Opposition parties Akel and the Greens have tabled a legislative proposal aiming to extend a ban on tenant evictions as a special relief measure linked to the coronavirus situation and declines in income.
The current stay on evictions expires on September 30. With the clock ticking, the two parties have rushed through their bill, which would extend the freeze on evictions to the end of the year.
The legislative proposal – an amendment to the Rent Control Law – will be discussed in detail on Wednesday at the House legal affairs committee, where MPs will give their final positions on the matter so that the bill can go the House plenum.
The stay on evictions concerns rents in arrears after February 29, 2020. For any rents not paid prior to that date, the owner may initiate eviction proceedings.
Whereas the stated objective is to protect tenants, property owners say it gives out the wrong signals.
Chairman of the Cyprus Property Owners Association George Mouskides said many tenants take the freeze on evictions as license to stop paying rent during the period in question.
At any rate, not all will benefit from the stay on evictions. Povek, the small shopkeepers association, estimates that some 30 per cent of tenants are not eligible because the Rent Control Law does not apply to them.
In order to come under the Rent Control Law, a property must be located within an area designated by the law as a controlled area; its construction must have been completed by December 31, 1999; and the first rental must have expired or terminated, resulting in the tenant becoming an ‘institutional tenant’ and, therefore, eligible to benefit from the Rent Control Law.
Properties (houses or shops) whose construction was completed after December 31, 1999 and/or are not located in areas that the Law has defined as controlled areas, are not covered.
The first freeze on evictions covered the period March 27 to May 31. It was then extended to September 30.