ALTHOUGH amendments to the Trapped Buyers law may help those deceived into buying property built on land that its developer had earlier mortgaged to the bank to get their Title Deeds, planning infringements remain a serious problem.
Planning infringements are shown on Title Deeds as notes of unauthorised works and indicate that the developer has failed to comply the conditions set out in the planning and building permits authorised for the development’s construction.
These planning infringements must be corrected before the ‘notes’ can be removed and a ‘clean’ Title Deed issued.
And herein lies the gross injustice. The developer responsible for causing the planning infringements gets off scot-free – and it’s left to the property buyer to pay for any remedial work and then sue the developer to recover their money!
Furthermore, some notes require remedial work to be carried out before the purchaser, who now owns the property, can use it as collateral for a loan or sell it on the open market.
A double whammy! (four actually):
- A property with notes cannot be sold and therefore has no market value.
- The victim is required to pay Property Transfer Fees on its market value as assessed by the Land Registry, despite the fact that the property has no market value.
- The victim (the purchaser) has to pay for the indiscretions of the cowboy builder (developer) in order to make the property saleable.
- To recover the cost of the remedial work, the victim has to sue the ‘criminal’.
The simplest solution to this gross injustice is for the planning authority to impose fines on the ‘criminal’ sufficient to pay for the remedial work required to remove the ‘note’ from the deed, plus a further amount to dissuade the ‘crook’ from repeating his misdemeanours.
Planning infringements come in all shapes and sizes:
- Failure to complete roads, pavements and green areas, build boundary walls too high, etc. Note that developers make no money for building roads, etc.; costs are included in the price that buyers pays.
- Failure to install fire doors, signage, etc. as required by the Fire Service.
- In other cases, developers overbuild; building more properties on the site than permitted by their permits or building them larger to maximise their sales revenue.
- Installing septic tanks and absorption pits rather than biological systems to deal with waste water.
The list is endless!
It goes without saying that buying a property in Cyprus without a ‘clean’ Title Deed is a big mistake.