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Cyprus property owners upbeat after Sarris meeting

A LOBBY group set up to help people facing problems with property developers and real estate agents all over Cyprus described last week’s meeting with Finance Minister Michalis Sarris as, “rewarding, positive and productive.” The Cyprus Property Action Group, which has over 2,000 registered members, on Friday informed Sarris of the hundreds of complaints made […]

A LOBBY group set up to help people facing problems with property developers and real estate agents all over Cyprus described last week’s meeting with Finance Minister Michalis Sarris as, “rewarding, positive and productive.”

The Cyprus Property Action Group, which has over 2,000 registered members, on Friday informed Sarris of the hundreds of complaints made against developers and estate agents relating to fraudulent dealings in the lucrative property market.

The group, formed last April to deal with the growing problem, told him that a concerning amount of expats were being cheated by dishonest developers and estate agents.

Nigel Howarth is one of the group’s founders and he described the problems as far reaching and added that they cannot be ‘fixed’ by a single government department. “As well as property developers and estate agents, they involve lawyers, planning, property titles, advertising standards, health and safety, law enforcement, banking, etc.”

He said the group spent a long time with Minister Sarris and two senior Civil Servants discussing various property issues.

At the end of the meeting, the Minister asked us to prepare a report outlining the problems and our thoughts on how they may be resolved, which he would then discuss with the Council of Ministers,” he said.

He also pointed out that the group is not working solely on behalf of expatriate property buyers.

One of the many Greek Cypriots who have registered with us recently wrote and thanked us for the information we provided for him, which he said is the most he has received in the last 15 years.”

Peyia’s municipal councillor Linda Leblanc, who is also a member of the action group, said: “Our goal is to work with the government and find solutions. We built our homes in Cyprus, we love Cyprus… and because things are getting a little out of hand, we think it is the right time for action because there are problems now,” she said.

All the people we talk to acknowledge the severity of this issue and everybody involved needs to work together to solve the problem.”

Green Party leader George Perdikis was also present at Friday’s meeting and warned that many foreigners were being duped into making unsafe and dangerous purchases.

He described the situation as “a complex legal and financial problem involving implementation of the law, illegal buildings, title deeds and illegalities that affect the quality of life of buyers and residents.”

Perdikis highlighted the problem had a political aspect as well, given that Cyprus had an image to uphold as a safe place for people to purchase property, and as a country that abides by the rule of law – a factor often used to distinguish the south from the property market in the north.

Denis O’Hare is one of the Cyprus Property Action Group’s founders.

He yesterday told the Mail that many problems are caused by lack of regulations and standard good practices.

We will be proposing that the people involved in the industry will be subjected to more regulations and that the laws in place are enforced,” he said. “If legal action is involved, the process must be made more user-friendly.”

He added that when people from the UK come to Cyprus to buy property, they’re told that the system, especially the legal one, is similar and they therefore put their trust in lawyers and estate agents.

They soon find, to their cost, that this is not the case and the safeguards which they believed were in place, are missing as lawyers do not point out the potential pitfalls.”

He also stated that there may have to be compensation paid out by the government as a last resort to those with no other legal options open to them.

Article 23 of the Cyprus Constitution assures property rights to residents of the island under certain conditions.”

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2007

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