The Audit Office called again on the government to evict people found violating letting agreements for Turkish Cypriot properties on Larnaca’s Mackenzie beach.

This opposes the plan of Turkish Cypriot property custodian, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou, who said the government would sign new lease contracts with businessmen who had been given the properties to sublet from refugees.

Ioannou’s plan to end distortions with the rents and income from these properties had begun to move forward, he said while speaking to Politis radio on Wednesday. Refugees, now essentially taken out of the picture, had been subletting the properties for thousands of euros, while paying the Turkish Cypriot management service a pittance for the use of the land.

For its part, the Audit Office said the letters and subletters found guilty of using the properties illegally and in violation of contract should be evicted. This echoes their response last year when Ioannou’s proposal had come to light.

“We call again on the government to demonstrate the necessary will to crack down on illegalities and not to reward those who break the law, in a way that is not even compatible with existing legislation,” they said.

“The custodian should proceed to recover the T/C properties for which there is no legal lease contract, and these should be allocated following open and transparent procedures.”

According to information last year some refugee tenants paid only €500 yearly rent while subletting for €4,000 a month.

On Tuesday while commenting on the plan for the property management, Ioannou said these measures aimed to “significantly reduce the injustice that existed until now against Turkish Cypriot real estate owners”.

The process of improving the management of Turkish Cypriot assets has been ongoing since August 2023, Ioannou said, and the lease contracts for 3,211 properties – two thirds of the total used for professional purposes – have been audited, with lease violations found in 416 contracts.

Measures have already been promoted to recover the properties, he added.