Smith Supports Worried Holiday Home Buyers

24 April 2009
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today teamed up with the Cyprus Property Action Group to intervene on behalf of Scots home owners awaiting ownership of their properties in Cyprus due to the practice of the Cypriot Government allowing property developers on the island to retain title deeds.

Subsequently, property developers can use these title deeds as collateral to raise mortgages. The Government in Cyprus permit property developers to retain the title deeds to land that they develop, even after the properties have been paid in full and the buyers have received the keys.

It is estimated that a staggering 40,000 British buyers are awaiting formal legal ownership of their properties in Cyprus, despite having paid in full for the property and received the keys. Title Deeds, which are officially referred to as "Certificates of Registration of Immovable Property", are the most important evidence of property ownership, but with so few people receiving the documents after paying hundreds of thousands of pounds for houses and apartments, confidence from potential buyers is at an all time low.

Consequently, Smith has advised any Scots considering buying property in Cyprus to look elsewhere. Mr Smith has spoken on behalf of worried Scots, to Mr Denis O'Hare of Cyprus Property Action Group asking for reassurance that the Cypriot government is treating this with sufficient urgency and has also raised the issue with the Commission.

Speaking from Edinburgh, Mr Smith said:

"It is a scandalous state of affairs that Cyprus property developers can legally acquire mortgages on someone else's property even without informing the buyers, and after they have bought and paid in full, for these properties. Should the developer default on the loan the bank has first call on these properties. Clearly in the current financial climate the risk of developer default on such loans grows by the day and some developers are already in trouble.

"A number of constituents have come to me for help and some stories of exploitation and fraud are pretty hair raising. Some of my constituents tell me that they have been waiting seven years for the title deed to their property. I have also heard stories of extortion of people in this precarious position, because until the certificate is delivered the buyer does not acquire formal legal ownership.The matter is totally unacceptable by any standards of fair play and I suspect contravenes with EU/UN Charters and Cyprus's own constitution regarding property rights.

"This matter simply cannot be swept under the carpet and I am afraid that my advice to Scots looking at buying in Cyprus is to look elsewhere until this matter is resolved."

Denis O'Hare from Cyprus Property Action Group said:

"There are thousands of people without title deeds to their properties, and lawyers fail to inform purchasers' about the situation in Cyprus. Many wouldn't have brought here if they'd known.

"The Government has refused all attempts by the Cyprus Property Action Group (CPAG) to try to find solutions in order to protect buyers' interests and the image of Cyprus. Accordingly, CPAG will be using the EU Petitions process to escalate this scandalous state of affairs regarding withheld Title Deeds.

"CPAG wishes to thank all those UK MEPs, such as Alyn Smith, who have supported our efforts within the EU Parliament."