Once or twice a year in Cyprus we experience heavy rain and storms, which cause damage to the infrastructure and to buildings.
Numerous readers contact my office to ask who the responsible party is that should cover the costs of such damages. The answer is not straightforward, and primarily depends on the cause.
Flooding could happen, in addition to rain of an unusual intensity and duration, due to blocked drains, which seem to attract lots of debris. It could also be caused by construction works or sloping roads, particularly ones leading to building entrances and basements.
Addressing the problem of compensation is not easy. The important thing is whether your insurance policy covers such events. This is a problem in itself since in the event of a claim you will likely be met by a refusal to pay from the insurance company.
In one case we were involved in, the insurance company said that the roof draining system was blocked by leaves leading to the roof flooding and water coming into the apartment as a result. We protested that an owner cannot be visiting their roof every other day to make sure that the roof drains are not blocked. The company then claimed that there was a problem with the drains due to bad workmanship, despite there being no other problems in the 20 years since the building was built.
So, what does one do in such cases?
In a number of cases the government seems to be willing to cover at least part of the costs of such damages. There was a fire in Larnaca that destroyed a number of buildings, and even those without a building permit received compensation. In another case an artist was using a building’s basement as a recording studio. It flooded, damaging her equipment and she asked the government for compensation, which she got!
What we cannot excuse is the uncaring of the insured who do not take such events into account.
Although not directly related, the very recent court decision regarding a house collapsing due to subsidence in Armou village, placed the blame on the government, saying authorities had not carried out their duties.
We need to start thinking about whether the prevailing insurance contracts are one sided and the Commissioner of Insurance, who seems to be living in another world, should increase checks of the practices of insurance companies.
Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Appraisers & Development Project Managers, www.aloizou.com.cy, [email protected]