Planning Amnesty

New planning legislation with its temporary provisions can be used to legalize a building constructed before the 8th April 2011 which has no certificate of final approval, avoiding the imposition of administrative fines.

Until 7th October 2011, when the deadline expires., a certificate of final approval for a building or part of it which was completed without any irregularities can be issued ex officio by the appropriate authority or it can be obtained by the holder of the planning permit or by any other person who has an interest in the building, without the need for submitting a statement of intent or an application.

In the case of a building which was completed with minor irregularities, the appropriate building authority with the intent of issuing or updating a title deed, can issue the certificate of final approval with notes referring to the irregularities, which will be recorded in the title deed until they are legalized. Where substantial irregularities exist in relation to the permit, the appropriate authority may issue a certificate of unauthorized works according to which these are recorded in the title deed with notes or a restriction regarding voluntary transfer or encumbrance upon the property affected. The restriction will not apply in the case of succession or donation between relatives, but it is transferred upon the new owners.

Minor or significant irregularities can be legalized, provided a statement of intent is submitted to the Ministry of Interior together with an affidavit by an architect or civil engineer who is a member of the Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber (ETEK). This statement is simple and can be submitted by any interested person, including a purchaser of a holiday house or apartment, containing general information regarding the existing irregularities and it must be attested by the aforesaid affidavit. The existence of a town planning or building permit is a prerequisite for the submission of the statement of intent, even if they expired. The relevant application for legalizing the irregularities must be submitted thereafter with all the necessary documents and plans within a period of three years, which expires on the 7th April 2014. The appropriate authority, after receiving all the required documents, prepares a report and forwards them to the three members Committee for examination and advice.

With regard to the scale and significance of the irregularities which can be legalised, the following can be noted:-

  • existing additions or alterations,
  • increase in the height, number of floors or the coverage ratio of the building,
  • difference in the approved general layout of the development,
  • failure to comply with the minimum required distances from the property boundaries or between buildings,
  • change of use of existing small scale developments,
  • reduction in the surface and the dimensions of existing plots, and
  • failure to complete part of the approved development or incorrect infrastructure construction.

It should be noted that it is to the benefit of every affected person to submit the statement of intent on time, regardless of whether he will proceed with the application or not. It is also worth noting that for those who will apply early, the law provides for a 20% discount on the compensation levy when the application is submitted within the first year period and a 10% discount for application submitted within the second year of the implementation of the law.

No discount will be granted for any application which will be submitted within the third year period. The income from the levies will be given to the local authorities who are obliged to use them exclusively for projects upgrading the environment in areas of development. With regard to the levy to be imposed, there are provisions in the law which will be followed depending on the irregularities.

The persons affected should be cautious and avoid employing certain offices who advertise that they can arrange the issue of title deeds at a fee, because their motive is to make profit. They should employ the services of an architect or civil engineer to assist them, since he is the one who is able and entitled to inspect the property, specify the irregularities, prepare drawings and submit his affidavit along with the statement of intent.

About the author

George Coucounis

George Coucounis is an experienced lawyer practicing in Larnaca, Cyprus. Educated at University College (London) and Thessaloniki University (Greece), George is fluent in English and has been practicing law in Cyprus since 1982.

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