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Property Disputes in Cyprus: What to Do
Information on the legal system in Cyprus with regards to property disputes and the correct legal steps to be followed. Details on the types of property disputes that most commonly arise, and how to resolve them...
The causes of property disputes arising can be varied, but some of the most common property disputes in Cyprus are:
Once possession has been taken, the contract of sale becomes the key document to refer to in order to ascertain the outcome of any such dispute. The contract of sale outlines the property purchaser's rights and provides the solution to many such developer property disputes.
A well drafted contract ought to give a detailed description of exactly what is included in the purchase, listing all relevant particulars in order to ensure that there can be no argument as to materials used and so on. Furthermore a good contract will ensure a warranty period is provided by the developer during which any faulty workmanship or fittings will be replaced. The contract should be clear regarding date for delivery and damages payable for late delivery.
Provided that a lawyer negotiated a solid contract of sale on behalf of the buyer, property disputes with developers can often be amicably and quickly resolved by reference to the agreement.
In such cases the law (Article 58, Immovable Property and Tenure Law Cap 224) provides that it will be for the Director of the Land Registry to make a final decision as to the exact boundary. This can be achieved by placing land markings which will show precisely where one plot ends and another begins. When such a decision is made by the Director, an appeal may be made against it within 30 days.
Wherever possible, it is obviously preferable for the parties to negotiate a settlement as to where the boundary lies (be it with or without having to readjust the registered common boundary). However, it is important to note that even in such cases the Director of the Land Registry must still issue a decision as to where the boundary lies.
In such cases the affected party may have a claim under the Civil Wrongs Law (Cap 148) that the conduct in question constitutes a "nuisance". Nuisance refers to an unlawful interference with a person's reasonable use and enjoyment of their immovable property or a right relating to it. The affected party needs to show that they have suffered damage as a result of the nuisance and it is for them to prove that there is such interference. It is no defence for the party causing the nuisance to claim that the nuisance existed before the affected party took ownership of the affected land.
The Court will decide a case by seeking to strike a fair balance between the rights of the person affected by the nuisance to enjoy their land, and the rights of the person causing the nuisance to use their land for their own lawful purposes.
Each of the unit owners of a building must contribute towards the expenses necessary for the insurance, maintenance, restoration and management of the jointly owned property and the calculation for the proportion of each unit's share can often cause conflict. The proportionate use of the facilities is irrelevant and in fact each unit owner is responsible for a share which will be determined on the basis of the area of his unit.
If any unit owner does not comply with their obligation to contribute to the insurance and upkeep of the building then the Management Committee may take legal action against them to recover the outstanding sums.
A commonly encountered problem faced by many Management Committees (particularly where a number of the units are owned for the purposes of holiday lets) can be tracking down the owners and ensuring contributions are made. And while the Committee does have powers to sue in such cases, the costs of bringing legal action mean it is only really worth taking action where the outstanding sums are sufficiently serious to justify the costs of litigation.
Some steps can be taken to protect a new owner from encountering property dispute problems:
Instruct an independent lawyer and make sure that they:
- Negotiate a solid contract of sale which clearly sets out the buyer's rights and expectations from the developer in relation to warranties, etc.
- Fully investigate the title to the property.
- Include detailed plans in the agreement clearly setting out boundaries.
- Investigate the purchase fully.
Visit the property at different times of the day in order to ascertain whether there are any potential nuisance factors.
- Know your rights.
- In the event that a dispute occurs, take independent legal advice on your position;
- Speak with the lawyer about the possibility of negotiating a settlement with the other party, in order to avoid the cost and timeframes associated with litigation.
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