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Efforts to combat illegal real estate agents stepped up

Court orders have been issued against a number of unregistered estate agents in Cyprus, some of whom appear to be British, to stop them from practising until a final adjudication of their cases has been made.


SEVERAL court orders prohibiting unlicensed estate agents from practising in Cyprus have been issued by District Courts in Limassol, Paphos, Nicosia and Larnaca.

The orders require the defendants, some of whom appear to be British, to suspend their business operations until a final adjudication of their cases has been made. Failure to comply with the orders could result in the “confiscation of assets or even imprisonment”, according to the President of the Council of Real Estate Agents, Dinos Soteriou.

(The Council carries a prominent notice on its website warning of the potential consequences of operating as an Estate Agent without a valid license).

To comply with the European Union Acquis Communautaire, Cyprus introduced a new law on 17th July 2010 that removed restrictive practices that penalized estate agents from other EU-member states wishing to practice on the Island.

Readers' comments

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  • Costas Apacket says:

    Peter, it sounds like you are doing whatever you can to protect your business, well done.

    Just to clarify, I am not against well run and ethical estate agents in Cyprus or anywhere else for that matter, in fact my comments were in support of you and your colleagues in getting a fair deal from the Cypriot dominated Council of Real Estate Agents.

    I would like to see more Estate Agents who promote only properties with full Legal Title Deeds and who charge a competitive fee that reflects what they actually do, not the rip off fees currently charged by most Estate Agents in Cyprus.

  • Peter Howard says:

    Nigel. thanks for your help and suggestions, however I have a very good Lawyer from Nicosia working on my behalf. An EU commissioner working on behalf of a well known agent in Larnaca – has written to the Cyprus Government asking them to explain why EU law is being ignored – no answer yet !!

    I am applying to the Supreme Court, which could take a long time – but it seems that in the meantime I should close my business. Incidentally Injunctions were issued against 17 agents last week forcing them to close.

    Many of your commentators like Costa Packet seem keen to see agents go – but who will sell properties to foreign people? Reputable agents like us spend a great deal of money promoting properties in the UK and elsewhere – Rightmove does not come cheap! Property will remain unsold and prices will deteriorate further – and then many more cases of hardship! Incidentally most of the properties that we market have Title Deeds, or we use a good lawyer to check everything. After 7 years – no complaints or problems!!

  • Costas Apacket says:

    This just smacks of another anti-competitive, protectionist move to try and maintain the unwarranted fees that Cypriot estate agents charge for doing very little.

    They are all fighting over the scraps of what they have created.

    The Government have tried to help the flagging incomes of Architects and Lawyer by introducing the Amnesty Laws, so don’t be surprised if the Government now brings in a new law making it illegal to sell a property in Cyprus without going through a registered member of the Council of Real Estate Agents.

  • @Peter – If you consider that the law has not been applied correctly or feel you have been discriminated against, you should appeal to the Supreme Court.

    Maybe before doing that you should write to the Ombudswoman who will investgate.

    If all fails you can go to the ECHR.

    (I have copy of the latest law, in Greek. If you think it would help your case, contact me via the contact page and I’ll send you a copy).

  • Peter says:

    Nigel

    Thank you for pointing out the EU press release which shows that people who are qualified in another EU country, can legally operate here – unfortunately we are in Cyprus !!!

    I am selling property through an office, where we have a prominent presence and can offer a good after sales service – I am not hiding away or operating from an apartment !!

    I have been to court and found guilt of being an ‘illegal agent’ fined € 2,300 and told to close my business or face jail. In court I showed that I had operated a surveying business and sold property in the UK, and therefore fully qualified to operate here in Cyprus under EU law – the judge refused to accept this and I was found guilty!! In court the Cyprus Real Estate Agents Association said that they had more than 300 licensed agents – they were asked to tell the court how many English people are registered – they could only name one!!! A number of us have tried to get a license – but been ignored.

    I totally agree with a licensing system for honest people dealing with property – but a system that grants a license to Cypriots – and refuses all English people – is obviously ridiculous!! The stated aim, according to the Inspector – is to close all English estate agents. Unfortunately it is generally the English agents who advertise and promote properties in the UK and the continent, and bring buyers to Cyprus.

