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New law in Cyprus will leave up to 100,000 property owners with no title deeds

It is a major blow for property investors on the Mediterranean island, many of them foreigners, as the government has promised to sort out the mess which dates back decades in some cases.

The Cypriot government confirmed that the new law will have no bearing on old transactions which means that buyers remain at the mercy of the developer who sold the property to them and the banks that hold their title deeds as collateral for loans.

It is estimated that up to 100,000 buyers may have paid fully for their properties but have no legal document to prove that they own it. This also means they cannot sell it. Around 30,000 of them are foreign investors most of whom are British.

They believe that the government has not only ignored their plight but has gone back on a pledge that the new law would help everyone.

Campaigners described the revelation as a 'bitter blow' which leaves them with no option but to seek some kind of redress through the courts system which is likely to be lengthy and expensive.

They also hit out at the fact that they heard about the situation via the House of Lords in London. They believe that the Cypriot government had no intention of clarifying the position until British peer Lord Jones of Cheltenham demanded clarification.

As a result British High Commissioner Peter Millet sought a written response from Neoclis Sylikiotis Minister of the Interior. A statement said; 'The Minister was fully aware of the problem of obtaining title deeds, an issue which also affects a large number of Cypriots. The Cyprus Government will introduce legislation to speed up the issuing of title deeds, but this legislation will only apply to future cases.'

In February British Foreign Secretary David Miliband revealed that the British High Commissioner to Cyprus had 'received assurances' from the Cypriot Interior Ministry that they would introduce a bill to address the situation soon. At that point there was no mention of the new law relating only to future transactions.