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Trapped buyers bill changes approved

The revised ‘trapped buyers’ bill designed to overcome the problems of the current law has been approved unanimously by MPs, but legal services have doubts that constitutional difficulties could not be resolved.

Trapped buyers bill changes approved MPs UNANIMOUSLY approved amendments seeking to improve a 2015 law that aimed to resolve the ‘trapped buyers’ issue, where thousands of property buyers were left stranded without a Title Deed despite having paid for the property.

In 2015, parliament passed a law aimed at helping thousands of trapped buyers who had paid for their properties in full but had not been issued with their Title Deeds because the developers had their own mortgages on the properties, which they failed to repay.

Since developers’ land and buildings are counted as assets that need to be offset against their debt to banks, this gave banks a claim on properties that had been mortgaged by developers.

The head of the land registry had been granted the authority to exempt, eliminate, transfer and cancel mortgages and or other encumbrances, depending on the case and under certain conditions, as the state sought to sort out the Title Deed mess.

However, banks contested the trapped buyers law and won rulings at district court level stating it was unconstitutional. Courts said it violated Article 26 of the constitution, which affords individuals the right to enter freely into any contract.

The matter is before the Supreme Court, which will have the final say.

The amendments seek to ensure the involvement in the process of all three parties – buyer, lender, and seller – and affords the capacity of filing a substantiated objection and securing a court order within a defined timeframe to stop the transfer.

The state legal service had expressed reservations on the matter, arguing that as long as the land registry director’s authority to remove encumbrances remained, the constitutional snags could not be resolved.

House President Demetris Syllouris said he too was a trapped buyer and informed MPs that in two visits to the UK, British MPs had raised the issue.

Akel MP Aristos Damianou said thousands of Cypriots and foreign nationals found themselves in a difficult position, remaining without a Title Deed to the property they had fully paid without it being their fault.

The land registry said some 30,000 people were affected.

“We are affording the land registry a new opportunity to tackle legal obstacles set by the banks in the process,” Damianou said.

Despite the problems, around 6,500 people managed to secure a title under the 2015 law.

Readers' comments

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  • Keith Allen says:

    Why is it that solicitors have not been brought to court for NOT highlighting the fact that the land or the property have outstanding securities registered against them and that the clear title IS NOT AVAILABLE for sale. Surely this a failure of the duty that they are being paid for.
    Are they above the law ???

    Ed: Regrettably, many of the lawyers believe they ARE the law. Furthermore, unlike the UK’s Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA), the Cyprus Bar Association’s Disciplinary Committee is not independent. (You can read into that whatever you wish.)

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Of course the Cypriot elite parasites could have just as easily adopted one of the many off the peg conveyancing systems that have been operational in most European countries for a century.

    You know, the ones where a legal title deed is issued at the point of sale or transfer of a property?

    But, that would be far too simple, because it would stop the scams in their tracks at a stroke, plus reduce their parasitic lawyer relatives and mates ripping everyone off.

    Everyone knows that this is the really permanent solution, so every time the parasite’s don’t do what is obvious to everyone else, it just shows that their vested interests remain in the current crooked and corrupt dysfunctional system.

  • Joanne says:

    Hi. I thought it said that if you have paid in full and fulfilled all your obligations the deeds will be given with NO LEGAL OBSTACLES. Is this not the case or are they going to change it again.

    Ed: It’s arguable that planning infringements are not legal obstacles. As things stand at the moment those who get deeds with notes due to planning infringements have to pay for the work necessary to correct them and then sue the developer to recover their money. This is totally unsatisfactory.

  • Val P Glynn says:

    Well, have they solved it or haven’t they? People who have paid, are they going to get their title deeds?

    Ed: We’ll have to wait and see. I know that people have taken cases to the European Court of Justice, and I’m fairly confident they’ll be successful. But I can’t say how long it’s going to take. (It’s also gone to the Supreme Court for a ruling.)

  • Steven Kimberley says:

    How will this amendment help where properties have no final approval certificate, due to developers failing to comply with building and planning permits, and where consequently, no separate title deeds exist for their property??

    Ed: As far as I am aware, the new law doesn’t address the problem where developers fail to comply with their building permits. (In the UK Section 52 of the 1971 Town and Country Planning Act enables developers to be fined if their fail to comply.) In Cyprus, as far as I’m aware, there is isn’t similar legislation.

  • Irena ioannou says:

    It is stou unclear, I am a trapped house buyer paid in full and have not been able to obtain my title deeds as the developer owed money to the bank and went bankrupt. Does the new law cover me. This matter is causing me grave stress and concern since 2015 as the receivers of the bank threatened to sell my house . With this new act am I secure or does it need to. E passed by the Supreme Court ?
    Would appreciate your prompt reply.

    Ed: We’ll have to wait and see what the law actually says. I expect it will be published on the cylaw.org website in the next week or two.

  • The views expressed in readers' comments are not necessarily shared by the Cyprus Property News.

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