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Title Deed legislation will destroy property market

Rather than resolving the Cyprus Title Deeds-cum-fraud mess, the proposed legislation will destroy what vestiges of confidence remain in the Island’s overseas property market and will possibly result in its collapse.

property market collapse ALTHOUGH full details of the proposed legal amendments to Cyprus’ archaic property laws have yet to emerge, one thing is becoming clear; they will not restore investor confidence. Indeed they could well lead to the destruction of the overseas property market.

From the details that have appeared over the past few weeks, property developers will not be held to account for their actions, it will be left to those who have bought property to pay for their developer’s misdemeanours.

Developer mortgages

FIRSTLY, there is the proposed legislation concerning developer mortgages that was announced last month.

People who have been mislead and/or deceived into buying property built on land that the developer had previously mortgaged can get their Title Deeds by repaying the developers debt.

So in addition to paying for their house, they will need to repay the developer’s mortgage.

They will also require legal assistance to obtain a court order instructing the Land Registry to register title to the property to their name.

If buyers consider that their lawyer acted negligently, they can sue him/her. (Readers may recall that it took British couple Muriel Beaumont and Clifford Sims eleven years to sue their Paphos lawyer Nicos Papacleovoulou for negligence).

Planning infringements

YESTERDAY, details emerged on how the new laws propose to address planning infringements.

Once again, developers will not be held to account for their actions. And once again those who have bought property will have to pay to have any planning infringements caused by their developer regularised.

Buyers may then sue their developer to recover their costs. This will involve legal costs and expenses and cases may drag on for many years without any guarantee of a successful outcome.

MP George Perdikis suggested an obvious and fair solution; fining developers who were responsible for planning irregularities. However, his suggestion was rejected by the Town Planning Department.

Conclusion

THESE new laws have clearly been drawn up to suit the needs of developers, banks and lawyers; very little (if any) added protection will be afforded to those buying property.

These changes will add a further layer of bureaucracy to a process that is no longer fit for purpose, adding to the length of it takes to issue Title Deeds. Furthermore, as the existing laws are rarely enforced there is no guarantee that these ‘new’ laws will have any effect.

One thing is obvious, developers will not be held accountable for the actions; indeed these changes will encourage more developers to act nefariously safe in the knowledge that they will be acting within the law.

Calling on the victims of crime to pay for the misdemeanours of their developers and lawyers will destroy what vestiges of confidence remain in the Island’s overseas property market and will possibly result in its collapse.

Readers' comments

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  • Andrew says:

    @Odd-Cassandra. Hy Bazil may well have gone under. The great European civilisation usually invents a war when things get really tough. Then people run and scatter.

    On the face of it though it does appear to have earlier by private Fraser. “We`re doomed”.

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    Andrew, I agree on all counts. However, you said, “The citizens of (x, y, z countries)”. Can you see where this clearly differs from our situation here in Hy Brazil?

    There is also a theory with regards to what the catalyst, as well as a huge common denominator has been, in these fed-up and leaning towards Islamic extremism general populations, completely dominated by elitist, western-leaning minority dictatorships, sponsored and propped up by THE AMERICANS, but that’s another story for another day…

    WE (expats, mostly Western ones) are NOT citizens of Hy Brazil. Can you hear the outraged, protesting screams of indignation and calls for justice from the actual citizens here?

    No, nor can I…

    Anyway, watch this clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYJp8bEXy-s (of related relevance that you may have seen before). The last words of the Financial Adviser is where we are. There are not sufficient lifeboats for everyone, some will put full faith in “our safety procedures”, some will refuse to believe all the evidence stacked up before their eyes (have you read the latest Conor O’Dwyer thread – you couldn’t make it up?!). Those in the lifeboats first will suffer least, those not will suffer most. Or maybe a Viking longship WILL come to rescue us…

    Should I change my name to Cassandra? No, maybe not, far too many connotations…

  • Andrew says:

    @Odd-Job-Bob. The citizens of Tunisia ,Egypt , Bahrain, Yemen, etc, did not sell and run away!.

