In­cred­i­ble de­lays in ti­tle deeds is­sue

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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

You

will

first se­cure

carry

out

a

the plan­ning per­mit

– it takes 6-8 months, notwith­stand­ing the le­gal re­quire­ment of three months for the first and an­other two 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 al­lowed. although most plan­ning author­i­ties turn a blind eye once the plan­ning per­mit is se­cured.

Once the build­ing is com­pleted,

then as a first step one needs 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 oc­ca­sions, the un­avail­able staff with sick leave, hol­i­days, etc, de­lay the process, while get­ting the de­ci­sion typed is elon­gated 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,

land you ap­ply to the Lands Of­fice which 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 neigh­bour­ing prop­er­ties or vice versa with neigh­bour­ing plots. An­other de­lay is 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).

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 de­lay.

Then the Lands Of­fice

(hav­ing checked the de­mar­ca­tion) 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-as­sess­ment of the bound­aries find that the set bound­aries are not cor­rect and/or the land ex­tent. Star all over again with an ap­pli­ca­tion for re­lax­ation, meet­ings, min­utes, etc.

A ma­jor prob­lem is the con­stant ab­sence of civil ser­vants for all sort of rea­sons, rang­ing from “gov­ern­men­tal pri­or­i­ties”, to sick leave and preg­nancy/ma­ter­nal leave. This, to­gether with the re­duc­tion of staff in the civil ser­vice, tries any­one’s pa­tience.

What is sur­pris­ing to note, how­ever, is the lo­cal Tech­ni­cal Cham­ber which says that it is the ad­vi­sor to the govern­ment at all times on such mat­ters, which has not come up with any pro­posal, as well as the oth­ers tech­ni­cal bod­ies such as the ar­chi­tects and oth­ers, to re­solve this bu­reau­cracy and back­log in pa­per­work.

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 two 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, EUR 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 any light at the end of this long and very dark tun­nel of the ti­tle is­sue.

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