Cyprus’ Real Estate Registration Council revealed on Monday that on average three to nine cases of malpractice within the sector are reported daily in the island.
According to the council’s president Marinos Kynageiros the negative trend in the real estate profession has reached uncontrollable proportions during the last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, as real estate agents who were affected by the closures of their businesses attempted to make a profit illegally.
“In the last year, we have seen a spike in cases of real estate malpractice, which were reported to us by private individuals and other real estate companies alike,” Kynageiros told newspaper Politis.
“In the last five years, over 500 such cases ended up in court and dozens of people working in the real estate industry got eventually convicted for having illegally practised the profession.”
Kynageiros added that the main reason 2020 was particularly bad was linked to the difficulties they faced especially during the lockdown period.
“We receive several complaints every day, but, unfortunately, they are dealt with very slowly in court, due to the notoriously slow justice system in Cyprus,” Kynageiros said.
“Usually, the majority people who are found guilty of malpractice are fined from €400 to €620, which is by no means a significant deterrent, as the fines do not reflect the severity of their actions.
According to Kynageiros, the law states that real estate agents found guilty of malpractice and who are eventually fined, cannot practice the profession until they pay their fine, as their licences get temporarily revoked.
If they fail to comply with the court orders, they risk getting arrested and consequently suspended from the Real Estate Registration Council.
“However, according to our information, this rarely happens and real estate agents who are found guilty of malpractice usually continue to work in their businesses undisturbed.”
Kynageiros added that the issue not only affects private individuals, it also has an impact on the Cypriot economy as a whole, as it gives way to tax evasion.
“However, ultimately, the public are the most affected party,” he said.
“The best way for individuals to protect themselves against all sort of malpractices is to ask the real estate agent to see proof of his qualification and whether he or she is registered at the Real Estate Registration Council.