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Wednesday 30th September 2020
Home Articles Cyprus: How important is a Title Deed?

Cyprus: How important is a Title Deed?

The acquisition of a Title Deed is usually simple and straightforward, however, at times it can also involve a very complex and specialised process which understandably is not always very clear to the average person.

Nevertheless, a Title Deed is a very important legal document which is used as evidence to prove ownership of immovable property, such as a home or a plot of land. With regards to immovable property, the Department of Lands and Surveys in the Republic of Cyprus is the only public department in Cyprus that is involved with the rights related to immovable property and a Title Deed needs to be officially registered with this Department.

A Title Deed becomes relevant in the immovable property buying process (whether this involves a home or land), for the transfer of absolute ownership from the seller to the purchaser.

Checking a Title Deed

A lawyer will check the Title Deed to make certain that the seller has the right to sell the property. For example, if a property is owned by a minor (under 18 years of age), a court order has to be obtained to sell the property. The Title Deed also contains important information such as, if any other person has an interest or share in the property, the boundaries of the property, rights of way through the property, including its location, registration number and if there are any restrictions which apply to the Title Deed.

It is important to note that Title Deeds exist for all immovable properties in the Republic of Cyprus. If purchasing an entire property with an existing Title Deed, the title can easily be transferred from the seller into the purchaser’s name, when being represented by a lawyer.

The lawyer will be able to assist in making certain that all of the immovable property taxes, municipality taxes and any income or capital gains taxes have been paid and the relevant Tax Clearance Certificates have been issued. The lawyer will also assist in paying and obtaining all receipts of settlement for all electricity and water bills, including local taxes due to the authorities, as well as the payment of any communal fees up to the date of delivery of the property.

The contracts will then need to be stamped by the Tax Authorities. In addition, so as to follow the correct process the seller needs to declare that there have not been any additions or alterations to the property which affect the issue of the permit. The transfer of the Title Deeds will be undertaken by the Department of Lands and Surveys either by the seller and purchaser in person or their authorised representative that has been granted a Power of Attorney.

Transfer of ownership (at completion)

The transfer of ownership will be made to the purchaser following the complete payment of the purchase price of the property, including payment of the transfer fees and stamp duties which are calculated by the Department of Land and Surveys, according to the value of the property on the date of transfer of the property.

The issue procedures become complicated when, for example, there are any legal obligations, mortgages, encumbrances and/or burdens on the property, including in some cases where there are structural contraventions which do not comply with the relevant permits and licences.

The Title Deed transfer/issuing process depends on each individual case and whether all of the relevant regulations have been adhered to, the relevant permits and licences have been obtained, as well as all the taxes, encumbrances and charges have been paid, including the property transfer fees and stamp duties to the Department of Lands and Surveys.

With the construction of new building project complexes, whether these are apartments or clusters of homes, the first application required is the permit for the division of the land.  The construction of new projects must then be completed in accordance with the planning and building permits.

Building project complexes, however, may also require, for example, inspections on fire safety regulations from the Fire Department as well as the local municipality/authorities for the issue of the relevant licences. If an operational communal pool has been built as part of the complex, a swimming pool licence will be required.

If all goes well and all of the inspections have been successfully completed with the necessary licences obtained and fees paid, a certificate of completion is filed with the Department of Urban Planning and Housing. At the same time, a submission is made for the separation of each individual unit. If approved, an application is made with the Department of Lands and Surveys for the separate issue of the Title Deeds.

The Department of Lands and Surveys will undertake its own investigations and examinations of the building project and it will begin the process for issuing of the separate Title Deeds for each individual property. On completion of the process, the purchaser will need to pay the transfer fees and stamp duties and within a few months of completion, the Title Deeds will be issued thereby securing the ownership of the property to the purchaser.

Trapped buyers

The problem of ‘Trapped Property Buyers‘ arose from purchasers who had complied with their contractual and financial obligations to the seller and had also deposited their contract with the District Land Office by 31/12/2014. If the contract had not been deposited by this date, a Court application would need to be made to obtain an Order for ‘Specific Performance‘, and to deposit the contract.

The Trapped Buyers issue is very intricate and complex since it encompasses the involvement of many parties such as the developers, the buyers themselves, the banks, central government and local government departments. Depending on each individual case and the cause of the source of the delay, these cases need to be assessed and examined separately to either mitigate the risk of delay or perhaps find a remedy to the problem and initiate the procedures necessary to receive the Title Deeds.

It is very important that property owners understand the reason that they are not in possession of their Title Deeds and they should undertake appropriate action to protect their property, by addressing the delays or difficulties with an experienced lawyer, so that a course of appropriate action can be undertaken to help resolve the obstacles hindering the issue of their Title Deeds.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

The author


Elizabeth Michael
Michael Kyprianou Advocates & Legal Consultants

13 COMMENTS

  1. I have paid for my property in full in 2007 it is now 2020. Surprise, surprise still no title deeds. I have visited the Land registry’s Office that many times I think I am an employee there.

