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Change to rent control law would make evictions easier for landlords

MPs on Wednesday appeared to agree on an amendment to the rent control law that would make it easier for landlords to evict delinquent tenants, a near-impossible feat at present.

The amendment, which essentially shifts the burden of proof on to the tenant, will be put to the vote on November 22, according to members of the House legal affairs committee.

Disy MP Nicos Nouris said they finished a discussion of the proposal that aimed to tackle the problems created by certain tenants.

The amendment provides that any tenant who failed to pay their rent will be given a written warning and 21 days to meet their obligations.

If they fail to do so, the owner can launch the eviction process by filing an application with the court registrar.

From that moment, the tenant has 14 days to present the payment receipts or face eviction within a month of their failure to do so if the case concerns a commercial property. In the case of houses, the process takes two months.

Presenting the payment invoices grants tenants the right to defend themselves against eviction.

Nouris said the amendment expedites the process before the courts and shifts the burden of proof on the tenants who would have to present the invoices to the court registrar.

The Disy MP said the excuse that a tenant was withholding the rent because the landlord had not carried out necessary repairs did not constitute a defence. Nouris added there were separate procedures the tenant could follow in such cases, but they could not hold landlords hostage.

The amendment did not deal with the issue of rent increases.

Akel MP Aristos Damianou admitted the current state of affairs was problematic but the proposal could also prove to have issues.

He said putting the power into the hands of the court registrar restricted the right to a defence and took away the court’s authority.

Diko MP Christiana Erotokritou said the existing law allowed people to live on someone else’s property without paying their dues.

It will also compel tenants to ask for receipts, thus contributing in the fight against tax evasion, she added.

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