Cyprus govt hits out at criticism that it is dragging its feet over title deeds row

Nicholas Wallwork

Nicholas Wallwork

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The Cyprus government has hit out at allegations that it has been slow to tackle the title deed problems that have left tens of thousands of property owners on the Mediterranean island without proof that they own their homes.

Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis said in a statement that such claims ignore the serious efforts being made to resolve the situation. 'There has been an attempt to present the Republic of Cyprus as an unreliable place for investment in the property market due to the problem of issuing title deeds. These allegations are entirely unsustainable,' he said.

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Believe it when you see it............

Title deeds issue to be in parliament by month’s end
By Charles Charalambous
Published on April 10, 2010

LEGISLATION to clear the backlog of title deeds will be tabled to Parliament if not around April 20, at least by the end of the month, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis said yesterday.

Sylikiotis, giving a news conference to mark two years in office, referred to the title deeds issue as a ‘Gordian knot’.

He said having been through a consultation process involving all groups representing interested parties, the five pieces of amending legislation designed to help clear the backlog of unissued deeds have now been finalised. He expects them to be tabled for consideration by the House of Representatives around April 20, and “certainly no later than the end of the month,” he said.

Speaking in general, Sylikiotis said the challenges facing both the Interior Ministry and the government as a whole is to fulfil the commitment they have made to provide solutions to various problems facing ordinary people.

“Our credibility, our targeted policies and strategic positions for covering the needs, concerns and aspirations of the public are tested against the effectiveness and capability with which, on the one hand, we deal with the various problems, and on the other, we produce political results.”

Title deeds issue to be in parliament by month?s end - Cyprus Mail


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What is the EU saying about this? After all, isn't Cyprus applying to join the EU?


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Cyprus is already a member of the EU & adopted the € in January last year.


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thanks lysos, so what has the eu said about this situation?


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Bills hope to ease up title deeds squeeze
By George Psyllides
Published on April 15, 2010

THE GOVERNMENT yesterday approved six bills concerning property title deeds and a town-planning amnesty that hopes to fetch the state significant revenues.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said six bills were approved regarding the reformation of the legal framework governing building permits and the issuing of title deeds.

“With these six bills, the government hopes to resolve a chronic problem concerning title deeds and free many owners facing problems,” Stefanou said. “Modernising this legal framework will fetch the state a decent revenue.”

The bills will be passed on to Parliament today where procedures will start for their approval.

Stefanou said more details on the bills will be given by the interior minister.

The legislation comes at the end of many months of work on “this difficult, complicated and long standing problem,” the spokesman said.

Thousands of home buyers, including many foreign nationals, remain without title deeds for various reasons like minor irregularities in the building or more seriously, the developer not having paid off or is unable to pay off the mortgage.

And the economic downturn and the slump in the property market is not making their lives easier.

The Cyprus property market has received a lot of bad publicity because of the matter, as many foreign buyers, especially British nationals, have taken the issue to their own government.

Bills hope to ease up title deeds squeeze - Cyprus Mail


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Light at the end of the tunnel on title deeds
By Jacqueline Agathocleous
Published on May 4, 2010

PARLIAMENT yesterday began discussions on the bills that aim to put an end to the difficulties faced by Cypriot and foreign property owners in acquiring their title deeds.

The House Interior Committee began discussions on three of five bills that aim to reform the legal framework for governing building permits and the issuing of title deeds – a move expected among other things to bring in significant revenue to the state.

The remaining two bills, which have to do with the legal aspects of the matter, will be discussed at the House Legal Affairs Committee.

“All the bills are centred on the buyer,” Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis said yesterday. “The main aim is to give land owners and buyers, Cypriot and foreign, the opportunity to receive title deeds. We also aim to improve the property sector’s operation and increase revenue, putting an end to this massive problem with the title deeds, which has exposed us as a state.”

Apart from the financial aspect, the bills are of great significance for the Cypriot property market, which is currently in great disarray due to difficulties in acquiring title deeds.

Thousands of home buyers, including many foreign nationals, remain without title deeds due to various reasons. More seriously, many owners can’t receive their deeds because a developer failed or was unable to pay off the building’s mortgage. Many foreign investors, mainly British, have taken the matter to their own governments.

