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Real Estate Tips > For The Solicitor In A Purchase

For The Solicitor In A Purchase

Buying property in Cyprus is a simple procedure and for this reason most local and foreign purchasers do not use a solicitor for their transactions, (standard contract documents with blank spaces which are filled in, are normally used).

It is better, however, if a solicitor is used in such a transaction, especially when a foreign party is involved (locals will most likely know the responsibilities of the developer/ seller/agent etc). It is correct, however, to agree first on the solicitors fee for the preparation of the sales contract for an apartment (which depending on the circumstances, could be anything between €1000-€1500). In addition to the sales contract your solicitor must be asked to investigate: whether the developer (seller) is the freeholder of the property and most of the questions raised under the developer. He must check the existence of mortgages and other impediments and obtain mortgage releases etx. See 10 Building Commandments

Depositing your sales contract: For any purchase it is most important for you to deposit the sales contract with the Lands' Office, within 6 months of the purchase, so that you will have some form of a right to claim and/ or seek specific performance if something goes wrong. See our article on "Depositing your sales Contract"

Building Amnesty: Several buildings/projects have been built not in accord to their building permit. For this reason, the Government has introduced a set of 5 laws regarding the building amnesty in order for these buildings to be legalized and obtain a title.

Read article The Building Amnesty - Points to Note (29 May 2011)

The Building Amnesty - Points to Note

We hereby attempt to submit to you the various provisions that are included in the 5 laws that have been approved on April 2011 regarding the building amnesty. It is far from being a comprehensive guide on any point and only the basics are referred to in this report to the extent that we understood the legislation on 4/2011.

  1. The amnesty applies to all buildings that have been erected with a town planning/building permit and are completed prior to 8/4/2011 and without a certificate of final approval.

  2. If the registered owner/developer does not take action to secure the certificate of final approval, any purchaser/co-owner can apply for it.

  3. It applies to buildings which have an unlicensed increased building density up to 30% over and above the density stated in the permit of the whole building/project, but provided that no more than 10% is an addition from the originally approved frame – i.e. if a house has a covered verandah (say 20 sq.mts.) plus 20 sq.mts. of basement and the total extent of the house was 200 sq.mts. and the owner has close the verandah and the basement to become part of the house (i.e. a total of 40 sq.mts. (i.e. 20%) and if an extension took place up to 20 sq.mts. (i.e. 10%) in addition this will be also covered.

  4. Eligible for the amnesty are also buildings which do not have the required distance from the boundary/between buildings, as well as if the height is in excess as well as the floor numbers and the coverage percentage.

  5. Also the provision of a reduced parking no., non completion of division works, in case of boundary distances are items covered by this amnesty.

  6. It can also apply if other occupiers in a common project have carried out illegal alterations. Those who are correct can apply for the certificate even if other parts of the project are in the wrong.

  7. A certificate of approval can be issued if minor alterations (without a building permit) have been carried out and these may not be so recorded on it/title. If the alterations are more serious, this will be so recorded on the title under this heading. In this case no transfer will be allowed on the name of the owners unless the illegalities are put right.

  8. If a developer cannot meet his building permit obligations, the buyers can undertake the works and pay for it and sue the developer for the cost.

  9. If neither the developer/buyers cannot undertake the works (e.g. completion of roads) the local authority may do it and charge the developer accordingly.

  10. If the alterations affect the amenities of the neighbors, approval might not be forthcoming – and/or the authority might ask for accommodating works so that the illegal alterations have a minor affect.

  11. Anyone who wishes to be considered under the amnesty must submit details of the alterations that wishes to be covered by the amnesty to the District Committee which will be set up in each District – preferably with the help of an engineer/architect by the 10/2011.

  12. Titles will be issued on the name of the original owner (e.g. developer) but the local authority may transfer property direct to buyers with the original owner’s consent. The buyers might ask through the courts the transfer of property on their own name regardless of the consent of the original owner. These provisions apply if the buyers met all their obligations under the contract.

  13. Permits which have lapsed may be extended. The total period may be extended up to 8 years for individual units and up to 12-18 years for larger projects.

  14. A change of use that has taken place may be allowed if the “new” unlicensed use is more suitable i.e. a conversion of a flat to an office may be allowed if the zone so permits, but not the conversion of a house into other uses e.g. converting a house to a restaurant.

  15. The amnesty refers to residential/holiday home projects and for touristic/ commercial projects provided the total building density is less than 1.000 sq.mts.

  16. Interested parties must submit their intention to apply for the amnesty within a period of 6 months i.e. up to 8.10.2011 and have a period of 3 years to actually submit an application ending on 7.4.2014.

  17. If what you required is additional building density, the applicant must pay a compensation which equals to the value of the density E.g. if a building plot having an extent of say 1.000 sq.mts. value of €100.000 and the building density is 100%, it means that the density value is €1.000/sq.m. So if you require an added 20 sq.mts. density, you must pay €20.000 – less 20% discount if an application is made within one year and 10% for the second year. No discount for the third year and afterwards.

  18. Serious alterations which will be so recorded on titles (not minor) and in such cases the owner/developer will not be able to transfer the deed to third parties, unless these “serious” alterations are removed. An exception is made for forclosures.

  19. The deposit of a sales contract is now extended from the 2 month period (from signing) to 6 months. Existing Non deposited sales contracts have now six months period to deposit.

  20. The vendor of real estate must deposit himself the sales contract with the Lands Office prior to any mortgage on the property, provided the purchaser abide by the terms of the sales contract.

  21. For existing mortgaged properties, a buyer may pay the analogy of the debt to the lender and the lender must accept this providing a mortgage release to the buyer.

  22. Specific performance may be so considered by the court even if the contract is not deposited at the Lands Office and or the agreement is verbal provided it is reasonable for the Court to do so. This can be done if the rights of other parties which are registered prior to the decision are not affected.

  23. A specific performance order may be issued with conditions regarding the securing of permits etc.

  24. Assignment of sales contracts can now be deposited at the Lands Office

  25. Independently of the planning permit, the local building authority may issue a building permit if the internal layout has changes, different layout of parking, door/window openings, position and size, the building’s height, fence height etc, provided the amenities of neighbors are not affected.

  26. Unexpended building density in a project may now possess a separate title to be used either within the project or to be transferred to other areas.

  27. Shareholders in common (undivided shares) may sign not necessarily together any applications if the applicant can prove that the application relates to his own share.

  28. The local authority can now issue a stop order if a development is without a permit – with heavy penalties.