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High rents reportedly driving uni students to live in the north

The Ayios Dhometios crossing in Nicosia is still open but only TCs can cross until April 1

Students are reportedly renting apartments in the north as the rent in places near universities in Nicosia goes through the roof although the Pancyprian Federation of Student Organisations Pofen on Tuesday said it could not confirm the reports.

Students say the issue brings to the fore the need for more sensible rents and student support while real estate agents put the problem down to the new trend of daily rentals to tourists and lack of legislation to encourage homeowners to rent on a long-term basis.

The issue emerged after OmegaLive news portal reported that social media is full of advertisements for rentals in the north in areas near universities in the government-controlled areas, indicating students who are unable to pay the steep rents in the south choose to search for housing in the north.

Pofen’s chairperson Antonia Frangou told OmegaLive on Monday that they were aware of the situation and that several students studying in the government-controlled areas choose to rent in the north since rents are lower.

Politis too citing a source within Pofen reported that at least three Greek Cypriots have rented apartments in areas in the north near their university but it is mostly third-country nationals who usually choose the option.

The reason these students choose to rent in the north is because they are not able to cope financially since they also have to pay expensive tuition fees, the daily said.

However, on Tuesday Pofen said: “We do not have specific information and we have no further knowledge of this issue”.

It added however that the issue of high rents was a problem for students and that they have submitted proposals for tackling the problem both short-term and long-term.

Frangou told Sigma TV on Tuesday that students renting in Nicosia pay around €550 per month rent plus €150 in utilities in addition to books and other miscellaneous expenses, needing on average between €1,000 and €1,100 every month. She said that a room in a student dormitory starts from €400.

Pofen, she said, has put forth the issue with the education ministry earlier in the year but they were told it was an issue of supply and demand.

She said one solution would be for tax incentives to property owners who rent to students and increasing student rent allowance.

Head of tertiary education parents Kyriacos Nikiforou said the education ministry and universities must be in a position to offer affordable accommodation to students since this is a massive financial burden to families.

“Since we have many universities we must also have adequate accommodation for their students,” he told Sigma.

He added that living costs for students in Greece are half what they are in Cyprus.

Head of the real estate businessmen Marinos Kynegiros put it down to the recent trend among homeowners of opting to rent their property to tourists by the day instead of the traditional long-term rental option.

“The biggest problem is that between 70 and 80 per cent of owners rent daily,” he told Sigma TV.

He added that another problem was that there is no law in place protecting homeowners who rent out their property long-term since in the case tenants for any reason can’t or won’t pay rent there is nothing to be done.

Thus, he said, it is easier for home owners to rent on daily rates than face the risk of not being able to use their property in the case of problems with their tenants.

Kynegiros urged members of the public to rent through real estate agents who are in a position to find apartments at reasonable prices. He also called on legislators to promote a bill on regulating the rent market that has been pending for years.

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