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Lebanese duped by false residency claims

A number of Lebanese nationals have been duped into buying property in Cyprus by ‘dubious’ agents who claimed that they would obtain a residency permit after a certain period of time.

Lebanese duped by false residency claimsA NUMBER of dubious real-estate brokers have been persuading Lebanese nationals to purchase property in Cyprus based on the premise that they would obtain a residency permit after a certain period of time, Naji Ghaddar, managing partner at Masahaat, told The Daily Star.

Ghaddar’s remarks came during a news conference held at Le Gabriel Hotel aimed at giving an overview of the terms that must be met to be eligible for permanent residency in the EU member state.

He said some of the clients who had been duped into buying property in Cyprus had filed lawsuits against the unscrupulous brokers after discovering they received misleading information on the conditions needed for eligibility for residency.

Interest in properties in Cyprus has increased among Lebanese in recent years, prompted by the deteriorating political and security situation in the country.

As a result, many real estate brokers in Lebanon have begun in recent years to strike deals with developers in Cyprus to promote their projects among Lebanese, both expatriates and those still residing in Lebanon.

Masahaat is one of the better-known Lebanese real estate brokers to offer such services since 2010 with offices in Senegal, Angola, Ivory Coast, Cyprus and Lebanon.

The company has so far sold 20 residential units for Livadiotis Group, which is a dominant player in property development in Cyprus and a leading developer in Larnaca.

“We have received over 100 requests since 2010 and we [have sold] more than 20 units so far,” Ghaddar said. He also pointed out that “today Lebanese have started to understand that they should deal with serious brokers to complete their process in a proper way.”

Loucas Koushos, a Cypriot legal consultant, said that two procedures that may be pursued to obtain a permanent residency permit in Cyprus.

The first is the normal procedure, which takes from nine months to a year. He explained that under this procedure the applicant must have an annual income of at least 30,000 euros plus 10,000 euros for each dependent person in addition to a bank account in Cyprus with a balance of 50,000 to 90,000 euros. “In this case, the applicant can withdraw his money the second day after he gets the residency,” he said.

He explained that the second fast-track procedure, which takes from two to four months, requires an annual income of at least 30,000 euros plus 5,000 euros for each dependent. It also requires a confirmation letter from a bank in Cyprus stating that the applicant has deposited a minimum of 30,000 euros in an account, which will be pledged for at least a three-year period.

He added that the applicant must also submit a contract of sale of a house in Cyprus for a minimum market value of 300,000 euros plus VAT and proof of payment for at least 200,000 euros.

Kouchos said the permanent residency in Cyprus does not give applicants the right to enter European countries without a visa. But “the permit will definitely facilitate their access to a Schengen visa,” he added.

One of the main terms, Koushos said, is that the applicants’ income of must be generated in a country outside Cyprus. “Applicants are not allowed to engage in any form of business in Cyprus even if they have a permit,” he said. “They should have the Cypriot nationality to be able to open a business in the country.”

Meanwhile, Paris Livadiotis, manager director at Panikkos Livadiotis Group, gave an overview of the projects launched by his company while emphasizing the benefits of investing in real estate in Cyprus.

“Property sales in Larnaca in the first two months of 2015 have increased by 58 percent year-on-year and we believe this is the last opportunity for buyers to purchase at low prices,” he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 21, 2015, on page 4.

Readers' comments

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  • Aggis Demetriou says:

    Mr Benton, you have been looking in the wrong place, I built over 340 new properties in the UK since 1986, all my properties I built in Cyprus are built with UK building regulation in mind with a proper damp course and cavity walling, my advise to you if you’re serious why don’t you do a self build.

  • @John Benton on 2015/03/30 at 12:10 pm – There are good quality properties in Cyprus. The problem is that many of the properties thrown up during the boom years are pretty shabby and were grossly overpriced.

    Needless to say good properties sell, poor properties do not. And with all the media coverage of the many problems, buyers are now better educated and know what to look out for.

  • John Benton says:

    Aggis, you say Cyprus has “good quality properties”.

    I’m afraid you’re delusional if you think there is a good stock of good quality properties in Cyprus. I’ve been building houses for 37 years and was in Cyprus last year looking to buy for my retirement. Of the 20 or so properties we looked at there were only 1 or 2 that I would consider came up to the standard of “good”. Most failed on even the most basic building regulations.

  • Frank says:

    @Nigel
    Even if the brokers and agents are Lebanese; I think that we can guess where their scripts came from.

  • George Troy says:

    I hope they’re not looking for their title deeds any time soon as Livadiotis is not known for his haste in dishing them out.
    We at Limnis, Paradise Gardens, Oroklini have been awaiting ours for the past 18 years with no end in sight yet!!!!

  • @Richard on 2015/03/24 at 4:23 pm – I understand that the brokers referred to are operating in Lebanon and are Lebanese.

  • Richard says:

    Unbelievable – all of the global bad publicity for the island on Google for ever – yet STILL the brokers are at it.

    Watching this tin-pot Republic trying to do the right thing is like watching a chronic alcoholic trying to not to douse their morning corn-flakes in Vodka.

  • Aggis Demetriou says:

    At this moment in time property in Cyprus is at an all time low, especially for British buyers, the Euro has been kicked in the teeth and im sure it will be kicked even lower below the belt, so good deals to be had

    The only big issue here is to buy a property with a title which on new property is a rare thing to have.

    Persons coming for non EU countries should capitalise on the possibility of getting footing into Europe by buying their way in.

    Cyprus has good quality properties at very low prices.

  • Mike says:

    ….”A number of Lebanese nationals have been duped into buying property in Cyprus by ‘dubious’ agents who claimed that they would obtain a residency permit after a certain period of time”….

    Surely not, how could that ever happen in Cyprus, a modern European state where laws are based on British law, almost all lawyers graduates of prestigious European Universities, where the land registry cadastral system is probably the best in the world, where proud Hellenic principles of philosophy and justice handed down from ancient Greeks exist, where crime is virtually unknown and honesty is a byword. The Island which some justifiably claim is the centre of the physical and cultural universe as we know it. Surely this is a mistake. I refuse to believe any kind of ‘duping’ is even possible here.

  • Steve R says:

    What a shame they don’t implement something like this in the UK. The correct way I mean. How many immigrants would meet the criteria then instead of landing on the shores of the UK, penniless and then head straight to the social welfare office to claim what must seem like a lottery win.

    Given money, food and jump to the top of the social housing list. If all else fails they always have the racist card in their back pocket.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    It’s hard to believe isn’t it?

    Property purchasers being duped in Cyprus?

    Who would have thought it?

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