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Cyprus extends Town Planning Amnesty

The Town Planning Amnesty for Cypriot property has been extended until April 30th 2014. Now statements of intent can be submitted under the provisions for another seven months to legitimise minor planning infringements, Cyprus Property News reported. First introduced in March 2011, the amnesty is hoped to address some of the problems that affect the estimated 130,000 properties in the country that are without title deeds.

Real estate owners are now able to 'legitimise' planning infringements after paying a fine, thereby securing a final certificate of approval and the title deed, the newspaper revealed. However, this only applies to minor issues, such as closing up a balcony or building a garage. In cases where irregularities affect third parties, encroach on state property, or are blatant violations, legalisation will not be permitted. When incidents such as these are brought to light, owners will be prohibited from selling a property. However, they will be able to pass it on in their will, Cyprus Property News explained.

Owners are also reminded that the amnesty only applies to existing buildings - such as those that have a planning or building permit (although these may have expired). The building must have been completed before April 7th, 2011 to be eligible.

It is believed 30,000 people brought property outright without title deeds in Cyprus over the last ten years. Of these, around 10,000 are from the UK. Maxwell Alves Solicitors claims this means a prior creditor could also foreclose to recover the debts of the developer or vendor. There are also people that haven't received the properties they paid for, or had the properties delivered with major deficiencies and without promised amenities.

Cypriot property owners are now being told that unless they act immediately any claim or defence they have could no longer be valid. In a bid to address the issue, Alpha Bank is offering a 20 per cent write down if borrowers forgo claims of mis-selling.

George Kounis, a consultant at Maxwell Alves Solicitors, said: "Owners must unite and present a common front. This way, owners will not get conflicting advice and will know whether a 20 per cent offer by a bank is good enough."  
Article by +James Roberts on behalf of