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Municipality wants power to deal with bad landlords

balcony 2
File photo: Balcony collapse in Paphos

Nicosia municipality urged deputies to crack down on what it says were weaknesses in current legislation, which led to derelict buildings that were increasingly dangerous being rented out.

In its announcement on Monday, the municipality specifically referenced the collapse of balconies two weeks ago in Paphos, which led to people suffering serious injuries, noting that Nicosia had a significant number of buildings in similarly bad shape.

The municipality said it has pressed for changes and issued proposals – such as requiring certificates of suitability to be obtained as a requirement for any lease agreement. Those certificates would be secured following inspections carried out by officials from Etek (Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber).

It also proposed that rent controls on listed buildings be abolished – thus offering incentives to landlords to invest in old properties – and for local authorities to be granted greater powers to handle the situation with such buildings.

The municipality noted that its proposals were made during the parliamentary debates about the local government reform, but that all parties except for Dipa voted against them.

And while there were tools currently at the municipality’s disposal, there were major deficiencies in their deployment that severely reduced their effectiveness.

Its main prong to prod landlords who, for whatever reason, do not renovate or take good care of their buildings, would be for the municipality to proceed with the necessary works and bill the landlords.

Such a move, however, meant that landlords would get to enjoy the benefits of private ownership at the cost of the taxpayer’s, which it argued could be better used elsewhere.

The municipality also noted that fines could be issued to landlords who shirk their responsibility to carry out renovations, but the process often gets bogged down in bureaucracy. It can take years for the fines to be finalised, the municipality said, as appeals and objections are heard -meaning that the measure becomes ineffective.

Faster fines would make a major difference to the standard of the buildings in cities, the municipality said.

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