Incredible delays in title deeds issue
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introduced under the British colonial era in the 1940s, with no changes of substance to the rotten system which became outdated 20 years ago, especially with the property boom that followed the 1970s.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:
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.