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Working together to end title deed scam

Britain’s 72 MEPs have been asked to put aside their political allegiances and work together on behalf of British property buyers in Cyprus who have been left without title deeds to their homes.

REPRESENTATIVES of over 50,000 British buyers of Cypriot properties, who have yet to receive their title deeds from the property developers and are thus not the legal owners of their homes, want MEPs to campaign on their behalf to end this scandal.

The scam is that developers fail to inform potential buyers that the title deeds for their homes will be withheld for an unspecified time and that the land on which their property is built has only been mortgaged by the developer.

The consequences for buyers are that they are liable to high property charges, burdened with huge legal fees and unable to sell the property.

But what is worse is that if the developer goes bankrupt, they will lose their home despite having paid in full for it. This is because the title deeds and full legal ownership cannot be transferred to buyers until the developer has settled his mortgage on the land in full.

Given the worsening economic outlook for Cyprus and its property industry, the risk of developer default and the repossession of these homes can only become much greater. The developer debt has doubled in size in the last three years and now stands at nearly six billion Euros.

The MEPs have been asked to jointly sign letters to the European Commission and the British Government as well as the Consumer Protection Service, the agency that enforces the European Union’s Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices law. In their letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, the MEPs request immediate action.

They wrote:

“The undersigned trust that you will agree that British citizens need to be afforded more consumer protection against the unfair practices of Cypriot developers.

“We therefore respectfully urge you to ensure that the Office of Fair Trading’s priorities include investigating the illegal practices of Cypriot developers as soon as possible, including taking the appropriate measures to ensure adequate consumer protection.

“We have written to the Chief Executive of the OFT and the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills with the same request. It is important to remember that EU member states could be liable to pay damages to individuals who have been adversely affected by the non-implementation of an EU Directive. We can confirm that the European Commission is now referring British buyers who complain directly to them to the OFT.

“Finally, we would urge that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office website is updated to strengthen the warning to prospective buyers of the potential pitfalls of buying property directly from Cypriot developers.”

Nick Griffin MEP was very pleased to be able to put his name to the letters. Mr Griffin told our News Team:

“I have been actively involved in a campaign to highlight the plight of the many thousands of ex-pat property owners in Spain whose homes have been effectively confiscated by the Spanish Government. I am, therefore, well aware of the difficulties faced by individuals struggling to gain a fair outcome in the face of systematic collusion between the authorities, property developers and the legal profession.

“I am happy to support the campaign to win justice for the many constituents similarly affected by the organised deception of Cypriot property developers, lawyers and bankers.”

Readers' comments

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  • dimitri says:

    @Colin, good point on lack of staff but it is a vicious circle as the government here has pledged to freeze pay rises for public servants and also cut employing more public servants in an attempt to trim it’s budget…..damned if they do damned if they don’t, hopefully Nigel will root out what the the planning amnesty laws mean for those that are trapped by developer mortgages, interior minister Sylikiotis mentioned deeds acquisition being made easier for persons living on a large apartment block and the developer holding the deeds, no mention was made by him of what happens if the bank holds the deeds to the land the apartments are built on…..and developer is failing/cant pay bank to release deeds…..

  • Colin Brightwell says:

    Whilst there have been instances of Cypriot developers breaking the law, an even bigger problem exists with the Cypriot Land Registry. They appear to be understaffed. Throw in the Cypriot legal profession whose services are limited to form filling and it does not take a brain surgeon to work out that the whole system is in chaos.

    Bearing in mind that the Cyprus Government is being deprived of millions of Euros of tax that would become payable if title deeds were issued properly and the damage that has been done to Cyprus’ reputation, you would think that someone, somewhere would realise this and do something about it … wouldn’t you?

  • dimitri says:

    Also Sylikitos mentioned that leaflets to explain the new planning amnesty procedure would be put posted to all households nationwide.

  • dimitri says:

    @Andrew, thanks for that, again he was on the midday news going on and on with the closing a veranda example, he did mention the specific performance point, but somehow I don’t see how banks will release deeds they hold without getting their money back….I thought the news bills put the onus on buyers to pay off the developer debt if they wanted the deeds released….

  • Andrew says:

    @Dimitri. It appears the Minister does know about developer mortgages , but he now chooses (or is told) to avoid the subject.

    Nov 25 2008: Minister Sylikiotis said “It’s not just about delays in issuing the deeds, it also concerns issues of planning and mortgages to the banks.”

    Question To minister Sylikiotis 15 Nov 2009: But where does the problem of developers’ mortgages fit in? The laws create a right, but there are debts hiding behind that right.

    Answer: That is irrelevant. Under the special execution order process, if the buyer can prove he has paid what he was supposed to, the Title Deed can be issued, and let the bank solve its problem with the developer.

  • dimitri says:

    Perhaps they should corner Mr Sylikiotis, who on TV over the weekend said that the planning amnesty would help 100,000 home-owners and gave examples of those who have closed a veranda now having the option to pay for the extra covered area acquired and hence be allowed to acquire deeds, nothing is mentioned about the those stuck due to developer mortgages on land…..beginning to wonder what the truth is and I guess a herculean task in trying to find out true numbers….

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