Sylikiotis yesterday said the state was finally on its way to finding a permanent solution to the problem, after two years of discussions and consultations with all parties involved.

Light at the end of the tunnel on title deeds - Cyprus Mail


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Title deeds changes hit snag
By Jacqueline Agathocleous
Published on May 28, 2010

THE much-anticipated bills to regulate the title deeds issue have hit a snag, after it emerged yesterday that not all concerned had been properly consulted during the preparation of the legislation.

While the bills were being discussed at yesterday’s House Legal Affairs Committee, organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce (KEVE),the Land Developers Association, technical chamber ETEK and banks said they had not been consulted fully before the legal amendments were prepared, contradicting the interior minister who said most of the issues had been agreed before they were drawn up.

“We feel the specific bills were prepared without reaching an agreement with concerned organisations such as the Cyprus Bar Association and KEVE, who are directly involved and categorically disagree with the bills,” said DIKO deputy Nicolas Papadopoulos. “If these bills were part of the government’s measures to deal with the public deficit, why wasn’t the correct procedure followed so that most issues were agreed on?”

Papadopoulos said this lack of coordination would lead to new delays in amending the law, which currently leaves property owners – local and foreign – exposed, as there are vast difficulties in acquiring title deeds.

This is mainly due to debts owed by developers to banks, which then refuse to approve the deeds.

Committee Chairman Ionas Nicolaou of DISY agreed. “Through our discussion today, it became clear that a consultation that started months ago on this matter has not been exhausted,” he said. “We noted completely opposing views, which could have reached a conclusion if the correct consultations had taken place.”

He said the committee has asked the government to meet with those involved and sort out the matter.

AKEL deputy Yiannakis Thoma said the issue was massive and complex, and involved many personal interests.

“There is a chance for thousands of people who are being held hostage to developers to get title deeds,” said Thoma. “Many families and foreigners are facing serious problems, which is why controlled efforts are being made to improve the situation. We feel with goodwill and cooperation we will achieve our aim of securing title deeds and increasing state income.”

Title deeds changes hit snag - Cyprus Mail


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Tax evasion and title-deeds: mine-field legislation put on hold
By Jacqueline Agathocleous
Published on July 6, 2010

PARLIAMENT yesterday decided there was not enough time to conclude discussions on the much-debated tax evasion bills before it wraps up for summer this week, sending them for further discussions in September.

“During the chapter discussion of the government’s bills to combat tax evasion, we spotted huge efforts by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) and all relevant departments – especially the Certified Accountants’ and Banking Association - to agree on a draft that can preferably be passed unanimously by parliament,” said the Chairman of the House Finance Committee, DIKO’s Nicolas Papadopoulos yesterday.

“Due to the complexity of the bills, it was not possible to conclude discussions. Some disagreements still remain on essential matters and the bills need legal assessment and improvement,” he added. “Therefore it is doubtful for anyone to expect these bills to be passed on Thursday.”

Papadopoulos said discussions would continue between the IRD and other departments throughout the summer.

AKEL’s Stavros Evagorou said much progress had been made.

“But due to the complexity of the bills it was decided to give a reasonable period of time to continue discussions between the IRD and the Certified Accountants’ Association and once a report is prepared by parliament, we will move ahead with passing the points that we agree with,” said Evagorou.

EDEK’s Marinos Sizopoulos said his party would examine any new amendments and offer its official stance on the matter in September.

Meanwhile, the House Interior Committee also decided to postpone discussions on the highly debated title deeds’ bills until after the summer recess, due to lack of time.

The Chairman of the House Interior Committee, AKEL’s Yiannos Lamaris, said that despite intense efforts, the Committee was not able to conclude discussions, resulting in it having to continue after parliament’s summer recess. “We estimate that by October, the bills will reach the Plenum,” said Lamaris.

Tax evasion and title-deeds: mine-field legislation put on hold - Cyprus Mail


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Title-deed legislation edges closer
By Elias Hazou
Published on September 14, 2010

LEGISLATION designed to tackle the bane of unlicensed constructions across the island, as well as spelling out who is responsible for what in real estate transactions, could be ready by next month and may at long last bring relief to thousands of ‘trapped’ property buyers.

It’s estimated there are some 100,000 Cypriots and foreigners without title deeds for their properties, the majority because of building permit violations.

