A welcome development, but who will implement it?
It was a pleasure to review the last decree of the Interior Minister on the issue of the final approval certificate for the construction sector. As known, without this penultimate “paper” title deeds can not be issued.
It may seem a standard procedure, but unfortunately the law states that no building can be occupied without the Final Certificate of Approval (PTE), resulting in the holder may be obliged to demolish it, for which there are multiple decisions issued by the District Courts.
But who builds anything nowadays with all the necessary documentation already approved? We will add add something, a garage, a small wall will be higher than standard, a barbecue, etc., ie. the usual excesses, which are not so fundamental. The main reason is that from the date of completion of the building until the issuance of the PTE it takes a long time, usually 2-3 years and in the meantime the owner may make some changes. And if you dare to apply to get these changes approved with a new application for a permit, this requires a further 2-3 years. The bureaucratic system is such that because of the delays it encourages owners to resort to irregularities.
The problem with the PTEs is much more serious than the Interior Ministry believes. This is because:
• At least 50% of the finished buildings do not have one, in particular private houses.
• Minor extensions that are now covered by the 20% increase of the building coefficient or about 60 sq.m. should not require a new application starting from scratch. The competent authority should automatically issue the permit.
• It is wrong for the PTE be issued in conjunction with occupancy, but should be replaced instead with a Safety Certificate of the building by the architect or consultant of the project to ensure that structurally it is okay. The PTE should be issued by the architect as part of the whole title issuing process (and for this I have a different point of view) and without the involvement of the authorities.
I ask the Interior Minister: why does the new decree cover only residential developments (and those that were completed by the year 2014?). So, hotels should be excluded as are restaurants, shops and office blocks? What is the reason? Under the existing legislation, if a hotel does not have the PTE it may not be occupied by tourists and therefore it will have to close. And suppose that someone informs the tour operators that the hotels are illegally occupied, will these international agencies not abandon Cyprus as a destination?
• The Minister was very right to issue the relevant decree albeit very restrictive, but who will tell the civil servants at the same ministry to interpret these regulations more liberally? One such case was the Town Planning Amnesty issued by the Town Planning Authority followed by statements for immediate implementation but with liberal interpretation.
However hard the State tries to accelerate the issue of title deeds, this is not feasible, because the whole bureaucracy is flimsy and the rest is a simple patch up job that does not help achieve the target.
Despite the efforts of the Minister himself and the genuine interest of this government, we are in a hopeless situation.
In a recent article I commented on “How to drive away investors in Cyprus.”
A foreign investor with funds in excess of EUR 100 mln is considering to leave, even though he and his family have been established here for 40 years and his daughter has married a Cypriot. I have sent three warning letters about this problem, but even though the minister gladly responded, there was nothing from the other state officials. I would love to publicise the issue in the press, but I am prevents by our client confidentiality.
So, this is an incomprehensible situation in which a number of Interior Ministry officials are prepared to put water in their wine and get things done, while others have exactly the opposite attitude (and this is true of general managers or other civil servants at a lower scale).
How can we deal with such attitudes when we are faced with such situations?
I’d like to hear from our readers.