Until recently we believed that title deeds issued by the Republic had the correct area registered and that citizens could rely on them.
However, it seems that suddenly at some later stage, after the purchase of the property, there is a recalculation of the area and the extent increases or decreases. In the first case, the seller may suffer a loss, while in the second, the buyer.
An owner may go ahead and make plans or execute a project based on a building permit based on the calculated registered area and, in the end, at the stage of the certificate of final approval and titles being issued, the land registry recalculates the area and finds a different area. The whole project may have an excess density of that originally envisaged and so titles can’t be issued. Who should be blamed for this situation, the owner who considered a document from the state to be correct, or the land registry, thus the state, who made the original mistake?
When we look into such cases we are told that now with new technology, areas can be measured more accurately, to buy a building factor from a preserved building to overcome the problem or to apply for amnesty and so on. But who will pay the cost of the mistake? It is certainly not the owner’s fault.
We are of the opinion that, apart from when it comes to large, obvious errors like 10,000 sq.m being written instead of 1,000 sq.m, the initial area calculated for the land should be adopted with a note in the title of the new area.
We had a case involving a plot, which on the title was said to be 650 sq.m, with a building permit. The area of the plot was reduced to 570 sq.m and so even though the project had a building permit, it could not proceed. A lawyer advised us to initiate a lawsuit against the land registry. But long legal battles are not really the answer while there is a liquidity problem for the owner and problems paying off the bank. The land registry simply responded they had done a new land registry, while the local land registry in the Famagusta area, where the land was, admitted that based on new land survey, several buildings encroached on neighbouring properties.
Shouldn’t there be some kind of relaxation is some cases to allow projects to proceed.
A directive from the minister of interior on the matter would resolve many of these problems.
Before undertaking a development, a property owner should demarcate their property through the land registry and it is at least at this initial stage that one should have accurate information before proceeding to the next stages of the development.
Mistakes are human, but there should also be solutions for the unfortunate citizens who trust government documents, as they should be able to. If not, then before selling or buying a property, every owner would have to submit an application to the land registry for new survey work, meaning thousands of applications, and probably have to wait one or two years.
In another case, 50 houses were built on a field of 60,000 sq.m and after the project was complete, we suddenly learned that the new area was 58,000 sq.m and therefore a building amnesty of €70,000 should be purchased. And we ask who will pay this amount? And what happens when with new measurements a building is found within a neighbouring plot and the neighbour demands its demolition.
This is a serious problem and requires immediate solutions involving simple procedures.
Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Appraisers & Development Project Managers, www.aloizou.com.cy, [email protected]