It is easy to get carried-away with enthusiasm when embarking on a mission to acquire a property in Cyprus. The balmy Mediterranean climate, open-air dining, historic old towns and holiday atmosphere can create a heady mix that would induce a large number of typically careful – perhaps even cynical – individuals to act imprudently.
And even those who manage to avoid becoming infected with this atmosphere of wanton abandon, are still liable to fall foul of some mercenary tactics employed by unscrupulous individuals who unfortunately lurk in many areas of the Mediterranean.
The tactics employed are many and varied but ultimately the objective is the same – to sell a property that has one or more serious deficiencies to an unsuspecting ‘foreigner’ who is then left with the responsibility of dealing with these deficiencies – and paying whatever price is necessary in an attempt to avoid loss of, often considerable amounts of hard-earned money.
Buying Property in Cyprus big problems can happen typically as follows:
You buy a property that, while not having any property deeds, you are assured by the developer (or ethically worse, a lawyer recommended by the estate agent/developer promoting the property) that this is normal and once completed, the deeds will be created and put into the names of the owners of the properties on the urbanisation.
For a while you may well be happy with the home you have purchased. However, over time, you notice the building complex has become somewhat run down, and there is no regular maintenance being carried-out as far as you can see.
You become fed-up with the situation, and you don’t understand why the management committee of the property owners does not do anything about the matter. It turns out that apparently it is not possible to create an owners’ management committee since this requires title deeds.
The problem is that common expenses cannot be retrieved because the management committee cannot be registered as a legal entity and therefore cannot sue for payment of common fees owed by apartment owners. Since some owners don’t pay, everyone stops paying.
As a result the maintenance stops happening, the complex gets abandoned, things that break cannot be replaced, the pool starts to leak etc. and as a result the value of properties go down.
(Another example of issues that can arise: some owner or owners in the complex make alterations to the building that were not provided for in the original plans. As a result the planning department refuses to give you title unless you return the building to its original plan…)
In the end you decide to sell the property, however prospective buyers ask for title deeds or in their absence, ask for a big discount!
You’re facing a big loss on your investment at this point. The promoter’s lawyer/estate agent tells you to be patient and that the title deeds will be issued once the building complex has been completed. Having waited perhaps years at this point getting nowhere fast, you then decide to get independent legal advice and you’re informed of the problems in your investment and what you will need to do to rectify the situation: it is explained that you will have to sue the developer as well as the land owner who the developer originally bought the land from.
Your property does not have title deeds, is not registered with the local land registry, even worse, the Developer that built it has gone bankrupt and is no longer available or even interested in getting the work done so that title deeds are issued.