Politicians are working on a cluster of bills involving a so-called ‘town planning amnesty’ and at the same time accelerating the issuing of building and town planning permits, which under the present circumstances takes years.

The bills should be ready to go to the plenum by mid-October, chairman of the House Interior Committee Yiannos Lamaris said yesterday.

“The town-planning regulations have two directions,” Lamaris said. “One leads to simplification of the procedures for issuing title deeds and of all those practices to which we had become accustomed so far.”

The second direction will allow people to ‘buy out’ minor violations, thus enabling the acquisition of a final certificate of approval for building and the title deed itself.

In certain cases, the violations will be disclosed on the title deed so that when a property is sold the buyer knows what they’re getting, Lamaris said.

Subsequently, the fact that such violations had existed would not impact the status of the structure, its functionality or the facilities available to the occupants.

“There shall be no arrangement which facilitates one person and inconveniences another,” Lamaris remarked.

One idea being mulled over is to have chartered surveyors furnish the property owner with a certificate attesting that construction works have been completed.

Title-deed legislation edges closer - Cyprus Mail


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Laws to iron out problems with title deeds
By Jacqueline Agathocleous
Published on December 29, 2010

PARLIAMENT is currently in the process of preparing a law, in cooperation with the government and banks, that will put an end to the current title deeds system that has left hundreds of home buyers at the mercy of debt-riddled developers.

Until now, buying a house or apartment and even paying for it - or taking out a mortgage - did not necessarily mean that the buyer had his or her full rights, often having no title deed. If the developer went bankrupt, the rights to the property were immediately handed over to the bank, which effectively owned the property's title deeds.

The current system has not only landed a lot of people in trouble, it has also exposed Cyprus and its property market abroad, as many foreigners - especially Brits - have fallen victim to the system.

But not any more.

The House Legal Affairs Committee in cooperation with the government, Legal Services, banks and Developers' Association are attempting to bring some significant changes to current legislation, with two bills that are currently under examination.

In an extraordinary meeting yesterday, the Committee said it was attempting to regulate property sales and purchases, loans taken out by buyers and mortgages.

"With the changes attempted in the legislation, we are making it easier for buyers to seek the registration of their property in their name," Committee Chairman, DISY's Ionas Nicolaou, explained after the meeting.

"On one hand, by altering the deadlines for submitting a lawsuit and on the other, by reducing the restrictions that exist in today's law," he added.

AKEL's Aristophanis Georgiou said the current law had caused a series of problems, not just for sellers but also buyers.

"With the regulations in the new law, buyers are finally given their rights and these rights are secured and updated up until the point that the contract is used as a mortgage for the property," Georgiou explained. "At the same time, the rights of the sellers and banks, which will loan to those who will buy, are not at all negatively affected."

The aim, he added, is to wrap up discussions on these two laws by January 13.

The main changes the Committee is hoping to achieve are for the purchase contract to have superiority over the mortgage - that the developer has taken out on the property - and to secure the buyers' rights while taking the banks and sellers' best interests into account.

Laws to iron out problems with title deeds - Cyprus Mail


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Control of title deeds hits problems
By Jacqueline Agathocleous
Published on January 12, 2011

The House Legal Affairs Committee’s effort to conclude two of five bills that hope to put an end to the title deeds nightmare in the property market has been delayed by a number of questions raised during recent discussions.

One such point of dispute is how to make it a criminal offence for a property seller to mortgage a property he or she has already sold as it will be obligatory to present the property’s sales contract to the Land Registry Department before any such transaction can take place.

A new meeting has been scheduled for next week, said Committee Chairman, DISY’s Ionas Nicolaou, after Monday’s session.

Nicolaou said the effort was to find a balance between the rights of the seller and the buyer, as determined in the sales contract that was signed.

This, he said, would resolve all the problems that have led to the crisis in Cyprus’ property market over the past few years.

“One matter that arises is the ability, within a period of six months from when this legislation comes into effect, to submit all sales contracts to the Land Registry, which haven’t yet been submitted,” Nicolaou explained. He added that this was independent of when the contract was signed.

But most importantly, he added, this would lead to “the creation of criminal responsibility in the event that a property seller takes out a mortgage on the property, without first confirming if the sales contract he signed was submitted to the Land Registry before applying for the mortgage”.

