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Incredible delays in title issue

30 July 2017

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What we are surprised to note however is the local Technical Chamber which says that it is the advisor of the Government at all times on such matters has not come up with any proposal, as well as the others technical bodies such as the architects and others.

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

We must report to you our recent experience so that you can understand what Cypriot bureaucracy is all about. A lot of title issue route “improvements” have been adopted by the Governments at the time, but no one touched upon the foundation of the system introduced under the British colonisation era in the 1940’s, with no changes of substance to the rotten system which became outdated 20 years ago, especially with the property boom that has followed the 1970’s. Few examples to get your hair raised in discussed:

  • You secure first the planning permit – it takes 6-8 months notwithstanding the legal requirement of 3 months for the first and another 2 months for the building permit. In total estimate around 8-10 months in order to secure the planning/building permit, so that construction can commence. In the meantime no building works are not allowed be it that most planning authorities turn a blind eye once the planning permit is secured.

  • Once the building is completed and as a first step one requires to secure the certificate of final approval (CFA) i.e. a certificate that the works executed are in accord with the permit. If not, you must reapply for a revised plan/building permit with another 8-10 months delay.

  • In order to get the precious certificate the local council must meet, minutes duly kept, typed and then approved of course by the committee. On many occasion the non-available staff with sick, holidays etc, delay caused by typed decision is elongated by even further. On one occasion we were told that there was no secretarial staff to type the minutes (we offered to type their minutes) and then again lack of typist for the minutes to be approved.

  • Once you get the C.F.A. you must apply for a division permit (going back to the council with a similar procedure) and having the division permit you must obtain final approval of the permit.

  • Once this is secured you apply to the Lands Office which will carry out a land survey, in order to reconfirm the boundary issue, the extent of each unit and then the problems start all over again even if there are 2 cms invasion of neighboring properties or vice versa with neighboring plots. Another delay to get another certificate by the local council/Municipality that they do not object to such minor irregularities (council meeting, minutes, approval of minutes etc etc).

  • Then you need to produce detailed plans and estimation of the property’s value as at 1.1.2013 for tax purposes, which must be checked and rechecked by the Lands Office with further delays.

  • Then the Lands Office having checked the demarcation it might find that based on the new measurement that the whole project/property is less in extent of what is recorded on the official title (notwithstanding that the building obtained a permit based on the possible incorrect title).

  • God help you when the Lands Office upon re-measurement of the boundaries find that the set boundaries are not correct and/or the land extent. All over again with an application for relaxation, meetings, minutes etc.

  • A major problem is the constant up-sense of civil servants for all sort of reasons, ranging from Governmental priorities to sick leave and pregnancy occasions. This together with the reduction of staff in the civil service tries one’s patience.

What we are surprised to note however is the local Technical Chamber which says that it is the advisor of the Government at all times on such matters has not come up with any proposal, as well as the others technical bodies such as the architects and others.

As far as we are concerned the situation could be simpler to the extent possible by:

  • Land survey to be carried out by private firms at the initial stage to confirm the boundaries and extent.

  • All building permits, final approval certificates and others to be issued by the supervising architect who will bear the responsibility.

  • The various applications, if duly submitted to be approved or otherwise within 2 months, otherwise to be adopted as being correct.

  • Time limits to be set for all stages and if not to be adopted as submitted and the authority to bear a penalty of say €100/day of delay.

  • The certificate of final approval is a prerequisite for a building’s occupation. Bearing in mind the delays, this to be replaced by a certificate of safety issued by the supervising architect, so completed buildings are not left idle. Bearing in mind that the majority of buildings, hotels etc do not possess the certificate (C.F.A.), you can appreciate the problem (now the authorities turn a blind eye, but if a report is submitted the courts have no choice other than to order the demolition of the building!!).

What a mess dear readers and it is no-wonder that we cannot see some light at the end of this long and very dark channel of the title issue.

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