By Lizzy Ioannidou
Tenants living in apartment buildings behind the Limassol Co-operative Savings Bank on Gladstonos Street in Limassol have been left panic-stricken after receiving warning notices requesting that they leave their homes upon the termination of their rental contracts, and are being threatened with legal action and eviction if they fail to do so.
The notices were sent through the law firm representing Altamira Asset Management (Cyprus) Ltd, a Spanish company which formed a joint venture with the Co-operative Central Bank in 2017 for the management of non-performing loans and real-estate.
The blocks of flats were purchased in the past by the Limassol Co-op Savings Bank as an investment and in line with a social policy that sought to support people who were unable to afford privately-owned homes.
Akel political bureau member Christos Christofides expressed his concern on Thursday regarding the notices sent by Altamira informing tenants of their possible eviction.
Christofides said: “Leaders could have pursued a social policy in the housing sector, but chose instead to hand over the assets (the apartments) to Altamira, creating a huge social issue, since Altamira, with the only criterion of profit, now threatens to evict hundreds of families.” He said the number of affected households ranges from 200-300.
Tenants were informed through the notices that the renewal of their contracts as the stood was not an option and that they are therefore asked ‘to deliver the apartment vacant and free of their possessions, with the keys’.
The recipients are now facing a quandary, having to find new places to live in a city with skyrocketing rental prices, even though many of them have been tenants of the apartments for several years and have been consistent in following the terms of the contracts they signed.
Some of the people affected were able to get in touch with representatives of Altamira informally, in order to express their willingness to accept rent increases within the limits set by law in order to stay in their apartments and not find themselves on the street looking for new housing, given the current difficulty in finding affordable housing in Limassol.
As a result, the tenants were informed that while the owners will not renew their contract, they may accept the drafting of new contracts based on current rental rates, which are high and which are unlikely to be affordable for many of the families facing eviction.
“Apart from the enormous social problem created since many families are threatened with eviction, this development threatens to further inflate the rental bubble in Limassol with wider implications,” Christofides said.