It is high time a comprehensive solution to the issue of ‘trapped buyers’ is found, the House labour committee concluded on Wednesday, as deputies stressed their determination to tackle the almost 100,000 property owners who remain without their title deeds.
Deputy chairwoman of the committee and Disy MP Fotini Tsiridou said MPs are currently examining an amendment to the existing legislation that can help these homeowners in buying and transferring property.
Most trapped buyers cannot obtain title deeds because developers had mortgaged the land to the bank. Buyers were unknowingly duped into buying property on this mortgaged land even though they paid for their properties in full. As such, they have been barred from obtaining title deeds thus rendering them trapped buyers.
In other cases, title deeds were not issued because of irregularities with developers not adhering to building permits.
Solving the long-standing issue is a prerequisite for the Recovery and Resiliency scheme, Tsiridou noted.
“This bill does not tackle the problem of trapped buyers in its entirety, whether because buyers are trapped because of the mortgage or other illegalities, but it is a regulation towards a right direction. We are discussing it to see if we can improve this framework.”
She added the matter will be discussed at a committee level again, with attendees who can help create the best framework for the buyers.
Asked to comment on the severity of the issue, Tsiridou said there are almost 100,000 trapped buyers but most concern buyers who may be trapped for reasons other than the mortgage.
On a daily basis there are complaints from members of the public who have been trying to solve the problem for decades but have been unable to, she added.
“We hope to see the matter holistically along with statistics, and explore how to best implement the law. Wherever there may be a gap, we want to come in as parliament and add whatever necessary.”
Akel MP Aristos Damianou described the issue as “a scourge afflicting thousands of citizens in Cyprus, as well as third-country nationals, due to the bad and wrongful practices which were carried out between banks and developers.”
The deputy added an additional government-designed bill was discussed at the committee, which aims to adopt a series of new provisions over the procedure on getting a title and transfer.
Akel expressed some concerns, while both the finance and interior ministries have taken on the role to explore the issue.
Diko MP Panicos Leonidou said the legal amendment would be a positive contribution in resolving the problem but it still has some gaps that could be tackled to make it more useful.
He specified the bill as it stands can help if there is a contract and 95 per cent of the payment has been made to the bank, otherwise there would be issues.
“The aim of the bill is to prevent the creation of other trapped buyers, but we need to ensure there are no abuses to the system.”