I sympathise with the plight of the Parnhams reported in your letters page of last week. Regrettably, problems of this nature are not uncommon when buying Cyprus property.
I personally receive three or four emails a month from people who have been deliberately misled into parting with their money by unscrupulous real estate agents, property developers and lawyers.
If we look at estate agents first, the government has reportedly introduced legislation to outlaw the cowboys. If that is truly the case, then why are the tourist areas still filled with many illegal agents preying on visitors to the island? On their Internet web sites they proudly declare “We are not Estate Agents” – but as far as I’m concerned, if it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck – it’s a DUCK. So why doesn’t the government close them down today? What’s stopping them? Are they afraid they’ll get a bomb under their car or lose the next election?
Turning to ‘property developers’, the first question that has to be answered is why an individual who obviously has no qualifications (apart from being able to mix brandy sours) is allowed to set himself up in business as a ‘property developer’. Is there no qualification-based licensing system Is there no proper authority empowered to regulate the industry?
Maybe I should set myself up in business as a brain surgeon – at least my dissatisfied clients would not be in a position to write to letters of complaint to your newspaper.
And why is it that lawyers, who are so obviously in league with the developers, allowed to represent (I use that word very loosely) their buyers? In any other EU country they’d be marched before their bar association and be disbarred from practicing. Furthermore, the contracts they con buyers into signing are so biased towards the developer they leave the buyer with little or no protection. One contract I’ve recently seen gives the developer an unlimited amount of time to build the property if he is unable to get the labour to build it. The same contract states that the buyer must make payments on specified dates, regardless of any progress made. So this unfortunate person may well find themselves in a position where they’ve paid for the property in full but the developers been unable to build it because he hasn’t got the labour. What comeback does the buyer have – absolutely none!
Cyprus acceded to the EU on the 1st May last year. Joining the ‘club’ not only brought with it some benefits of membership but also a number of obligations. Maybe it should think about cleaning up the property industry now before it loses credibility.
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