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Hope for controversial Cyprus property ownership solution

Property ownership will be a major talking point at the unification talks, Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said. He added that overall he expects the outcome to be positive.

'There has never been so much chance for a solution. Property is a very complex problem. Thirty to 40 years have passed, properties have changed owners many times,' he added.

Both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are very sensitive about this issue and there are a lot of preparatory meetings yet to take place.

There are a lot of hopes being pinned on the talks as property investors are keen to see an end to the divide and a resolution for any owners who may not actually 'own' the titles to 'disputed' property.

It is also hoped there will be an island wide range of agreements for all property owners and this will cover the rental market as well.

The International Property Owners Union is currently campaigning for an end to what it calls 'mediaeval rental regulations'. Stratos Paradias, President of UIPI and the Greek Property Owners Association, said current rental regulations on the island were, 'incompatible with the EU's free market.'

He said they should be lifted, perhaps gradually as happened in Greece, allowing property owners to eject their tenants after a specific time-period has passed.

The UIPI supports the return of occupied properties to their lawful owners and a makeover of the property tax system. 'It is because of the 1974 invasion that we have heavy taxes on land. Capital gains tax co-efficient should be decreased, while land tax and transference fees ought to be abolished,' he said.