    Sometimes you have to stand for justice and defend your rights.

  • andyp says:

    @JJhL. No Alyn did not get a reply. I asked Laura last week.

    Like the clip Bob.

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    Sorry to be a bit of a Cassandra but the only solution is: sell. Everything. Right now. Get whatever price you can for it (from someone who either hasn’t done his research or believes that setting up a distressed Cyprus property fund like some chaps have done in Florida http://www.property-abroad.com/america/listing/PA323-orlando will make them fortunes), lick your wounds, put it down to experience etc. and get the h#ll out of Dodge.

    Why are you still reading? STOP READING AND START SELLING!

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @OJB. “There really seems to be only one realistic option and we all know what it is…” Sorry, but I don’t know. Go on, gis us a clue. Do you mean wait for a passing Viking ship as per your brilliant video link, or perhaps a Royal Navy vessel to rescue us??

  • @Odd_Job_Bob – love the video. Are you sure that the name of that island is Hy Brasil? :-)

  • Ken Clarke says:

    The proposed legislation effectively makes one individual (the buyer) responsible for the debts of a third party (the developer)

    Consumer protection is a basic principle of EU law and the new law could well breach EU Consumer Protection Directives.

    Much time has been spent trying to find a compromise solution to the Title Deed problem with so called; interested parties but unless the interest of the consumer (buyer) is put at the top of the list the overseas housing market will not recover.

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    Anyway, I talk too much. This brilliant bit from Erik the Viking captures the situation better than words ever could…

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    I understand that this issue is hugely emotive, especially if you’ve got money tied up in Cyprus property, but we should try to be as dispassionate as possible if we are to try to arrive at the best possible outcome. So:

    1) The Cyprus government, lawyers, judiciary are NOT stupid. They have seen loopholes in their (self-created) laws and are simply exploiting them. Property sales to expats has provided them with so much money and much has been borrowed against present and future construction that they will do all they can to protect their very, very precarious positions

    2) The expats who bought are NOT stupid. True, they used UK standards when buying in Cyprus which simply do not apply here and did not research the local “differences” enough before parting with loads of money. A more accurate description would be possibly “credulous”

    3) The EU needs Cyprus more than Cyprus needs it. The EU is taking a financial battering and is breaking its own rules in order to keep countries in it (debt to GDP, budget deficit ratios etc). Some may argue that it was its lax application of the Maastricht conditions that led to so many financially unsound countries being allowed to sign up in the first place (did you read that Cyprus has been taken off the “countries in dangered” list by the Eu as it deems the measures taken by the Cyprus government are sufficient to reduce the budget deficit. Did anyone believe that?) The EU will not do anything

    4) All the questions in the house in the UK, in Cyprus, hey even in the EU parliament will have NO effect. Ever.

    5) No property developer who may have been a bit naughty (double sold, had a big fat undisclosed mortgage on property sold, built without planning permission, not paid his taxes, defaulted on his mortgage etc) will never need to seek a solution as the clear message from the government is “You don’t have to, the credulous expats will bail you out”

    So, what to do? Hope for change before the bank repossesses your property? They say a definition of madness is keep on doing the same thing but expecting a different outcome. Going to court seems like expecting to be awarded a penalty as the away team at Old Trafford. There really seems to be only one realistic option and we all know what it is…

  • andyp says:

    Everything else has failed so perhaps we need the headline to become reality.

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    Nigel

    Did Alwyn Smith MEP ever get a reply from the president ?

    Or did he get the same treatment so many get writing to the Cypriot authorities.

  • Andrew says:

    @Terry. Sadly very many people trusted lawyers, who they paid dearly, to act on their behalf.

    Lawyers who attained their qualifications at UK Universities. Lawyers who claim that the Cyprus legal system is based on UK law. Lawyers registered with the Cyprus Bar Association.

    Lawyers who fail to inform their clients that a prior mortgage existed on the land that they were about to buy.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @John Swift. Thanks for confirming that the forum controllers you mentioned had vested commercial interests in denying that a Title Deeds scandal exists.