This measure, said Nicolaou, would protect buyers from property sellers who may sign a sales contract one day, then go and mortgage the property the following day, resulting in the mortgage having superiority over the sales contract.

Next week’s meeting is expected to shed some light on a number of issues.

The current system has left hundreds of overseas property investors at the mercy of developers who went out of business due to the current worldwide property and economic slump.

Control of title deeds hits problems - Cyprus Mail


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End in sight to title-deeds shambles?
By Elias Hazou
Published on January 18, 2011

DEPUTIES mulling over legal changes to solve the title deeds shambles yesterday agreed on a key provision that would give buyers the right to title deeds regardless of pre-existing mortgages on the property.

The House Legal Affairs Committee indicated after a meeting yesterday that important progress had been made on the issue. “We aim to strike a balance between the rights of the buyer and the seller, but also to guarantee the rights of mortgagees,” committee chairman Ionas Nicolaou told newsmen following a session involving land developers, property owners associations, bankers, and officials from the departments of Land Registry and Town Planning.

The House Legal Affairs Committee is currently working on two of five government-sponsored items of legislation geared at overhauling the system. Nicolaou said, however, that each bill was distinct and would be forwarded to the plenum irrespective of progress on the others.

A key provision of the bill, on which there was broad agreement yesterday, gives the buyer the right to have the property transferred to his or her name regardless of whether a pre-existing mortgage on that property has been paid in full.

Nicolaou explained: “Having calculated their participation in the share of the loan for which there is a mortgage preceding the sales contract, buyers will be able to propose settling that amount to the lender on behalf of the seller.

“Once such payment is made, for the purposes of a specific performance [court order] it shall be deemed to have priority over any mortgage. “A court will be able to order that the real estate be placed in the name of the buyer irrespective of whether the mortgage has been paid in full.”

Nicolaou said “everyone is in agreement that the sales contract shall have priority over the mortgage, for the purpose of protecting the buyer…from abusive practices.”

The spirit of the bill is to spell out where the involved parties – the buyer, the seller and the lender – stand in relation to one another, the DISY MP noted.

“It explicitly states who has priority and when, and defines an encumbrance [claim on real estate] that is created once a sales contract has been submitted to the Land Registry,” said Nicolaou.

It will be obligatory to present the property’s sales contract to the Land Registry Department before any such transaction can take place.

Regarding current sales contracts that have been signed but not yet filed with the Land Registry, Nicolaou said a window of six months would be given for filing contracts after the law is passed. In this respect, the new law would not have a retroactive effect.

In addition, on presenting the sales contract to the Land Registry, the buyer will be secure in the amount they have paid to the seller until that date, in the event the seller (developer) is unable to complete the project or to transfer individual units to separate buyers of a housing project.

“On submitting the contract, an encumbrance shall be created with regard to the amount paid up until that moment…and that encumbrance shall give the buyer priority over any other obligations of the seller.”

Under the legislative proposal, Nicolaou said, a buyer will have the right to take legal recourse and request a court injunction ordering the seller to transfer the immovable property to their name.

“This is a straightforward procedure,” he added.

An estimated 100,000 properties in Cyprus are without title deeds and Land Registry officials have confirmed that 30,000 of these properties have been bought by foreigners, the vast majority being British.

Many buyers have been conned into buying mortgaged property and are left in the lurch when the developers default on their bank loans.

A poll conducted by CPAG (Cyprus Property Action Group) last year found that close to 100 per cent of foreign buyers would not have bought in Cyprus if they had been informed of the practice of withheld title deeds and developer mortgages.

End in sight to title-deeds shambles? - Cyprus Mail


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Our View: Trying to please all sides on title deeds is a recipe for disaster
Published on January 19, 2011

SOMETIMES we wonder whether our politicians are incapable of learning anything from the mistakes of the past. The legislation being prepared by the House Legal Affairs committee, supposedly to ensure the prompt issuing of a title deed to a buyer of property, defies belief. It has almost as many loop-holes as the existing law which protects the interests of the banks and has left some 100,000 people without title deeds and many of them in danger of losing the property they had paid for in full.

We would have thought that the title deeds fiasco, which gave Cyprus a very bad name abroad and contributed to the current woes of developers, would have persuaded the government and deputies to come up with a clear law that would put the protection of the buyer above everything else. Instead, they have come up with a law aimed at satisfying everyone – buyers, developers, estate agents and the banks. No experts are needed to tell us that this will be a recipe for endless disputes and that the only beneficiary would be the legal profession.

