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Staggering title issue delays

By Antonis Loizou

Our 36 years of operation in Cyprus real estate, and with numerous development projects on our CV, notwithstanding, it is only recently that we became directly involved ourselves to follow the issue of titles (so far outsourced).

We must report to you our recent experience, so you can truly grasp what Cypriot bureaucracy is all about. Our 36 years of operation in Cyprus real estate, and with numerous development projects on our CV, notwithstanding, it is only recently that we became directly involved ourselves to follow the issue of titles (so far outsourced).

We must report to you our recent experience, so you can truly grasp what Cypriot bureaucracy is all about. A lot of title issue route “improvements” have been adopted by the governments of the time, but no one touched on the foundation of the system, introduced during the British colonial era in the 1940s, without any changes of substance to the rotten system that became outdated 20 years ago, especially with the property boom that followed the 1970s.

Here are a few points to get your heart racing:· You must first secure the planning permit – it takes six to eight months notwithstanding the legal requirement of three months for the first and another two months for the building permit. In total, estimate around eight to 10 months to secure the planning/building permit, so that construction can commence.

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In the meantime, no building is allowed even though most planning authorities turn a blind eye once the planning permit is issued.· Once construction is completed, one must secure the Certificate of Final Aapproval (CFA) i.e. a certificate that the works executed are in accordance with the permit.

If they are not, you must reapply for a revised plan/building permit, with a further eight to 10 months delay. · In order to get the precious certificate, the local council must meet, with minutes duly kept, typed and then approved, of course, by the committee. On many occasions, the delay is further extended by unavailable staff on sick leave or on holidays.

On one occasion, we were told there was no secretary to type the minutes (we offered to have them typed ourselves) and then again a typist was lacking for the minutes to be approved.· Once you get the CFA, you must apply for a division permit (going back to the council via a similar procedure), and obtaining the division permit you must obtain final approval of the permit.·

Once this is secured, you then apply to the Land Registry Office, which will carry out a land survey, in order to reconfirm the boundary issue and the extent of each unit, after which problems start all over again, even if there are 2cm of incursion into neighbouring properties or vice versa.

Another delay, to get another certificate by the local council/municipality, to prove they do not object to such minor irregularities (with more council meeting, minutes, approval of minutes, and so forth).·

Then you need to produce detailed plans and estimation of the property’s value as of January 1, 2013 for tax purposes, which must be checked and rechecked by the Land Registry Office – with further delays!·

On checking the demarcation, the Land Registry Office might find that, based on the new measurement, the whole project/property is less in extent to what is recorded on the official title (notwithstanding that the building obtained a permit based on the possibly incorrect title).·

God help you if, upon re-measurement of the boundaries, the Land Registry Office finds the set boundaries and/or the land extent to be incorrect. An application for relaxation, with meetings, minutes, etc. would follow.· A major problem is the frequent absence of civil servants for reasons ranging from government priorities to maternity leave.

This, together with the reduction of staff in the civil service, truly tries one’s patience.

We are surprised to note, however, that the local Technical Chamber which says that it is the government’s adviser on such matters at all times, as well as the others technical bodies such as those of architects and others, have not come up with any proposal.

As far as we are concerned, the situation could be simplified by:· Having the land survey carried out by private firms at the initial stage to confirm the boundaries and extent.·

Having all building permits, final approval certificates and others issued by the supervising architect, who will bear the responsibility.·

Ensuring the various applications, if duly submitted, are approved or otherwise within 2 months, otherwise being adopted as correct.· Setting time limits for all the stages which, if not adhered to, seeing the authority bear a penalty of, say, €100 per day of delay.·

Bearing in mind the delays, the Certificate of Final Approval – a prerequisite for a building’s occupation – to be replaced by a Certificate of Safety issued by the supervising architect, so that completed structures are not left idle.

Considering that the majority of buildings, hotels, and so forth do not possess the key CFA certificate, you can appreciate the problem. Today the authorities turn a blind eye, but if a report is submitted, the courts have no choice but to order the demolition of the building!

In short, what a mess, dear readers, and it is no wonder that at present we cannot see a light at the end of this long and very dark channel regarding title issue.

Antonis Loizou & Associates LTD

Property Valuers & Property Consultants

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