Local authorities hinder the process of issuing title deeds to trapped buyers, the interior minister said on Thursday, despite legislation passed by parliament in 2015.
The law affects people who paid for their property but did not have a title deed, either because it was mortgaged by the developer, or the state could not go ahead with the transfer because of outstanding taxes.
Socratis Hasikos told MPs that “local authorities have not cooperated to the degree they ought to in order to free the owners.”
For example, he said, a municipality refused to issue final approval for a completed apartment building, either because the developer did not construct a pavement or a green area.
“We have a big problem with local authorities,” the minister said. “It is a matter we must tackle because people should not remain trapped over small issues.”
The law aimed to sort out the mess created by the failure to issue title deeds to people who paid for the property, either because the property was mortgaged by the developer, or the state could not go ahead with the transfer because of outstanding taxes.
Since developers’ land and buildings are counted as assets that need to be offset against their debt to banks, this gave lenders a claim on people’s properties that had been mortgaged by developers.
The law grants the head of the land registry department the authority to exempt, eliminate, transfer and cancel mortgages and or other encumbrances, depending on the case and under certain conditions.
The entire process was meant to take around four months, provided local authorities issued the necessary certificates first.