  • John Swift says:

    Denton I’m quite happy for you to contact me via email, what I wrote I stand by, the main problem in the recent past until it could no longer be brushed under the carpet was that people only looked at the situation through Cyprus coloured glasses.

    My wife and I were pretty much in that same boat until we had the sense to come and try on a 6 month trial run.

    When we returned home we told it as we found it especially the property issues and I was consequently banned from a certain forum, what you found was that some had vested interests especially in the property market where they either work for, have relative by marriage linked to developers/estate agents.

    I would be back in Cyprus tomorrow but some things would have to change first.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @John Swift. Go on, gis a clue! I for one was not aware of a forum being so bold as to assert that the TD issue was nonsense and could not even be discussed!! Sounds like a developer’s stooge to me.

  • John Swift says:

    This may be the current proposal but I can’t see the EU letting it happen this way.

    I would never have bought without title deeds but when you have a certain forum owner regularly banning the discussion of the issue regarding title deeds and assuring members that there was no risk in buying property without receiving the title deeds what can you expect.

    Even on Paphos People forum you are not allowed to criticise this other forum owner who regularly clamped down on “That Old Chestnut Again”.

    The chickens have come home to roost, I wonder what he tells members now.

  • Alan Waring says:

    I regret that I do not expect any significant change in attitude or behaviour of the Cypriot developer-lawyer-agent-politician fraternity any time soon. They apparently cannot recognize what the rest of us do, namely that new foreign buyers have already fled and the 5 Bills will ensure absolutely that they stay away.

    This ‘perceptual’ or cognitive gap arises from a combination of their strong beliefs in past models of ‘success'(as they see it), a belief that their commercial practices are ‘normal’, and cognitive defences that ‘blot out’ inconvenient or unpalatable facts.

    For example, the judgement in the O’Dwyer v. Karayiannas fraud case suggests that ‘double selling’:

    Is not regarded as a reprehensible activity, much less fraud; it seems to be regarded as almost praiseworthy as no public admonishments are evident from ministers, AG, etc.
    Is regarded as normal and lawful commercial practice in Cyprus.
    Is not regarded as a criminal act, contrary to English law (of course not, as with a stroke of the pen the AG has removed property fraud allegations from criminal to civil jurisdiction!)
    Does not warrant police investigation at all, much less automatically as would be the case in all other countries claiming to follow English law.
    Is not regarded as a breach of the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    The Only way to make the Cypriot Authorities change there Artful Ways is the EU to use a big stick.

    My own suggestion is for MEPs to table a motion suspending the EU presidency from Cyprus until they can have in place a effective and applied judiciary and laws.

    It would also benefit the vast majority of Cypriots who suffer just as much from this small minority of corrupt crooked people.

  • @You Know Who – Details of these bills have been reported in the local media and elsewhere.

    You will also find the following text on Ionas Nicolaou’s website:

    “Τα νομοσχέδια προβλέπουν ότι στις περιπτώσεις αυτές, οι αγοραστές που παρέμεναν χωρίς τίτλο ιδιοκτησίας θα μπορούν να απεγκλωβιστούν καταβάλλοντας το ποσό της υποθήκης που τους αναλογεί απευθείας στον ενυπόθηκο δανειστή του πωλητή, δηλαδή το χρηματοπιστωτικό ίδρυμα.”

    (Ionas Nicolaou is the President of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the House of Representatives)

    Laws to regulate title deeds could be voted through by May

    Reports also come from the Cyprus News Agency, Simerini, Financial Mirror, Inbusiness, sigmalive and Philelephtheros

  • Richard says:

    And so again everyone – we need to mobilise action by contacting the Euro MP’s & simply state that a MEMBER STATE EU country cannot act in this manner & expect to get away with it.

    If it were in the UK – it would be on BBC Watchdog, Panorama etc and eventually the perpetrators of these actions would need to be swiftly bought into alignment.

