The delay in issuing Title Deeds was one of the topics discussed at a recent meeting between the Deputy Director of the Department of Lands and Surveys and a delegation of businessmen representing the construction industry.
Title Deeds can take ten years or more to be issued as a result of building irregularities and the mind-numbing bureaucracy of the Land Registry and other central and local government departments.
The delegation’s spokesman proposed that the process of issuing Title Deeds could be accelerated if it got underway as soon as the shell of the building had been finished; this proposal would need a change to the law. The Land Registry advised that modifications to the process is already underway that will enable private surveyors take the responsibility.
Another aspect in need of urgent attention is the regime of charging the common expenses for jointly-owned buildings. The regime, in its present manifestation, allows those using the building to avoid paying their debt, passing it on to the builders, or owners.
The delegation acknowledged the progress made in computerisation, which enables the Land Registry to offer a better and faster service of the public and companies. However, it stressed that all the stages required for the completion of a sale need to be computerised and, in particular, the electronic verification and payment of any debts during the transfer of a property.
The delegation considered that further computerisation will have a positive effect on the market as a whole by removing the bureaucratic and time-consuming processes in operation today.
Regular readers will recall that discussions took place between the Troika of international lenders that formed part of the bailout agreement in 2013. In April 2013, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) agreed between the Cyprus Government and the Troika called on the Cyprus Government to eliminate the Title Deed issuance backlog to less than 2,000 cases of immovable property sales contracts with title deed issuance pending for more than one year by the fourth quarter of 2014.
This was subsequently revised in the MOA issued in February 2014.
Building licensing and control
In November 2016 we reported that fundamental reforms to the complex procedures involved with the licensing and control of building development were planned by the Interior Ministry, who had been working with the Austrian Finance Ministry to develop proposals and recommendations based on best international practices.
The following year, the Greek language Phileleftheros reported that one of the proposals put forward was the creation of a single ‘service centre’ (one-stop-shop) that will issue ‘two in one’ permits in a bid to get rid of unnecessary red tape and minimise the number of departments dealing with permits.
Progress to date
However, plans to remove the unnecessary red tape involved in building licensing and control – and reduce the bureaucracy involved in issuing Title Deeds have made little progress.