By Stefanos Evripidou
IF WE want to see property ownership becoming a privilege of the few, then leave things as they are, said head of the Cyprus Property Owners’ Association Giorgos Strovolides yesterday.
During the association’s general assembly, Strovolides expressed deep concern for the future of the property market noting the flight of investors.
He warned that all the talk of legal regulation of rents and increased taxes was creating a negative environment for the property market and property owners who have seen a massive drop in rent revenue and the value of their properties.
Strovolides questioned efforts to reduce rents by law since owners have already voluntarily reduced rents by 50 to 60 per cent.
“Rents are collapsing and who is seeking protection? Not the owner, but POVEK (small shopkeepers union) and they are actually being heard by some,” he said.
What’s there to discuss when rents are in freefall, he added.
Although legally regulating the rental market could actually halt the decline in rents, the association is in favour of letting the market and the laws of supply and demand set prices, said the association head.
Regarding the immoveable property tax (IPT), he called for a simplified and fairer system of taxing property and recommended a uniform rate without any exemption and taxed per property, not per owner.
He further asked the government to clarify how much revenue it wanted to collect from this tax.
“What’s the target (on IPT), €100m, €150m, €200m?”
He suggested reducing capital gains tax from 20 per cent to 10 per cent, increasing the non-taxable amount, and abolishing transfer fees when there is VAT.
Strovolides also called for the abolition of tax on rents since landlords are the only ones who get taxed double in terms of income tax and the defence contribution they have to make.
“If what we want to see is property ownership to be the privilege of a few again, then we can leave things as they are. If we want to preserve the right to immoveable property ownership, whether that is a residence, holiday home or investment, for the many then certain measures have to be taken in that direction,” he said.
He called for increased dialogue on the issue.