Around 15 homeowners in Limassol have responded to a call last week from Tepak university to help students from out of town who are struggling somewhere to live as rents in the town continue to escalate.

The lack of apartments and the rental price increases, especially for the new academic year, often lead to exploitation by landlords, head of Tepak student welfare services Vassilis Protopapas told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) on Tuesday, adding that with students despairing at the situation, the only realistic solution was to make a plea for Limassol families to open their homes to the students.

Homeowners who make a room available are paid €200 a month.

“We would ideally like hosts who are not doing it for the money, although it is understandable that that is a motivation,” said Protopapas, emphasising that the programme has in place strict policies, codes of conduct, and procedures so that all parties feel safe.

“We inspect the accommodation before introducing students, the students will get to know the hosts, so that everyone is sure about this cohabitation,” he said, adding that the same procedure works successfully in many countries abroad.

Asked about locations, Protopapas said that, ideally housing offered would be situated near the city centre close to Tepak, but if this is not possible, then it would be preferable to be close to a public transport link as many students do not own vehicles.

A more permanent solution to the issue of student housing is underway through the development of the former British settlement Berengaria in Kato Polemidia, where student residences with a capacity of approximately 700 beds are expected to be built.

The plans have been finalised, Protopapas said, and Tepak will put out bids so that construction work can begin in 2023, with completion expected within a three-to-four-year period.

The ‘affordable roof’ housing project that the municipality of Limassol continues to promote, in collaboration with the Cyprus land development organisation, is also expected to relieve the situation, through the construction of 600 residential units.

Limassol mayor Nicos Nicolaides told CNA that work on the first apartment building, in Ayios Nikolaos, is anticipated before the end of the year.

At the moment Tepak can only offer accommodation to 285 students while there is a need for 1,200 rooms. Of the 285 rooms Tepak has available, 80 are located in the city centre and 205 in the student residences developed by the Archbishop.

Meanwhile, property owners in Limassol are asking for rents upwards of €800 and up to €1,200 for a two-bedroom apartment.