The law stipulates that when a person buys a flat in a block for which there is a mortgage, he would be able to pay the lender the value of the flat (which would be a percentage of the developer’s/seller’s total loan),and the buyer would be deemed to have priority over any mortgage in the event that the bank takes ownership of the block. But what happens if the sale price is lower than the value placed by the bank on the specific property? Would the buyer have to pay a surcharge to the bank in order to obtain a title deed? Then there is the certificate of final approval for the building that is issued by Town Planning, and without which no title deeds could be issued.

This is just an example of the problems that would be created if the proposed law is finally approved. But this was to be expected considering that the priority of the lawmakers was to keep everyone happy. The chairman of the House Legal Affairs committee, Ionas Nicolaou, did not try to hide the fact on Monday when he said, “we aim to strike a balance between the rights of the buyer and the seller, but also to guarantee the rights of the mortgagee.” And this is a lawyer speaking, a man who should know a thing or two about contract law.

Surely a developer/seller should be obliged to provide the buyer of a property with a title deed as soon as he receives full payment and this should be clearly stated by the law. And if some businesses would not be able to fund new developments, then so be it. People could spend their life savings on buying a property and they should have the legal right to have a title deed issued as soon as they pay the seller. The law must ensure that a buyer’s right to the property he has fully paid for is absolute. Nothing less would do.

Our View: Trying to please all sides on title deeds is a recipe for disaster - Cyprus Mail


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Our View: It is imperative to clean up our act
Published on January 23, 2011

WHEN DEMAND for holiday homes in Cyprus was at its peak, everyone who owned a couple of plots of land decided to become a developer and make an easy buck. Holiday villas grew like mushrooms all over the island, financed by banks which had ample funds to lend. They gave loans to the developers, loans to buyers and everyone was happy, for a brief period. But inevitably things began to go wrong as the world recession arrived and demand nose-dived.

Suddenly all types of problems began to appear. Thousands of buyers were left without title deeds for properties they had paid for in full because the developers had used the properties as collateral for their next project, which meant the bank still had ownership. Others, in their hurry to cash in, had built blocks of flats without securing all the necessary permits and were unable to secure final approval from the Town Planning Department, which is a requirement for the issuing of title deeds. We have reported stories about holiday homes without electricity supply because the developer had not made the necessary arrangements with the Electricity Authority.

As a result of this shoddiness, there are currently some 30,000 foreign home-owners without title deeds for their properties, which, legally speaking, are owned by the banks. There are also 100,000 Cypriots without title deeds, but they seem to accept this as normal practice; many consider it a bonus as they are not obliged to pay transfer fees and other taxes. For foreigners, however, this uncertainty is unacceptable and, understandably, they feel that they have been cheated.

Lobby groups have been demanding action from the government, but despite the best intentions of ministers, they have been unable to come up with a solution, as there is no way the banks will surrender the security they have for loans to developers. The legitimate grievances of foreign buyers have been receiving a lot of publicity abroad – the matter was even raised at the European Parliament – which has proved disastrous for the holiday home market. The dramatic fall in sales in the last two years could not be blamed exclusively on the recession, the bad publicity also playing a big part. This bad publicity would affect the property market in the coastal resorts long after the economic recovery arrives.

Given the desperate situation, we would have expected the authorities to do everything in their power to gradually re-build Cyprus’ tarnished reputation. Yet this week, the chairman of the House Legal Affairs Committee announced that new legislation governing title deeds, aimed to “strike a balance between the rights of the buyer and the seller, but also guarantee the rights of the mortgagee.” Deputies were talking about the buyer paying the bank instead of the seller for a property that was mortgaged and being issued a title deed. It is as if we have learnt nothing from the mistakes of the past and the harm they have caused the country.

Instead of cleaning up our act and preventing a repeat of this mess, deputies are still looking at ways of keeping the old, discredited system alive to keep developers happy. A rational law would stipulate that as soon as a buyer pays for a property, he should be handed a title deed; failure to do so would entitle the buyer to have his money returned and claim damages from the seller. With such a provision, developers would not start a project without securing all the necessary licences and permits from the Town Planning Department. Failure to secure these permits before construction work begins should also carry a big penalty. The Town Planning Department should also be made much more efficient and issue the necessary permits much quicker than it does now, contributing to the creation of the problems.

