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Amnesty Laws amended
Property amnesty laws amended
Two amending Laws, namely 33(I)/2012 (Town and Planning Law) and 34(I)/2012 (Streets and Buildings Law) were published in the Official Gazette on Friday 6 April 2012 which in effect extend the deadlines of the so called Property Amnesty, a series of measures to address the problems arising from delays in the issue of title deeds to property owners.
The Property Amnesty laws, which streamline the procedure of applying for title deeds and remove unnecessary obstacles, came into force on 8 April 2011 and set various deadlines for applicants. You can see our earlier item on this matter by clicking here.
The latest amendments extend the time allowed for the submission of a Statement of Intent to apply for the issue of title deeds. Following the amendments, applicants must notify the Ministry of Interior no later than 31 October 2012 of their intention to apply for the legalisation of any irregularities and the issue of title deeds. The formal application must be submitted by 31 December 2014.
The submission of a Statement of Intent does not commit the owner to submit a formal application, but if no Statement of Intent is submitted by 31 October 2012 the right to submit an application is lost.
The key features of the amended legislation may be summarised as follows:
(a) Strict conformity of the building with all relevant regulations is no longer a prerequisite for the issuing of a certificate of registration (title deed). A certificate of registration may be issued for a building with minor irregularities. These irregularities must be recorded on the title deed.
(b) Updated title deeds can be issued, notwithstanding irregularities in construction, provided that an application is submitted to the Building Authority, together with an accurate description of the building and of any deviations from the relevant building or planning permit.
(c) The issuing of a title deed with notes does not render the relevant building compliant with prescribed standards. The Building Authority, the Planning Authority or the Director of the Land and Surveys Department may require action to be taken by the owner to rectify any deficiencies or departures from required standards.
(d) The owner of the development and the supervising architect are required to inform the Building Authority within a specified period of the completion and first use of the building, and of any departures from approved plans and building permits.
(e) The right to take the necessary steps for the legalisation of the development or for the issuing of updated title deeds is no longer restricted to the current registered owner. Either the purchaser (under certain conditions) or the "competent authority" (Planning Authority, Building Authority, or the Director of the Land and Surveys Department) may now initiate the necessary procedures. This addresses the situation where the owner is reluctant or unwilling to fulfil his obligations to apply for title deeds.
(f) Updated title deeds are issued in the name of the original owner, and not in the name of purchasers. Authorities involved in the procedure do not have the power to transfer property rights to purchasers without the owner’s consent. However, once separate title deeds are issued for individual units a development, purchasers will be able to invoke the right of specific performance of the contract of sale by court action against the vendor. The transfer of property to purchasers is performed by the registered owner, either voluntarily, or by an order of the court, issued at the request of the purchaser.
(g) The "competent authorities" may communicate directly among themselves on any actions taken towards the legalisation of the buildings, without the owner’s involvement.
(h) In all three amended laws, the "competent authorities" are empowered to impose administrative fines in cases where the owner is reluctant or unwilling to submit the required declarations or applications for the legalisation of buildings, or irregularities in buildings, or for the issue of certificates of approval or certificates of unauthorised works or updated title deeds, thus encouraging owners to comply with their legal obligations.
For more information please contact Christos Vezouvios.
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