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President refers law extending eviction ban, ‘no longer justified’

President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday referred the law passed by parliament on October 9 which extends the suspension of any eviction proceedings against tenants until the end of 2020.

In his letter to parliament, the president said that, the previous ban on evictions of non-paying tenants up to May 31 which was extended up to September 30, 2020, could be justified because during that period when parliament voted, universal measures were imposed to restrict the movement of citizens, something that was not the case when the law was passed in early October.

He also said that extending the ban on eviction proceedings, was contrary to the freedom to contract as enshrined in Article 26 of the Constitution, to the principle of separation of powers and to the right of access to justice provided in article 30.1 of the Constitution.
Anastasiades notes that the principles governing intervention to the right to contract have been examined in several referrals of the President of the Republic by the Supreme Court, and referred to a case where “it was emphasised that the right to contract freely includes the right to formulate the content of the contract at the free will of the parties.”

“The subsequent intervention of legislators is not compatible in principle with the freedom of the contracts. Exceptions may be justified to the extent permitted by the Constitution,” he said.

In this case, he said, the explanatory memorandum by parliament does not state any justification based on the principles of contract law.

“The general and vague reference to the protection of the right to housing and the dignified living of tenants who have become financially and socially vulnerable due to the ongoing crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, on the contrary, violates the principles of contract law,” he said. He explained that it means the legislature intervenes in an already formed contractual relationship between two parties, which includes the right to regain possession as enshrined in the tenancy law of 1983.

He added that the suspension of the eviction procedure creates an inadmissible and unjustified obstacle to the access of the owners of the premises to the Court since “an arbitrary and unreasonable restriction of the owners’ access to the court is set and therefore the provisions of Article 30.1 of the Constitution are violated.”

 

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