THE risks faced by property buyers, especially foreigners, in Cyprus are now legendary. The backlog of 130,000 properties still awaiting their Title Deeds (some for as long as 20 years or more) includes some 30,000 bought by foreigners.
In addition to the Title Deeds delays, a significant number of buyers also allege that they have been defrauded either by their developer and/or their lawyer. ‘Double selling’ fraud is the most frequent complaint.
Unfortunately, redress is proving most difficult to obtain as, uniquely for a country that claims to follow English law and precedents, the Attorney General has declared that property fraud in Cyprus is a civil rather than a criminal offence and does not warrant an automatic police investigation. Aggrieved buyers are therefore forced to take out long-winded civil actions or private prosecutions and judges are proving reluctant to find in favour of plaintiffs.
With such a minefield for buyers to contend with, the recently published ‘Buying Property in Cyprus – Golden Commandments‘ by Nigel Howarth is timely and on-target for overseas buyers thinking of buying a property in Cyprus. Nigel Howarth has lived in Cyprus for many years and runs the highly popular Cyprus Property Buyers and Cyprus Property News websites.
The 32-page book contains a wealth of well-structured advice and guidance based on his immense knowledge and experience. Topics covered include the intricacies of buying a new property, especially off plan, the potential tricks and traps and how to avoid them.
Other sections cover buying a re-sale property, buying as an investment and financing a purchase.
The section on Title Deeds is especially illuminating – and sobering – for the unwary. Nigel Howarth rightly points out that while successive Interior Ministers have promised much to correct the Title Deeds scandal, thus far little has emerged in practice.
The book is not (and does not claim to be) a complete answer to all questions and risks concerning buying property in Cyprus. For example, it does not mention the five Bills currently being examined by Parliament which the Interior Minister claims will correct the Title Deeds problem once and for all. This claim is, in any event, highly contentious and many believe that the Bills are ill-conceived and unworkable. The book also does not mention the fact that the Cyprus government does not appear to have implemented the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive in respect of immovable property and, at one stage, were denying that the Directive applied to immovable property.
All in all, the book is an essential reference for anyone wishing to avoid unnecessary heartache and financial loss as a buyer of property in Cyprus.
About the author
Dr Alan Waring is an international risk management consultant with extensive experience in Europe, Asia and the Middle East with industrial, commercial and governmental clients. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Risk Management and is a founding member of the IRM Cyprus Regional Group. Contact via Dr Alan Waring & Associates.
The e-book ‘Buying Property in Cyprus – Golden Commandments’ is available free of charge in our Publications section.