By Peter Stevenson
THE BRITISH high commission will be cooperating closely with the foreign ministry following a Cabinet decision regarding the issuing of title deeds.
The issue has dogged the Cyprus property market for years, with thousands of aggrieved British home-owners on the island still without title deeds to their properties.
There is currently a backlog of over 130,000 title deeds yet to be issued and transferred. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with the troika includes a requirement for the government by the end of 2014 to ‘eliminate the title deeds issuance backlog to less than 2,000 cases’ that remained pending for more than one year.
According to sources at the foreign ministry, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has reassured both his counterpart in the UK, William Hague and the UK’s Minister of State for Europe David Lidington who visited earlier this month that the government is taking corrective measures.
“We recognise that a problem exists regarding the non-issuance of title deeds and we hope that a solution will help make Cyprus a more attractive place for investors to come and purchase property,” a foreign ministry official said on Monday.
At a recent Cabinet meeting in October it was decided that following a number of complaints, mainly by British citizens, that a review was required to establish what issues exist in the real estate market.
The problem does not only concern British citizens but Cypriots too according to the Cabinet study.
“We welcome the Cypriot government’s plans to work towards a solution to the property issues that so many UK and Cypriot nationals face and we are grateful for the steps the government has taken so far,” a British high commission spokesperson said yesterday.
The UK has offered assistance to the government in their efforts to tackle property issues the spokesperson added.
The British high commission will continue to raise concerns with the government, the spokesperson continued, including at ministerial level.
“We encourage anyone experiencing problems with property to seek legal advice by engaging an independent lawyer who will be best placed to advise on rights and methods of redress,” the spokesperson said.
The Cabinet decision entails the government working with the British high commission on the island.
As part of this cooperation the foreign minister will reply in English to questions set by the British high commission and any relevant ministries or services on matters regarding title deeds. Cypriot government officials will also have the opportunity to travel to the UK to exchange information and gain tips from their British counterparts.
The foreign ministry will also prepare a single text in English giving information on what measures need to be taken to obtain title deeds for the British High Commission which will include the contribution of each related ministry.
A guide will also be prepared in English for any new or prospective real estate buyers.
The relevant ministries and services will call on developers and lawyers involved in land deals to ensure they meet the buyers’ obligations.
These issues all fall under the responsibility of the commissioner on public service reform, Emmanuella Lambrianidou but the coordination with the UK will be the foreign ministry’s responsibility.