drive a coach & horses through.” Sadly, that ounce of intelligence can be readily replaced by an utter absence of honesty, decency or integrity; plus apparently unlimited amounts of amorality.

    Perhaps the coach and horses metaphor should be replaced by rats in a maze.

  • Martyn says:

    Meantime the Cyprus property markets sink lower and lower – in value, in the island’s earning capacities as well as in Reputation.

    “Fiddling whilst Rome burns” comes to mind.

  • @Peter – I agree with you entirely. There is absolutely no need to tie a property’s title with planning regulations.

    When I bought my last house in the UK, my lawyer did a plan search (as they are required to do in the UK). Although an extension built onto the house by the previous owners had planning permission, it did not have the consent of the developer that built it.

    (There was a caveat requiring the developer’s consent in the original contract).

    A letter to the developer, Laing Homes, and the problem was sorted within a week.

    My lawyer said that we could have gone ahead and bought without Laing Homes permission, but he wanted to ensure our interests were protected.

    I took his advice.

  • Peter says:

    There is no need for the sale of the land to be tied to the building of a house. In the UK if I buy land the sale is immediate. If there is a house on the land without planning permission that is a separate issue. In Cyprus the two are connected and a default in the house (ie: lack of a permit) prevents the transfer of the land taking place. Why are the two ever connected?

    And yes @Unbelievable – I agree with what you say, but the sale of a new villa equals a new fridge, a new washing machine and other white goods, the sale of light fittings, the sale of fabrics for curtains and beds. These shops rely on the trade in new homes, this is where their customers come from. Just look at the empty shops now and ask how long they will last?

  • andyp says:

    Exactly so Nigel.

    Therefore if there is to be a change in Title deed legislation, and in this regard I will not hold my breath, every single aspect of the system must be reviewed to protect the buyer as an unscrupulous vendor WILL take advantage.

  • @andyp – no, it isn’t.

    In the UK, a Land Registry search results in a temporary 30 day charge being placed on the title that prevents other charges (including mortgages) being registered.

    If the solicitor who carried out the search requires the charge to be extended, they request the Land Registry to extend it for another 30 days.

    You can read about this in the Land Registry Practice Guide

    I have heard from a number of people whose lawyers have carried out searches in Cyprus and found nothing that a mortgage has been lodged between the time a search was carried out and the time their contract was lodged.

    The law here is full of loopholes through which anyone with an ounce of intelligence could drive a coach & horses through.

    When I bought my land, I went to the Land Registry with my lawyer to deposit my contract. The Land Registry clerk made a declaration then and there that there were no charges lodged against the title. But that was 20 years ago.

  • andyp says:

    I would like to point out that there is a time gap between the signing of your contract and the contract being registered. This time gap can be extended by, in my case, lets just say not the best solicitor.

    During this period the developer, previous owner could register a mortgage on the property ahead of your contract being registered.

    This happened to me and I am sure I am not alone.

    This being the case is buying a titled property in Cyprus any safer?

  • Alan Waring says:

    @Unbelievable. You may well be right that some native Cypriots (not the whole population) don’t ‘give a stuff’ about foreign buyers. But they can’t have it both ways.

    A leading developer was telling me recently that fairly obviously no sizeable developer can survive on local sales alone and foreign buyers are an imperative. He agreed that in order to keep foreign buyers coming requires them to feel full trust and confidence in all aspects of the market.

    As there is no obvious attempt by developers or the authorities to curb intimidation, double selling fraud, withheld Title Deeds,etc, presumably those developers who engage in such activities believe this to be a viable marketing strategy. Does anyone other than them imagine it will succeed?

  • Unbelievable says:

    Nigel and everyone else out there…

    You say Cyprus has a ‘very strange marketing strategy’ and they also have a very bad attitude!

    The truth is, most of the 800,000 Cypriot people on the island, have;

    No Mortgage
    A plot of Land
    Two jobs
    Money in the Bank

    They don’t give a stuff about you or anyone else!

    OPEN YOUR EYES and take a closer look..

  • Peter says:

    With Cyprus due to take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of next year can we not arrange a demonstration outside the Presidential Palace to welcome in the new term of office. I’m sure 100,000 people asking where their title deeds are will shed some light on the subject?

    I know CPAG arranged some outings, but they appear to have fallen by the wayside. Is there someone else who is willing to take up the baton?

  • @Alan – The ‘Homes from Hell’ series is due to be screened in the summer. I do not think the dates have been finalised.

    The BBC has also been filming here about a British developer, Adrian Mills, who fled the Island with an estimated £2.5 million. Part of that story has already been screened, but there is more to come.

    As you say it is a very strange marketing strategy. It’s almost as if they haven’t thought through the consequences of their actions. The recent announcement where buyers will be given the opportunity to repay their developer’s mortgage is a case in point. Do they really believe that ‘concession’ will encourage people to buy here? As I said earlier, it’s sheer lunacy.

  • Alan Waring says:

    Thanks Nigel. Can you tell us any more details of the forthcoming UK TV progs? I understood that there was ITV plus at least one other.

    BTW, even I have been taken aback by the sheer scale of adverse comment against the Cyprus ‘system’ on the Cyprus Mail’s blog re the Conor O’Dwyer case. Summing it all up, the outcome at first glance looks like ‘national commercial suicide’ until you realise that the property ‘establishment’ here including the government just does not recognize right from wrong and the market consequences of terrorizing customers, whether physically, financially, psychologically or legally. A very strange marketing strategy, especially towards foreign buyers and investors who are not compelled to buy in Cyprus.

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