Property sales rose by 20 per cent between January and the middle of May, compared to the corresponding period of 2022, according to the head of the Department of Lands and Surveys Elikkos Elia.

During this period, Elia said, there were 987 additional sales documents filed with the department, while mortgages decreased by 35 per cent, dropping to 2,125.

Moreover, in terms of the number of property deeds that remain pending, Elia stated that these amount to 9,500, down from 20,000 in 2021.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), Elia also touched on the recent and devastating cyber attack that rattled the department, saying that all internal operations have been restored, while some services remain unavailable to users outside of Cyprus.

‘No relation between cyber attack and sales figures’

In relation to the figures recorded by the department, Elia stated that sales up to mid-May of 2023 amounted to 6,928, compared to 7,390 in the same period in 2022.

He further mentioned that the sales documents filed with the department reached 5,694 and 4,707 respectively, indicating an increase in their numbers in 2023.

However, he pointed out that mortgage figures declined from 6,058 to 3,933.

According to Elia, these fluctuations observed are primarily influenced by the situation in the real estate market and are not associated with the recent cyber attack.

The department’s operations have returned to normality

Furthermore, Elia explained that following the cyber attack that the department experienced on March 8, 2023, “significant time was required to restore normal operations.”

He added that within a span of less than a week, activities related to transfers, mortgages, and general encumbrance deposits were reinstated.

Moreover, on April 10, the Land Registry Portal was launched in its new form, and two months after the cyber attack, all internal functions of the department were fully restored.

In addition, he pointed out that the interactive features of the Land Registry Portal remain inaccessible to individuals outside of Cyprus due to security concerns.

What is more, the INSPIRE geoportal, which provides specialised access to geographic data, remains closed.

Elia expressed his gratitude to those who played a crucial role in the swift restoration of the department’s operations, particularly the Minister and Director General of the Ministry of Interior, the Deputy Minister and Director General of the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation, and Digital Policy, the IT Services Department, and the Digital Security Authority.

Update on forced registration of title issuance

Meanwhile, Elia explained that the process of issuing title deeds for developments where developers and property entrepreneurs have not proceeded with the necessary steps began around 2006. By 2009, it was estimated that over 100,000 title deeds were pending issuance.

After the implementation of relevant town planning legislation in 2011, approximately 65,000 title deeds were still pending in 2013.

In 2015, in response to demands made by the external authorities monitoring the Economic Adjustment Programme for Cyprus, applications were opened for all developments awaiting title deed issuance, resulting in approximately 45,000 outstanding deeds.

With the initiation of the Recovery and Resilience Plan in 2021, there were 20,000 pending title deeds, which were related to around 1,050 compulsory modernisation applications.

“The commitment outlined in the plan is to examine a total of 16,000 title deeds, representing 80 per cent of the applications,” Elia said.

He further pointed out that under the plan, 10,500 title deeds have been reviewed, out of which approximately 4,700 have been issued, while around 5,800 have been rejected.

“At present, approximately 9,500 title deeds, corresponding to approximately 500 applications, remain pending examination, and the department will need to review an additional 5,500 title deeds,” he stated.

Moreover, Elia told the agency that during the assessment of the 45,000 applications, it became evident that more than 15 per cent of the total developments had significant irregularities.

These included lacking permits, illegal additional units, and incomplete infrastructure projects, among other things, making it impossible to issue title deeds.

“The majority of cases presenting the aforementioned issues are still pending examination under the framework of the Recovery and Resilience Plan, as most problematic cases have remained unresolved over time,” he said.

Lastly, Elias assured that the land registry is exerting “every possible effort” to complete the work and fulfil the commitments it has made.