WHILE LEGAL CHANGES IN RECENT YEARS HAVE HELPED TO REDUCE THE RISKS OF BUYING PROPERTY IN CYPRUS, SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS STILL EXIST WHEN PROPERTY IS PURCHASED WITHOUT A TITLE DEED.
Depositing the sale agreement with a Land Registry Office precludes the vendor from selling the property to someone else if no Title Deed has been obtained for the property being purchased. (However, in a few cases, contracts have been withdrawn from the Land Registry and the property has been sold to a third party.)
When a contract is placed with a Land Registry Office and the vendor fails to fulfil his contractual duties, the purchaser can petition to a Court to have the property transferred to their name. However, if there is no Title Deed, the property cannot be transferred.
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Furthermore, Article 10 of the Streets and Buildings Regulation Law, Cap 96, states unequivocally that “no person shall occupy or use any building, or cause, permit, or suffer any other person to occupy or use any building, unless and until a certificate of approval has been issued in respect thereof by the competent authority.”
Buildings are inspected after completion to verify that they conform with the numerous permits and authorized plans for their construction issued by the planning authorities, fire services, and so on. These inspections also guarantee that fire doors and other critical health and safety precautions are present in the structure. Once issued, the ‘Certificate of Approval,’ along with the drawings, permits, and so on, is forwarded to the Land Registry, which may then begin the process of granting the building’s Title Deed (s)
In more than 20 years, I have not heard of a single example in which criminal charges were filed against someone who was inhabiting, using, or otherwise utilizing a structure for which no Certificate of Approval had been obtained. What is the point of enacting a law that will never be enforced? And even if it were enforced, who would be willing to wait the several years it takes the government to obtain this certificate before moving into their new home?
Further issues emerge when developers fail to complete developments, leaving incomplete roads, pavements, green spaces, and so on. In these situations, the unlucky buyers must pay for any pending work to be performed before they may receive clear Title Deeds. In other situations, the planning violations are so serious that Title Deeds are never given!
What type of property is risk-safe to purchase?
It’s typically a safe idea to acquire homes that have been issued with their crucial Title Deeds. However, it is not all smooth sailing.
Encroachment, or the construction of a property on the land of a neighbour, may be an issue in the communities. I would recommend that anyone purchasing an older property or land in a hamlet have its borders verified by a licenced surveyor.
In all circumstances, retain the services of an independent lawyer to defend your interests and do due diligence on your behalf. By ‘independent,’ I mean a lawyer who is licensed by the Cyprus Bar Association and has no ties to anybody else participating in the transaction. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office maintains a list of English-speaking attorneys on its website, which can be found at Cyprus – List of Lawyers and Translators/Interpreters.