IN response to the recent complaints about the Planning Department in Limassol, I can assure you the same fleecing occurs in Paphos.
In February 2003, we bought a Paphos flat with a purchase price of €123,000. The contract was filed by our lawyer in March 2003. In July 2010, the developer advised us our Title Deeds were now available for purchase.
Because we live in Canada, and would not be back in Cyprus until January 2011, we gave our Paphos-based lawyer power of attorney and the necessary funds to complete the land transfer. When he went to Paphos’ Land Registry Office (LRO), he was told the LRO had increased the value of our flat to €185,000 – a 50 per cent increase.
We would now be required to pay property transfer fees amounting to €5,833.64, rather than the €3,690.58 that would have been charged based on our purchase price.
When we questioned this unwarranted increase, our lawyer informed us that the valuation was ultimately at the LRO’s discretion and we could either simply pay the new amount or do so with an objection. The LRO could decline our objection and also set an even higher value for the property.
We sent the additional funds, but with a proviso that an objection be lodged. However, our lawyer signed off on the LRO valuation without filing an objection. His reasoning being that he was presented with information that other flats in our development had been sold in the same time period as our purchase at prices considerably higher, and the valuation placed on our flat was the best he could obtain.
When we arrived in January 2011, we expressed disbelief that we were able to buy our flat for one third less than the price paid by others in the same project and in the same time period. After two unsatisfactory LRO visits, we urged our lawyer to get more clarification on the assessed value. The LRO gave him information specific to nine flats in our project which, according to them, sold at prices per sq. metre which justified their valuation of our flat.
We contacted the owners of three of these nine flats listed by the LRO.
- Flat no. 17 (126 sq. metres) was purchased for €1,234 per sq. metre. The LRO list showed the price as €1,796 per sq. metre – an increase of 46 per cent.
- Flat no. 16 (73 sq. metres) was purchased for €1,123 per sq metre. The LRO list showed the price as €1,765 per sq. metre – an increase of 57 per cent.
- Flat no. 6 (92 sq. metres) was purchased for €1,281 per sq metre. The LRO list showed the price as €1,831 per sq. metre – an increase of 43 per cent.
These three examples demonstrate that the LRO has fabricated information in order to fleece buyers like ourselves. This abuse can only bring the whole system into disrepute, and foster cynicism and distrust of government regulations and practices. It would be interesting to know whether this practice affects only properties purchased by foreign passport holders.