Mandatory Land Splitting Among Joint Property Owners in Cyprus – The Role of the Department of Lands and Surveys.
In situations of disagreement among joint property owners in Cyprus, disputes can emerge regarding land division due to various factors like financial inequality, utilization, sale of the property, and other personal issues, often resulting in certain lands lying idle for long durations. The Immovable Property Law (Tenure, Registration and Valuation) (Cap. 224) stipulates frameworks for the compulsory splitting of land, aiming for an equitable allocation and dispute resolution. This narrative delves into the pertinent statutes, method for compulsory land splitting in Cyprus, and the pivotal role of the Department of Lands and Surveys in Cyprus and its Director in managing disputes between joint owners.
Pertinent Statutes – Immovable Property Law
The predominant statute regulating land division in Cyprus is the Immovable Property (Tenure, Registration and Valuation) Law (Cap. 224), as amended. This law elaborates on the protocols and processes for the registration, valuation, and conveyance of immovable assets, including co-owner land partition in Cyprus.
Significance of the Department of Lands and Surveys
The Director of the Department of Lands and Surveys in Cyprus assumes the fundamental role in resolving conflicts that arise from distributing undivided land shares. Any legal co-owner has the ability to submit an application, calling for the partition of land ownership with the Department of Lands and Surveys Director.
Procedure for Enforced Division through the Department of Lands and Surveys
Submission of Ownership Separation Application
As per Cypriot law, the Director of the Department of Lands and Surveys possesses the authority to manage disputes amongst co-owners and facilitate land division among them. The Director’s core duty is to safeguard the property rights of all involved parties and oversee a just and transparent division process. Of course if Co-Owners come to an agreement prior then a separate procedure is followed by hiring a local topographer approved from the Department of Lands and Surveys and whom has his license renewed through ETEK Scientific Technical Chamber of Cyprus.
To initiate ownership separation, a co-owner must submit an application to the Director of the Cyprus Department of Lands and Surveys, which should comprise of the following:
- A detailed description of the immovable property. (Can be found on the tile deed)
- The applicant’s ownership share.
- Details of all additional co-owners and their shares.
- The reasons for requesting ownership separation.
Examination and Investigation on the Property
With prior notification and in the presence of the involved parties, the Director of the Land Registry Office, or their delegated representatives, will conduct an on-site inspection and investigation. The examination proceeds as scheduled even if a co-owner is absent.
The Director initiates an investigation to assess the property’s value, determine the viability of land division, and consider other pertinent factors. Specialists or commissioners may be appointed by the Director to aid in the investigation and valuation phases.
After concluding the investigation, the Director proposes an ownership separation plan which could involve:
- A tangible property division: The suggested division would assign distinct land portions to each co-owner, correlating with their respective shares.
- A mandatory sale: If tangible division is deemed impractical or nonviable, a forced sale of the property might be proposed, dividing the proceeds among the co-owners based on their shares through a public auction and a specific procedure that it is followed for the public auctions.
- Compensation: In specific instances, compensation from one co-owner to another might be proposed by the Director to equalize property value distribution.
Property Allocation as per Co-Owners’ Preferences
In scenarios without disputes among co-owners, the Director might allocate plots as per the desires of the involved parties.
Valuation and Financial Settlement of Minor Co-Owners
Minor co-owners, with shares too small for plot allocation, are valued by the Director of the Department of Lands and Surveys in Cyprus, with the remaining co-owners compensating the minor co-owner. The Director holds the right to inform co-owners about the distribution outcomes.
Legal Recourse and Objections
Co-owners are entitled to challenge the Director’s ownership separation proposal. In case of objections, the Director will reconsider and may adjust the proposal accordingly. Unsatisfied co-owners can challenge the Director’s decision in the District Court within a defined timeframe.
Partition Through Majority Ownership
An application for partitioning an undivided plot can be lodged by a 60% majority of the land’s co-owners. This provision bypasses potential barriers caused by certain co-owners maintaining a minimal plot share percentage.
Public Auction Sale
In instances where land division isn’t viable or co-owner consensus can’t be reached, the property might be sold via public auction. Proceeds from the auction will be distributed among the co-owners, aligned with their respective shares, under the oversight of pertinent authorities to guarantee transparency and equitable proceeds distribution.
Alternate Dispute Resolution Approaches
Prior to appealing to the Land Registry Office Director, co-owners are encouraged to first attempt resolving their discrepancies via negotiation or mediation, as these methods are generally more cost and time-efficient compared to legal proceedings and might preserve relationships among involved parties. Co-owners can either negotiate directly or enlist a mediator to facilitate discussions towards a mutually agreeable resolution.
Michalaki, Pitsillidou & Co LLC Expert Services
Recognizing the complexities in enforcing land or plot division, Michalaki, Pitsillidou & Co LLC is dedicated to delivering thorough legal services and otherwise to property co-owners in Cyprus.
Our services encompass of the following since we are consider to be Experts in Property Law and Property Valuation in Cyprus:
- Legal Advice: We provide proficient advice and navigation regarding co-owners’ rights and responsibilities under the Immovable Property Law and optimal strategies for dispute resolution.
- Negotiation and Representation: Our adept property attorneys can represent co-owners in negotiations with other parties, striving to achieve a harmonious resolution that respects all parties’ rights and interests.
- Division and Distribution Agreement Preparation: We assist in formulating Division and Distribution Agreements, which upon being signed by all co-owners, can be filed to the Land Registry alongside an application for plot division and separate title deed issuance. Specific instructions are always given to the Approved Topographers on how to draft the cadastral plan.
- Application Preparation and Filing Assistance: We aid in formulating and filing necessary applications with the Department of Lands and Surveys Director, ensuring all documents are precise and complete to hasten the procedure.
- Support During On-Site Inspections: Our Lawyers can accompany co-owners during on-site inspections carried out by the Land Registry Office Director, offering legal advice and support throughout. Its is worth saying that our Property Lawyers are dealing heavily with Property Law for almost 30 years.
- Support in Valuation and Payout: We can assist co-owners in securing fair valuations for their land shares and facilitate the payout process for minor co-owners, ensuring equitable and smooth property distribution. Our Property Lawyers have also specific knowledge and education in Land Valuation and they are also members of (RICS) the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
- Legal Representation During Appeals and Legal Proceedings: Should disagreements or appeals against the Director’s decision arise, our skilled legal practitioners can represent co-owners in District Court proceedings, defending their rights and interests. It is worth saying that our Property Lawyers handled more than 6000 property disputes till today.
- Ongoing Legal Support Post-Division: After land division, we provide continued legal support in matters like obtaining a new Title Deed, managing any disputes stemming from the new property allocations, and providing advice on selling or developing the newly divided land.
In Cyprus, the enforced division of land is guided by legal procedures crafted to defend co-owners’ rights and guarantee equitable property distribution. The Director of the Land Registry Office is pivotal in resolving co-ownership disputes, delivering resolutions that prevent protracted judicial and extrajudicial processes. Our Legal and Technical knowledge on property matters is always proven catalytic in resolving disputes since solutions can always be given to the Coowners prior ending up in lengthy legal and otherwise procedures.