By Bejay Browne
MONTHS after first defying an order banning them from their home, a Paphos family of four is still living at a stricken development in Armou that is slipping down a hillside.
The luxury development is almost deserted with Simon Phillips and his family the only permanent residents living there, despite a ban order which has been placed on all of the homes.
Phillips says he is prepared to be taken to court by the Paphos district office and would even see court action as positive move.
“At least it would be something. There is no viable alternative open to us at the moment and perhaps we would get a sympathetic judge,” Philips said.
Built by JNM developers in 2004, all of the houses have serious structural problems, from slanting floors, to the partial collapse of stairs, walls, swimming pools and patio areas. Outside drains are exposed in one garden and retaining walls have split.
The Sunday Mail attempted to contact the developers for a comment but was informed by an employee that they were ‘unavailable’. JNM has never responded to any requests for a comment on the Armou homes, despite repeated telephone calls and emails since the Mail first reported on the case 18 months ago.
A report by the chairman of Paphos’ Architects and Civil Engineers Association, Chrysostomos Italos was completed in June 2012 and has been handed over to the legal advisers of the homeowners. Italos places the blame firmly on the developer.
“The soil is still moving by millimetres according to the geological department which placed some inclinometers in the area and is carrying out tests every two weeks,” he said yesterday. “I don’t know if this is around the Philllips’ house or not but I will visit the area again this week or next to see if it is much worse or if it has stabilised at all.”
Phillips, his wife, Jen, and their two children are the only family still living at the development.
“The district office of Paphos has made repeated threats of court action against us to try and get us out of our home,” Phillips said. “They start every letter that it’s for my own safety. But we don’t have any options, so we have remained at home.”
A number of the homeowners, who live mostly in the UK, have issued separate court proceedings against the developer.
Evagoras Andreou, of the Paphos district office planning permits department said he couldn’t comment on any action being taken against the developer, merely saying that they were acting in accordance with the law.
Eight months ago homes in the complex had official ban notices placed on them stating the decree would remain in force until such time as repair works deemed necessary by the district officer were carried out. A day later, owners were informed that electricity supply to their homes would be cut but it is still connected.
The homeowner noted that no alternative accommodation has been offered and that if the family moves from their home they would end up on the street.
They paid €250,000 for their home outright and don’t have a mortgage.
Phillips says that although he admits that there are dangers and hazards at his property, he doesn’t believe that the house has moved at all in the last few months adding that he has been keeping a close eye on things.
“I have been measuring the gaps every day and they seem to have stabilised. But representatives of the district offices a couple of months ago said there is movement.”
According to Phillips, the device which reads movement is drilled into the ground at a depth of about 30 metres is 150 metres away from his property.
“This is quite far from my house, so I don’t think the results are correct for my property.”
Phillips says that if JNM were to return his investment, or provide an alternative similar property of equal value he would be satisfied.
He said: “It is very stressful living like this. But as it has been going on for so long now, we have accepted it as part of every day life.”
He added that the situation has a massive impact on his family’s day to day life.
“We never entertain at home. We used to be very sociable, but we’re not any more.
Our children can’t have friends over to play or stay. Even though it’s not our fault it’s embarrassing to live as we do. We just don’t have an adequate expendable income to be able to rent anywhere at the moment.”