    As I am sure that you know Nigel, many of the prominent English agents in Paphos, as well as smaller ones, have already closed and gone away – and more will follow. At a recent informal meeting, it was agreed that up to 1,500 people no longer have an agent selling their property – and probably not aware of this. Surely another blow to the property industry in Cyprus.

    To sum up, I am honest and never been in court before, experienced in property in the UK, lived here 7 years, and not had complaints – yet I am found guilt in court – for being English !!!

  • Robert Briggs says:

    I imagine with the ghastly property scene reputation Cyprus has now achieved, with its endless horror stories now known on the web and other media throughout the planet. These property sales agents both “legal” & “illegal” are having a lean time. The party is truly over!

  • Nick - Larnaca, Cyprus says:

    For the regular punter seduced into buying a property in Cyprus, if it looks like an estate agent, trades like an estate agent and quacks like an estate agent – it is an estate agent to all practical intents and purposes.

    Unless all the licensed agents are as pure as the driven snow, it might be prudent to reserve judgement on who can best be trusted in this games of charades?

  • @Peter II – I suggest that you read the EU press release dated 16 February 2011 – Internal market: unjustified restrictions on estate agents’ activities in Cyprus removed.

    If you have the necessary qualifications to fulfill the entry requirements, regardless of in which EU country those qualifications were gained, there isn’t a problem.

  • Peter II says:

    Ref:

    To comply with the European Union Acquis Communautaire, Cyprus introduced a new law on 17th July 2010 that removed restrictive practices that penalized estate agents from other EU-member states wishing to practice on the Island.

    No they haven’t, they are still insisting you need a degree (from anywhere) to be considered to join the council. The Estate Agents Register is a closed shop to protect those who already practice it. It bears no resemblance to protecting anyone but the agents already in it. It is practically impossible to get a licence today as the agents with licences are ‘sub letting’ them to many other non registered persons. The whole thing is a farce. regulation I welcome, but make it achievable. Before 2007 you did not require any degree and specialist knowledge. Someone is just covering his backside within the government to ask for such credentials. A persons honesty does not come with a piece of paper, just because someone is ‘registered’ is a false sense of security. The system is corrupt and another example of this country’s aim to protect its jobs for the boys and especially the locals.

    There are many a fine people who can do this job, but cannot get licensed. Sure, just go to one of the ‘registered’ companies and be a broker, suddenly you are worthy to trade, whereas before you were not, come on, it makes a mockery of the whole thing.

    It is a sham pure and simple.

  • John Swift says:

    So many people jumped on the bandwagon during the ‘Happy Times’ the same applied to rental companies.

    We answered an advert regarding long term rental and got well and truly ripped off and it wasn’t a Cypriot company but an Ex-Pat Brit who ran the business who was trading illegally. When our solicitor checked on her she wasn’t registered even the rental agreement was severely flawed (actually in our favour).

    The problem is that when you expose these people on the Cyprus forums they are invariably a friend of a forum sponsor which then leads to you being banned or they withdraw their sponsorship.

  • Peter says:

    The ‘Council of Real Estate Agents’ appear to put regulations in place to protect members of the “Boys Club”.

    Their excuse is that they need to protect the public and those buying houses.

    What they don’t understand is the Estate Agent’s client is the seller and not the buyer. No man can have two masters, and the master is the seller. The Estate Agent owes no duty of care either morally or legally to the buyer of property. You buy at your own risk ‘caveat emptor’.

    But fortunately for him the buyer has, looking after his interest, an honest well trained, qualified and registered Cypriot Lawyer.

  • andyp says:

    There is a register, The Register of Advocates.

    This is supposed to record all guilty verdicts against Advocates. It is maintained by the Chief Registrar whoever that might be.

    No doubt the naughty book will be kept well away from really interested parties i.e. the public.

  • @Gavin – One of the companies on the list has already started legal action against the source of the information; as a consequence I have removed the complete list – someone has obviously made a serious mistake.

    It would be useful to publish a list of lawyers who failed to protect their clients interests correctly. But I believe the only way that their clients could be reimbursed for the their losses would be (a) a successful claim against the lawyer’s insurance or (b) a successful court action.

  • Gavin Jones says:

    I’m sure we all look forward to the Cyprus Bar Association doing something similar.

    Namely, publishing a list of lawyers who’ve failed to advise their clients of hidden mortgages when conducting searches prior to real estate purchases. Presumably the lawyers will then be struck off but not before reimbursing these clients’ losses.

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