Beleaguered property investors in southern Cyprus, many of them British, are hoping that they will soon learn the detail of how the country’s Interior Ministry is planning to sort out the title deed mess that has dogged the Mediterranean island’s real estate sector.
New measures to speed up the issuing of title deeds affecting over 100,000 properties, some of which have been without legal ownership documents for decades, should be put before politicians within two months, a spokesman for the ministry confirmed.
But property owners are not holding their breath. They have been promised a resolution many times and now 24 British and Cypriot are to take their case to the High Court in London. Katherine Alexander-Theodotou, chair of the Anglo-Hellenic & Cypriot Law Association said that if that does not succeed then they are prepared to go to the European courts.
‘We are not just aiming to help individual property-owners, we are pursuing the case in the High Court in order to open the road to create a healthy property system in Cyprus,’ she said. Two UK barristers have assessed the chances of the case succeeding as being higher than 65% so the funding is ultimately being covered by insurance companies.
Denis O’Hare, spokesman for the Cyprus Property Action Group said many people have paid for their properties but years later still don’t have title deeds. The organization estimates that the titles to about 100,000 properties in the Republic of Cyprus have never been issued by the state land registry, and that around 30,000 of those properties are owned by expatriates. As the area’s total population is just 792,000, the properties in question represent a sizeable proportion of the housing stock.
One of the problems is that the issue covers a wide variety of different kinds of properties as well as each case not being the same. There are properties that have never been issued with deeds, properties that were built illegally, and properties whose developers mortgaged the land to the banks.
The problem is so widespread that there is likely to be a huge logjam as the Land Registry has to work through the cases.