IN THE third of a series of four articles on the Cyprus Interior Ministry’s bulletin outlining the key features of the recently approved planning amnesty bills, we look at the provisions of the Streets and Buildings Regulation (Amended) Law 2011.
The fourth and final article will contain the key features of the Immovable Property (Tenure, Registration and Valuation) (Amended) Law 2011.
The streets and buildings regulation law
- In those cases where a development consists of more than one units (e.g. apartment blocks, second-home complexes), it is now mandatory that an application for a building permit is submitted along with an application for the division of the property. Such an application for the division of the property shall specify all constituent parts (elements) of each unit (e.g. parking spaces, storage rooms, co-owned areas of the building, etc).
- For the first time, Building Authorities are empowered to issue a building permit even when certain differences of a small scale and significance exist, with respect to the planning permit granted. Such variations are defined in the legislation.
- The owner, as well as the supervising engineer appointed by the owner, are obliged to notify the Building Authority of the time when a building is completed or put into effective use. In addition, both parties have the responsibility to inform the Authority of any differences in the building, as it was completed, as compared to the permit issued.
- The Building Authority is empowered to impose administrative fines on owners who fail or are unwilling to apply for a certificate of approval or to legalise the building.
- The Building Authority may issue a certificate of approval, even if a planning permit or a building permit has expired. The certificate of approval has the effect of a building permit.
- A certificate of approval may be issued without any notes or with notes concerning irregularities in the building or part of the building. Such a certificate of approval, with or without notes, may even be issued for part of the development, provided that this part can function properly and independently.
- In cases of irregularities of a very severe nature, the Building Authority is empowered to issue a certificate of unauthorised works, requiring the Department of Lands and Surveys to register a note on the title, prohibiting the transfer of the property to another person.
- Temporary provisions allow the legalising of irregularities of a certain scale and significance that existed on April 8, 2011, on existing buildings. The definition of the term «existing building» is given in the law.
- Temporary provisions of article 10D of the Streets and Buildings Regulation Law do not apply in cases of irregularities in tourist developments, industrial (heavy or light) or multi-purpose/ commercial developments.
- The scale and significance of the irregularities that can be legalised are defined by the provisions of the law. Not any irregularity, irrespective of its scale, can be legalised.
- Specifically, the temporary provisions of the law can apply where the approved covered area is not exceeded by more than 10%, provided that half of the area in excess relates to alterations executed within the shell of the building.
- An application, under the temporary provisions of the Law, can be submitted either by the holder of the original permit, or by any other person with a vested interest with respect to the development. The process can be activated by the Building Authority, without any application being submitted by any interested party.
- A prerequisite for applying for the legalisation of irregularities in a building is that the possession, use and enjoyment of individual units (in building complexes or apartment blocks) are fully secured, and that there is no significant adverse effect on the amenities of surrounding properties and uses.
- The Law defines obligations regarding the notification of applications for the legalisation of irregularities. It also enables neighbours to submit their views or objections with respect to the application, and requires the Building Authority to publish relevant decisions.
- Applications, under the temporary provisions of the law, are submitted to the Building Authority, which prepares a comprehensive report to be submitted for consideration and decision to the three-member Committee. In cases of developments consisting of a number of units (second-home developments or apartment blocks), it is preferable that applications are submitted jointly by as many co-owners (or purchasers) of the property as possible, so that procedures could be sped up.
- The Law defines a six-month period from April 8, 2011 within which the owner or the purchaser of a building with irregularities must submit a statement of intent for legalising irregularities in the property.
- Any person not submitting a statement of intent within the specified period will not have the right to make use of the provisions of the Legislation.
- The Law defines a fixed three-year period for the submission of applications making use of the provisions of the Legislation, only where a statement of intent has already been submitted in time or where the application itself (rather than a statement of intent) has been submitted within the specified six-month period.
- If the approved surface of a building or unit in a building (e.g. apartment or second home) is exceeded, a compensation levy will be imposed on the owner or purchaser, which will be equivalent to the market value of the area in excess. These values will be determined on the basis of general estimates carried out by the Department of Land and Surveys that will be published by an Order of the Minister of the Interior. It is also possible that these values are compensated through the transfer of development rights from listed buildings or other private property.
- A 20% discount on the compensation levy is set for all applications submitted within the first year period, and a 10% discount for applications submitted within the second year of the implementation of the provisions of the law. This arrangement will serve as an incentive for early submissions. No discount will be granted for applications submitted within the third year period.
- All compensation levies will be managed by the Local Authorities and used for projects for the upgrading of the environment in their administrative area.
- In certain cases, additional compensation levies or charges may be imposed, so that any adverse effects caused by the development permitted may be mitigated.
The contents of this Bulletin do not in any way replace texts of the Town and Country (Amended) Law 2011, the Streets and Buildings Regulation (Amended) Law 2011 and the Immovable Property (Tenure, Registration and Valuation) (Amended) Law 2011. In case of contradiction between the contents of the Bulletin and these Laws, legislation takes precedence over this text.