The politicians must understand that it is imperative for us to clean up our act and not make cosmetic changes to the law that has allowed developers to destroy the island’s reputation. They have to understand that there are still huge numbers of holiday homes that remain unsold, despite a 20 to 40 per cent fall in selling prices. Bargain prices are unlikely to attract foreign buyers if the legal obligation to provide them with a title deed on signing the sale contract does not exist. Such a law would push small developers and the cowboys out of the market, but it would be no bad thing, as they have caused enough harm.

We might not be able to correct the wrong done to the 130,000 home owners without title deeds, but we must ensure the new law gives full protection to the buyer. It is the only way to revive the holiday home market.

Our View: It is imperative to clean up our act - Cyprus Mail


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Minister calls for DISY help in easing title-deed chaos
By George Psyllides
Published on February 12, 2011

INTERIOR Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis yesterday urged parliament to vote for the government’s long-awaited town-planning amnesty bills and accused opposition DISY of stalling and trying to alter their provisions.

The minister said that it is well-known that the dysfunction of the whole system of development control “but also a multitude of problems, violations and omissions by professionals in the construction sector, resulted, among other serious evils, in the victimisation … of thousands of property buyers, as well as the defamation of our country abroad.”

Sylikiotis urged parliament to vote for the bills, under discussion for the past 10 months, and accused DISY of stalling tactics.

“There are thousands of buyers and owners waiting for these bills to go through,” the minister said. “The excuse put forward by some people, that this exhaustive dialogue in the House (Interior) Committee aims at improving the bills is inaccurate.”

He said the delay did not add anything toward improving the bills “but on the contrary, what it essentially achieves is to perpetuate a situation that only hurts the tens of thousands of buyers whose rights are not safeguarded while Cyprus continues to be degraded overseas.”

The minister was referring to three of the five bills currently before the house dealing with various aspects of the title-deed issue..

But he added that there was also a delay in processing the other two bills – which regulate the mortgage issue -- currently being discussed in the House Legal Affairs Committee, chaired by DISY’s Ionas Nicolaou.

Sylikiotis urged DISY MPs to “abandon their stalling tactics and efforts to alter or neutralise the essence of the … innovations and reforms, which protect the buyers’ rights by overcoming past anachronisms.”

DISY responded in the afternoon, accusing the minister of making baseless claims and spoiling the constructive climate at a critical moment.

MP Christos Stylianides said “despite their many reservations on various points … the parliamentary group has decided to support them, stating its reservations, in the hope that their implementation will reveal the imperfections that can be amended in order to arrive at the best result.”

Minister calls for DISY help in easing title-deed chaos - Cyprus Mail


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Believe it when you see it............

Laws to regulate title deeds could be voted through by May
Published on February 15, 2011

THE GOVERNMENT’S town-planning amnesty bills will be put to the vote in parliament early next month as MPs aim to conclude discussion of two other bills designed to regulate mortgage issues before the May 22 parliamentary elections, it emerged yesterday.

Chairman of the House Interior Committee, AKEL MP Yiannos Lamaris said discussion has been completed and the bills were going to be submitted to plenum on March 3.

“A chapter concerning thousands of people is closing,” he said.

Apart from town planning matters, the government has also drafted two bills to regulate mortgage matters, currently under discussion at the House Legal Affairs Committee.

Committee member, DISY MP, Tasos Mitsopoulos said the aim was to bring the two bills before the plenum before parliament dissolves for the May elections.

On Friday, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis accused DISY MPs of stalling, something rejected by opposition legislators.

“The interior minister is being unfair when he criticises the legal affairs committee,” Mitsopoulos said. “If we had approved the bills as they were we would have caused a bigger problem.”

Mitsopoulos said the drafts had a lot of holes and omissions and the committee held many sessions to correct things.

Many people, including foreign buyers, have been left without deeds even after paying for their houses because developers did not pay the mortgage to the bank.

Thousands more remain without title deeds to their property due to irregularities at the time of construction or changes later on.