    On my last visit I make contact with an official who informed me that the land owner had sold some “title” not sure to another person in 2015. And she thinks she owns everything. Very nice.

    Still waiting for a result even the the official stated she should be in a position to issue my title deeds to ME. Any help appreciate at whatever cost.

    • I don’t understand what the problem is, you/your lawyer needs to investigate further.

      But in any event you must Apply for your Title Deed (if you haven’t done so already.)

      Unfortunately in Cyprus, ‘Information or documents in the public register of Titles connected with the ownership of immovable properties and charges or encumbrances lodged against them are treated as confidential and unavailable for public inspection’ , so I can’t find anything out on your behalf.

      However, as a purchaser you (or a lawyer acting on your behalf as your Power of Attorney) can get this information. Please refer to Title search procedures in Cyprus.

  2. Our lawyer was supposed to have handed the completed necessary (all signed) papers in to the courts last November to transfer a property from a deceased to a sibling – as per the will.

    How long should this take and to get the new deeds with the new name? Don’t tell me we are now at the back of this ‘year long’ queue ?

    • I guess your lawyer has applied for a grant of probate?

      These usually take around a year – but with the COVID situation it may longer as the courts are not functioning normally at the moment.

      I suggest you speak with your lawyer.

      • thanks. that’s correct application to the courts for probate.

        Its taken 3 years just to get to the stage for the lawyer to apply to the courts as it was not made clear to us that ALL members of the immediate family/siblings had to sign/agree to the contents of the will prior to passing in to the courts.

        So its really a second opinion I am asking for to see whether it will would take years to get them as we have read so many people having to wait years for their title deeds I thought this may have to go through similar process/govt. departments.

        • I only found out about this ‘anomaly’ a few weeks ago. In Cyprus the Probate Registry requires all of the legal heirs to sign documentation, even though they are not beneficiaries under the will. This is done to ensure that anybody who would have a claim on the estate is given an opportunity to make such a claim by being informed that the administration is proceeding.

          Although Brits in particular changed their wills to avoid Cyprus’ forced heirship rules, by electing to have the law of their country of nationality to apply to their estate, that doesn’t include how probate applications are dealt with. I know it’s bizarre, but then this is Cyprus.

  3. 12 years on, and 9 since the developer fled to the UK, I am now about to get my Title Deeds. Whilst I accept this is a positive step, the Title Deeds are not clean. Therefore, I cannot transfer or sell my property. I have worked hard to ensure all outstanding issues (some major) have been resolved to the satisfaction of the authorities. The drawings are revised reflecting small discrepancies in the completed project in comparison to original drawings/planning permission. Again the authorities are happy. However, for 4 years they have insisted on the developer signing the revised drawings. Rock and a hard place or plain nonsense? They have now agreed that if EVERY purchase on the development signs the revised drawings then we can proceed. But two properties are effectively “abandoned”. I am awaiting to see if they will accept signatures from the majority. The whole process is antiquated and does nothing to protect the interests of purchasers

    • If the planning and building permits have expired, I understand that any registered architect can approve the drawings and that these will be accepted by the planning authorities. I suggest you check with your lawyer to confirm.

      • I wish it was that simple. I have been in contact with my lawyer and the architect for years trying to resolve this. As I say, the whole process is not designed to protect the interests of the purchaser.

  4. I have the Title Deed for land, which shows a dwelling. I paid the property tax on a dwelling for the years we had to pay, so land registry and inland revenue know there is property on the land. I want to sell.

    • I see you’ve asked me this question before – I explained what you need to do to sell your house in my reply.

      “Do you know what the notes of unauthorised works say? It may be less expensive for you to correct the planning issues. I’m not sure what the cost of demolition would be, but cost of demolishing one of the properties made uninhabitable by the landslide in Pissouri was €11,000. This was a largish family house on two floors.

      (I found your emails from 2014 querying the size of your plot. I expect the reason the value of your house was not included in the 2013 valuations was because it had not been added to the land deed – due to the unauthorised work. Is there any way you can send me a scan or a clear digital photograph of your deed? Since 2014 the Land Registry has improved its website and there’s more information available.)”

  5. What happens when the land registry will not give you your title deeds for your boundry and your land that belongs to your house title kind regards Belinda Salthouse

    • The Title Deed is for the land (and everything on it.) You do not get a separate Title Deed for your boundary or for your house.

      What happens is that, once your house has been built, the Title Deed for the land is updated to include the house and it’s then re-issued.

      You (or your lawyers) will need to investigate why you cannot get the Title Deed. As the article explains, there are several reasons why this may not be possible.

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