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Cowboy Builders investigate British developer

A British developer who turned the dreams of those looking forward to a peaceful retirement in Cyprus into nightmares came under the spotlight in the Channel 5 series ‘Cowboy Builders Abroad’.

British-developer-Adrian-MillsDOMINIC Littlewood and a team from Cowboy Builders Abroad visited Cyprus to look into the problems that Adrian Mills, a British developer, left behind when he fled the island in 2009.

Adrian Mills, the Managing Director of MDE Nest Homes, never completed the development of “Valley View” at Nata, leaving the site with no roads or mains electricity.

In 2005 Tom and Irene Owens bought a 3-bedroom timber-frame bungalow off-plan from Nest Homes and their son bought the one next door; neither of the properties was properly damp-proofed. And as the rot set in Tom and Irene’s son and his wife were forced to leave their home and their daughter now lives with her grandparents.

Another couple spent more than £50,000 repairing their house to make it habitable. When they took delivery Mills told them the electricity would be connected “in a matter of weeks”; it never arrived.

The development is built on bentonite; a clay that absorbs huge amounts of water, expanding by as much as 15 times its original volume and shrinking back as it dries out. It is used in the oil industry as a lubricant and is a principal ingredient in cat litter.

Due to subsidence and rot caused by the damp conditions, most of the houses are uninhabitable and have been abandoned; they now lay deserted to rot.

Mills also sold properties at Choletria on the other side of the valley from Nata. Work on these never started and all that identifies ‘Laoni Hills’ is a rusting advertising board at the entrance to the site.

A couple who bought a property off-plan on this development became friends with Adrian Mills, even loaning him £20,000 to keep his company afloat; money that has never been returned – or the money they gave Mills to build their home.

The site at Choletria had planning permission for a single house, but Adrian Mills sold seven plots there for more than £600,000.

Before fleeing Cyprus Mills was summonsed to court several times for bouncing cheques. Eventually a warrant for his arrest was issued, but the police couldn’t find him.

Dominic tracked down Mills and invited him for an interview. You can watch the interview – it’s about 28 minutes into the video below.

You can also see the repairs that the Cowboy Builders team made to Tom and Irene’s home to help alleviate their problems. (As Tom and Irene do not have the Title Deeds to the property and are therefore not its owners, the repairs the team were able to make were limited).

The Channel 5 programme below runs for 43 minutes, but due to restrictions it may not be available at your location.

Readers' comments

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  • Bob Pryor says:

    I think Dominic should have spent a month here and found out how “THE SYSTEM” works here and got a complete picture of who expects what and when to get the OK on what you want done. I’m not sure I just wonder if Mills was like a lot of us who believed what they were told when they came to live here.

  • John Mann says:

    Why is this programme only targeting British Developers? Mind you if they went after all developers the series would last longer than “Coronation Street”

    One point that the programme did highlight is that the people that was going to put the situation right regards building a retaining wall, were prevented from doing so because of the legal situation, this proves that the Cypriot system is a total mess, the government stipulate the law don’t they?

  • @Peter – My wife and I had our home designed to our specific requirements.

    Our architect would not allow any construction work to be started until the Building Permit had been issued (it took about 8 weeks).

    Our contractor cleared the site and marked it out while we were waiting. But no other work was done until that permit had been issued.

    It sounds as if one of the contracts was illegal, as Mills did not own the land when the contract was signed – and the Land Registry would have spotted this when the contract was deposited and would have refused to accept it. Two possibilities

    (1) The Land Registry failed to check when the contract was deposited.

    (2) The buyers’ lawyer held onto the contract until after the land had been registered in the name of Mills/MDE Nest Homes.

    What’s criminal is that planning permits were (eventually) granted for the site at Nata. This land (bentonite) is the same as that Armou where houses are subsiding and on the verge of collapse.

    It’s about time TPTB banned building on sites like these – I penned an article 7 years ago about the problem – Down the slippery slope. (But of course banning building on such land would remove much of its commercial value).

  • Peter says:

    Adrian Mills may have been a crook, but personally I blame the architects and the planning departments for allowing such developments to take place.

    Architects have indemnity insurance, the planning department has a responsibility and if they started building without permits then the local council has the responsibility to stop them. Personally I would be looking to sue each of them.

    Shocking, I feel for those people, but until some of the rules are strengthened then we may see more of this.

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

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