    It’s not in the UK – but millions of people out there speak English – and Google NEVER forgets. A unified message out there – Cyprus is not acting fairly – will eventually attract the attention of the governments of those who have ‘invested’ in Cyprus (or should that read ‘victim of crime’).

    Trade sanctions against countries with oppressive and corrupt regimes have worked – and that was before the internet was popular.

    Egypt recently showed the world that mobilising the masses via the web can produce a successful & remarkable outcome.

    Bottom line fellow investors:

    We DON’T have to put up with this.
    We SHOULDN’T have to put up with this.
    We WON”T put up with this.

    Action needs to be taken – this is theft on a grand scale – and from some people who probably wouldn’t be alive today if the armed forces of Britain hadn’t come into Cyprus in the 1960’s and 1970’s to intervene in the troubles.

    Nice payback Cyprus – shame on you!

  • Paul says:

    This legislation, if passed, will totally destroy the property market in Cyprus and quite frankly so it should!

    But one has to ask ‘where is the EU in all of this’?

    This legislation must surely fly in the face of EU rules and regulations?

    Perhaps the time has now come for the EU to act and expel Cyprus? Perhaps then legislators in Cyprus will finally come to their senses!

  • Terry says:

    Dee says that “they insult our intelligence if they think that we can’t read between the lines of these new laws”.

    The problem is Dee, that hordes of British buyers couldn’t, or perhaps didn’t, read between the lines when they decided to buy in Cyprus. As had been said many times before, they appear to have left their brains on the aircraft seat at Larnaca airport. The Cyprus professional classes – I use that term with venom on my typing fingers – thought, and continue to think, that we are stupid.

    For reasons given above, this is why good laws exist – to protect the innocent and, dare I say, the foolish. In property at least, Cyprus law is useless and offers almost no protection to buyers.

  • Gerry Thompson says:

    What a joke!!!!

    I’m one unlucky person involved in the Cyprus property sham and wondered do these people have a brain?….I’m in my mid forties and would of been holidaying in Cyprus for the next 20 years at the cost of a least £1000 pear year (flights not included) then retire there for the rest of my life (pension money etc,) also my young family would follow suit one day. So I make that a lot of money per person that’s not going to the Cyprus government.

    They are truly stupid people in government.

    Just for the record I and my family and friends will never step on Cyprus soil again!

    Maybe this topic should be covered on the east Cyprus forum…would be interesting?

  • You Know Who says:

    What I would like to know is how you know this information. Have you just read something, made up your own mind and written this article or do you have genuine knowledge of this information?

  • tom says:

    When will they wake up to the fact that Cyprus property market is dead?

    OH it doesn’t matter because those involved in all the scams have made so much money over the last few years they need never work again, so do they care?

    I think not.

  • Dee says:

    I’m really angry; they insult our intelligence if they think we can’t read between the lines of these new ‘laws’.

  • Mike says:

    Business as usual then in the land of corruption, nepotism and deceit.

    Move over Nigeria, Somalia & Sierra Leone, we are the kings of corruption now and we have the laws to prove it.

  • Jim Robertson says:

    Surely this will destroy their fragile property market no one in their right minds would buy in Cyprus, who can you trust? The answer is simple, no-one.

  • chris says:

    The people involved in these decisions are no more than thieves with a third world mentality that befits the Banana Republic that Cyprus is. The best thing that can happen to them is Turkey taking over the entire island. Cyprus does not deserve their EU status and Turkish rulers could not be any worse than the criminals that do so at present.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Quite!

  • Peter says:

    We so need EU involvement in this area. Again and again it is shown that the Cypriot mind is so very child like, unable to see or understand what is up and what is down. And these are our educated leaders talking, just think how much the rest of the populace understand? The saying that you can take the peasant out of the field, but not the field out of the peasant.. is so true. They appear to have a floating idea of profanity and fairness somewhere below par.

  • Bob Briggs says:

    As far as I am concerned, these politicians & their mates are taking the p**s! R.B.

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