Laws to regulate title deeds could be voted through by May - Cyprus Mail


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Parliament: contracts will trump mortgages under new property law
By Jacqueline Agathocleous
Published on April 15, 2011

PARLIAMENT yesterday concluded discussions on the remainder of the “town-planning amnesty” legislation, completing the legal framework that aims to put an end to the title-deeds fiasco.

MPs unanimously approved the Immovable Property Sales (Specific Performance) Law, thus giving land contracts power over any mortgages owed to the banks by the property’s seller.

The law was an integral part of the government’s so-called amnesty package. Tens of thousands of real estate buyers across the island - local and foreign - remain without title deeds to their properties after the sellers failed to settle their bank debts.

The fact that rights to the property were automatically transferred to the bank left many exposed, even if they had settled their entire debt on the property.

The second bill - in which the government pushed for all land contracts to be in writing and to be registered at the Land Registry Office in order to be considered valid - was rejected by majority vote, with opposition DISY, EDEK and EVROKO, as well as coalition partner DIKO voting against.

The plenum also unanimously approved a number of last-minute amendments submitted by the parties.

Presenting the two bills before the vote, the Chairman of the House Legal Affairs Committee, DISY’s Ionas Nicolaou, said the laws corresponded to society’s demand for better protection of buyers’ rights.

“The new law will allow the buyer to have title deeds, independent of whether the seller owes money on that property,” said Nicolaou. “It is important as it will help reactivate the property market in Cyprus.”

The newly approved legislation, along with the amended town planning laws that were passed in March, aims at legalising real estate property that lacks a title deed due to town-planning or building irregularities. With around 130,000 title deeds currently pending - mainly due to developers failing to pay up mortgages on properties buyers have already paid for - this news is bound to be welcomed by many.

Now buyers will have the ability to pay up the amount they owe on their property straight to the bank, while their land contract will have precedence over any mortgage owed by a third person on the property.

Meanwhile, the House also approved a law proposal by DISY that enables owners of a co-owned plot to develop their share of it as they wish, without having to present the signatures of the remainder of the co-owners.

Until now, if a plot was co-owned, for someone to build on his part of the land, he would have to seek the approval of the other owners, otherwise the Town Planning Department would not grant authorisation.

But with the new law, people will be able to develop without needing the co-owners' signatures.

It was not clear yesterday, however, what would happen in cases where persons have already paid developers in full for a property but have not received the title deed because of outstanding debts by the developer to the banks for the plot of land.

Parliament: contracts will trump mortgages under new property law - Cyprus Mail


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Ball starts rolling on title deeds
Published on May 6, 2011

A LARGE number of property owners will soon have their much-desired title deeds, as authorities launch procedures to implement the recently passed town-planning amnesty laws.

The head of the Land Registry Office, Andreas Christodoulou, yesterday announced that his department was expected to conclude an evaluation on a list of properties by the end of this month, which will allow owners of properties with small discrepancies to acquire their deeds.

“We will move forward with evaluating the value of the properties in each area, so that they can be published in the order that will be issued by the Interior Minister,” said Christodoulou.

“We will submit our evaluations per area by the end of May and based on the law that was recently passed by parliament, the Interior Minister will issue an order, which will determine the amounts that each person will be called to pay, depending on the discrepancy,” he explained.

For the first six months after the order has been issued, applications for town-planning amnesty will be submitted by property owners who are facing problems having their title deeds issued.

Specially appointed committees will examine each application and depending on the discrepancy, they will determine the price that will have to be paid by the applicant to have deeds issued.

According to Christodoulou, there are currently over 120,000 properties without deeds – belonging to local as well as foreign buyers - while on average, around 10,500 new applications for title deeds are submitted each year.

Ball starts rolling on title deeds - Cyprus Mail


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Changes to property law online
Published on June 10, 2011

THE INTERIOR Ministry has published an 11-page online booklet in English providing general information on the building planning amnesty legislation which came into force on April 8, 2011.

The information bulletin is available at the ministry’s website at It covers the modernisation of procedures for the licensing of development, the legalising of specified irregularities in existing buildings and the issuance of updated title deeds for developments.

According to the ministry, “The bulletin is published in order to assist in the understanding of the opportunities presented by the current legislation. It does not, however, replace the laws, and in the case of any conflict arising between the two, legislation shall override its contents.”

Changes to property law online - Cyprus Mail