Cyprus Mail
Property

Sneaky tenants and bad landlords

rent

Cyprus has a problematic legal system through which it takes a very long time to secure a court decision, with the end result being that those in the wrong get away with it much of the time.

Delays in legal procedures are exploited by those ‘in the know’, such as lawyers, tenants, bailiffs or otherwise.

Regarding landlords and tenants in a dispute the situation is all the worse.

A recent court decision in Cyprus that the tenant may not pay even if they agree with the prevailing rent, be it not the differentiation of the amount, is a disaster for landlords.

Regarding statutory tenants, the recent amendment to the relevant law helps. Though there has been some confusion caused by another high court decision on the subject, redefining what a statutory property is.

To start legal procedures for eviction, the suing party must serve the other a court summons through a court bailiff. This is not as easy as it sounds, as the party in the wrong hides from bailiffs and it might take months for them to be found and served.

In a recent case that my office was involved in, the tenant had his whole family covering up for him, as well as his workplace. The imaginative bailiff cut the electricity supply to the property and when the tenant went to check his electricity meter, the bailiff was there waiting.

Is this the way to do it? Why isn’t serving people via email or post not acceptable? What if the tenant is not in the country, how can they be served?

In the meantime the tenant stays in the unit, and this continues for the two to three years it could take to secure a court decision. In this time they do not pay rent or common expenses, which fall to the landlord and don’t look after the property well.

If the landlord gets back the property, they need to spend a substantial amount of money to do the place up. Some tenants, upon eviction, even steal installations (in one case all ceiling fans, the TV and the cooker.

Some landlords give discounts or even pay tenants to get rid of them.

All this leads to social and financial issues for the landlord. They might need the rental income to pay their debts, for their children’s schools and so on. Sometimes it will cause problems with financiers who finance the disputed or another property on the same or other loans. A mess indeed.

However, Cyprus is not alone. More advanced countries, such as the UK, with a model legal system which other countries follow (including Cyprus), have similar issues.

There was a case in the UK of a landlord committing suicide after being left homeless. A UK Cypriot who inherited his house in the UL, let it out and then discovered the whole house and garden were being used to produce drugs. The repair of the house run into the thousands, not covered by the insurance. In another UK case the tenant had kennels in the property’s garden for dog breeding and even in this case it took the landlord four years to get the tenant evicted.

Landlords are no angels either mind you. There are cases of indifference, not making repairs, not addressing issues promptly are some issues.

There was a case of a landlord letting an apartment to a company, which then put eight employess into the two bedroom apartment. The landlord knew and charged them another 50 euros a head. When other tenants in the building realised they called the police to complain. The tenants were evicted. In cases like this of overcrowding and danger to health, eviction orders can be secured, but one needs the local authority’s support and certification.

In another case, the tenant was renting the house to host private parties, charging €5 entrance fee, plus drinks cost. The Police said they needed proof, so the landlord installed CCTV which showed the gatherings. Police then said there was an invasion of the tenant’s privacy and did not want to get involved. Yet, at the same time, if something happens in a neighbourhood, the police ask neighbours for their CCTV videos, which might help in solving the crime.

 

Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Appraisers & Development Project Managers, www.aloizou.com.cy, [email protected]

 

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