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€77 million earmarked to tackle housing crisis (updated)

Υπουργός Εσωτερικών – Παρουσίαση
Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said the measures will help the middle class and are focused on the young.

The government on Tuesday announced its plan to tackle ‘the housing problem’ as it said that €77 million will be spent over the next five years.

Some people will be eligible for tens of thousands of euros in assistance for securing housing.

Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said the measures will help the middle class and are focused on the young.

“Beyond just increasing the housing stock available, there will be houses and apartments available at prices to rent or buy which are not prohibitive,” the minister said.

He added that incentives will also be offered to improve the current housing stock under the ‘renovate-rent’ scheme, with the hopes that properties which are not being fully utilised will once again be on the market.

That, he said, follows the advice of the Cyprus Technical Chamber (Etek), which has long called for the large parts of the current housing stock to be renovated and upgraded.

Other incentives to boost the availability of affordable housing are to be offered under the ‘built to rent’ plan. Ioannou said that this will be valid for private properties, with a review of the permit granting process to speed up development.

The minister acknowledged that many, particularly the young and young couples, are facing serious issues due to the housing situation.

“It has clear impacts in other parts of society such as low birth rates,” Ioannou said.

Therefore, he continued, some measures will focus on those under the age of 41 – with one-off payments to help couples buy their first home, while others will receive rent subsidies.

The government will also boost rural development incentives through the allocation of building plots to low-income families.

It was stated that 1,300 beneficiaries have received such assistance since 2019 at a cost of €46m.

He said that plots which were approved in 2013 but not allocated will be immediately made available, while another 300-500 plots will be given out over a three-year period.

Local media reported those eligible for financial assistance are based on the criteria set out by the social welfare services and other related authorities.

Under those criteria, a single person may be eligible for up to €25,000 in assistance, while a couple may get €45,000.

Families of three may get €50,000 and those of four €55,000. Those of five or more may get €65,000.

As for assisted renovation scheme, the government said that it aims to bring “back into the market a total of 1,000 units over a two-year period”.

A one-bedroom residence will be eligible for up to €15,000, a two-bedroom €25,000 and a three-bedroom unit can get €35,000.

The criteria are that the unit must be at least 15 years old and has been vacant for one year prior to the latest announcement.

The latter will be confirmed by the recorded use of electricity which will be deemed at no more than 200 kilowatt hours over the past year.

Renovation works are to be completed within six months of the applications approval, and the unit will have to be rented out at an affordable price to those eligible – for at least four years based on annual contracts.

It added that all available units will be listed on a site which will be launched in the upcoming period.

Landlords renting out under this scheme will be eligible for tax breaks.

Ioannou also referred to other government efforts to boost housing, such as the Ktizo scheme.

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