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Illegal charges claimed by developers
By George Coucounis

Some developers continue to violate the law by inventing certain ways to claim money from innocent purchasers who find themselves in a difficult position and give in to the unreasonable demands of the obliged vendors. In their effort to sell their property which has no separate title deed, they have to satisfy the vendors, who claim a lot of money for cancellation fees in order to give their consent for the re-sale of the property, although they are to be blamed for the delay in the issue of the deeds. They do not accept the re-sale to be completed unless they are firstly paid cancellation fees which are not proportional to the service they provide the original purchaser, despite him securing the tax release certificate. Under the circumstances, the purchaser is afraid that he will lose the opportunity to re-sell the property and gives in to the vendors’ unreasonable and illegal charges, being taken advantage of. Unfortunately, the government is not in a position to intervene in order to give immediate and effective protection to the purchaser.

Another charge imposed by some vendors is the so-called “administration fees” which is claimed for the transfer of the title deed to the purchasers. Despite being the responsibility of the vendor to issue the separate title deed at his own cost and expense and transfer the property into the name of the purchaser, the vendor claims money to do so. It should be noted the case of a developer who claimed and received money from his clients – purchasers to submit the letter of intent related to the building amnesty. The aforesaid procedure is offered to the purchaser by law where the obliged vendor does not issue the separate title deeds. He took advantage of the purchasers to receive money for his omission to comply with his contractual obligations to issue the deeds. He even sent a letter to the purchasers stating that he is offering them a service and when he was asked why he did it, he replied that he was in need of money to pay his architect to issue the separate title deeds. In another case, purchasers were asked to pay the immovable property tax based on the purchase price of the property instead of its value as at 1.1.1980. Many purchasers do not accept all these and they strongly protest and refuse to pay.

The exaggeration is also found with regard to the communal charges where some vendors are claiming a few thousands of euros per year for their own benefit, without providing the purchasers with any services. What can be said about those vendors who have not even started building the properties sold, even though they were paid a long time ago and the purchasers claim their money back without success? These vendors unlawfully keep the money and refuse to refund it to the purchasers. Recently, a developer claimed a lot of money more than the market value of a holiday house and when the prospective purchaser realized it and did not proceed with the purchase, the vendor reduced the price by 30% within days. The purchaser cannot believe it; he purchased a property from another developer and is commenting negatively on the fact.

The aforesaid incidents defame the property market, the developers and the country, especially now that the economic crisis affects the building industry. Certainly, some of the aforesaid cases will be brought before the Courts, since this is the only way the developers who act illegally will refrain from doing so. However, it should be noted that the majority of the developers act prudently, respect their clients and they are well-established in the market. The new purchasers are aware of their rights, do they research, take information and choose the property and the vendor to co-operate with. They also seek independent legal advice in order to safeguard and protect their rights and do not give in to the terms set out by the vendors. The real interest of the developers is well-served through proper behavior and respect to their clients and the market.

George Coucounis is a lawyer and leading partner of George Coucounis LLC, a legal firm based in Larnaca -Cyprus
E-mail: coucounis.law@cytanet.com.cy  |  www.coucounislaw.com  | tel.:- 24818288.
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