Latest Headlines

Paphos family unable to leave stricken home

Despite being ordered to leave their home on the troubled development at Armou that is slipping down a hillside, a family of four remains as they have no viable alternative at the present time.

MONTHS after first defying an order banning them from their home, a Paphos family of four is still living at a stricken development in Armou that is slipping down a hillside.

The luxury development is almost deserted with Simon Phillips and his family the only permanent residents living there, despite a ban order which has been placed on all of the homes.

Phillips says he is prepared to be taken to court by the Paphos district office and would even see court action as positive move.

“At least it would be something. There is no viable alternative open to us at the moment and perhaps we would get a sympathetic judge,” Philips said.

Built by JNM developers in 2004, all of the houses have serious structural problems, from slanting floors, to the partial collapse of stairs, walls, swimming pools and patio areas. Outside drains are exposed in one garden and retaining walls have split.

The Sunday Mail attempted to contact the developers for a comment but was informed by an employee that they were ‘unavailable’. JNM has never responded to any requests for a comment on the Armou homes, despite repeated telephone calls and emails since the Mail first reported on the case 18 months ago.

A report by the chairman of Paphos’ Architects and Civil Engineers Association, Chrysostomos Italos was completed in June 2012 and has been handed over to the legal advisers of the homeowners. Italos places the blame firmly on the developer.

“The soil is still moving by millimetres according to the geological department which placed some inclinometers in the area and is carrying out tests every two weeks,” he said yesterday. “I don’t know if this is around the Philllips’ house or not but I will visit the area again this week or next to see if it is much worse or if it has stabilised at all.”

Phillips, his wife, Jen, and their two children are the only family still living at the development.

“The district office of Paphos has made repeated threats of court action against us to try and get us out of our home,” Phillips said. “They start every letter that it’s for my own safety. But we don’t have any options, so we have remained at home.”

A number of the homeowners, who live mostly in the UK, have issued separate court proceedings against the developer.

Evagoras Andreou, of the Paphos district office planning permits department said he couldn’t comment on any action being taken against the developer, merely saying that they were acting in accordance with the law.

Eight months ago homes in the complex had official ban notices placed on them stating the decree would remain in force until such time as repair works deemed necessary by the district officer were carried out. A day later, owners were informed that electricity supply to their homes would be cut but it is still connected.

The homeowner noted that no alternative accommodation has been offered and that if the family moves from their home they would end up on the street.

They paid €250,000 for their home outright and don’t have a mortgage.

Phillips says that although he admits that there are dangers and hazards at his property, he doesn’t believe that the house has moved at all in the last few months adding that he has been keeping a close eye on things.

“I have been measuring the gaps every day and they seem to have stabilised. But representatives of the district offices a couple of months ago said there is movement.”

According to Phillips, the device which reads movement is drilled into the ground at a depth of about 30 metres is 150 metres away from his property.

“This is quite far from my house, so I don’t think the results are correct for my property.”

Phillips says that if JNM were to return his investment, or provide an alternative similar property of equal value he would be satisfied.

He said: “It is very stressful living like this. But as it has been going on for so long now, we have accepted it as part of everyday life.”

He added that the situation has a massive impact on his family’s day to day life.

“We never entertain at home. We used to be very sociable, but we’re not any more.

Our children can’t have friends over to play or stay. Even though it’s not our fault it’s embarrassing to live as we do. We just don’t have an adequate expendable income to be able to rent anywhere at the moment.”

Paphos family unable to leave stricken home

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    So much for the well staffed Cypriot planning and building control departments?

    How did they, the architect, (no doubt ETEK registered), and the local Council allow this development to proceed when it was so clearly doomed from the start?

    Now that the development is falling apart why have they all just disappeared back into the woodwork, keeping their heads down and making no useful contribution to resolving this shambolic situation?

    What does this say about the professionalism, effectiveness and fairness of Cypriot Institutions, especially when foreign purchasers are involved?

    Maybe their slogan ought to be: ‘Come to sunny Cyprus to buy your dream property, and if it falls down, then you’re on your own’!

    That should attract Chinese buyers in their droves.

  • kufrahdog says:

    I have every sympathy for Mr Simon Phillips and his family and others who have suffered so grievously at Armou.

    This case has rumbled on for far too long without, it seems, anyone being held responsible for deciding and approving to build on recognised unsafe land.

    It is yet another example of all that is systemically wrong with both the business culture and the property market in Cyprus. What is required is a root and branch reform of the way the entire property system works and this includes associated banking and legal reform.

    However, the greatest stumbling block to change is the rotten business culture practised by the so-called professionals involved, in both private and public organisations – witness the recent interim report of the Independent Commission on the Future of the Cyprus Banking Sector.

    It would, perhaps, on the basis of the government’s response so far to the MoU, be reasonable to assume that change for the better may not actually happen. Is there a leader out there who could initiate and push through property reform? One wonders.

  • andyp says:

    Thanks Nigel.

    Can one assume then that the insurance companies are well aware of these areas and do not offer cover?

    If so it begs the question why did their lawyer let them buy in such an area or is this just a stupid question as we all know the answer?

  • @andyp – I published an article more than five years ago about the problems of building on unsafe land, which includes the following:

    “Problematic Paphos villages include Agios Photios and Statos, Choletria, Theletra, Episkopi, Marathounda and Armou. Following devastating landslips at Agios Photios and Statos, the Government moved both villages to a new location. Choetria & Theletra villages were also relocated after suffering similar disasters.”

    You can read more at ‘Down the slippery slope‘.

  • andyp says:

    Why does the insurance company not pick up the tab and pay out to these victims?

    Is this another element of the Cyprus property game that we should all be worried about?

  • Mike says:

    And this is all taking place in a EU member state who claims to have an effective planning policy and has adopted the EU ethos.

    Pigs do fly, obviously!

  • steve says:

    Solicitors promising the earth and nothing gets done. They know that this could take years to bring to a conclusion but they still keep demanding a fee. A solicitor that I employed in 2009 on a fixed fee wanted his fee paid within 90 days and is still no further forward to this day.

    In my opinion the legal system in Cyprus is easy to manipulate without doing anything illegal and the same goes for the property market. The Cyprus Bar Association which governs solicitors do very little if in fact nothing to discourage its members from doing wrong. Purchase property in Cyprus and you are on your own. It would be interesting to find out if anybody has employed a solicitor who has carried out his/her duties as promised and kept the client happy.

  • Peter Davis says:

    The Cypriot Government must be so embarrassed that this is now public knowledge.

    Why don’t the developers have insurance cover for faulty workmanship like they do in the UK & Ireland?

    Isn’t Cyprus in the EU yet?

  • Costas Apacket says:

    So, a Cypriot Developer builds houses that fall down within a couple of years, and no one in Cyprus does anything about it.

    Makes you want to buy doesn’t it?

  • The views expressed in readers' comments are not necessarily shared by the Cyprus Property News.

  • Text size

Back to top