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When the Dream Turns into a Nightmare

It’s common knowledge that Cyprus offers a more relaxed way of life. We don’t generally rush around and feel the stresses and strains of a big city, especially in Paphos. Naturally, that feeling of not being all that aggressive permeates into our everyday life. Banks are not open for very long, the police are not […]

It’s common knowledge that Cyprus offers a more relaxed way of life. We don’t generally rush around and feel the stresses and strains of a big city, especially in Paphos. Naturally, that feeling of not being all that aggressive permeates into our everyday life.

Banks are not open for very long, the police are not that vigilant when it comes to minor traffic violations and the shopping hours are rather Mediaeval:

But when that ‘laissez faire’ attitude starts affecting people on a personal level then perhaps it is time we actually sat up and took notice and started taking some action.

The Cyprus Weekly received a letter from a couple who had recently relocated like so many of their compatriots from the United Kingdom for the “greener”, less stressed and more relaxed pastures of Cyprus.

The couple, who asked not to be named bought an old stone house in the Paphos village of Amargeti. I reproduce their letter below with their permission:

“Dear Sir

Since my wife and myself have been here in Cyprus for nearly a year, we have come across nothing but problems from government departments and the legal systems. We bought an old stone house in June 2004 to be renovated. It was ideal for us, being small and compact.

We were promised various updates from our solicitor who had power of attorney to sort everything out on our behalf as we were in the UK. She proved to be utterly use- less and we got little response from her and the developer.

We had to come over in April 2005 to see how things were progressing; we found very little work done on the house.

We had informed the builder and solicitor, our flights were booked for five months later and the UK removal van had been booked.

We received a telephone call two weeks later telling us that there were electrical problems but they would be sorted. When we eventually arrived, we found we were on shared electricity with our neighbour, who told us it was only for about five weeks. It is now over one year and we are paying his electricity bill as well as our own.

The house was a mess, it was quite obvious it had been a rush job, cheap and shoddy materials were used, bad workmanship and the tiles we had chosen for the floor and walls and paid for, had been replaced with chipped seconds. When it rains, the roof leaks and we are flooded.

Dogged

I went on several occasions to the planning department to see how long all the licences and permits would take; they would not give me any definite details as our file had got lost under a pile of big building form guys – I had been back several times for our permits and have been told by staff: “If you don’t like the Cyprus way, go back to England!”. I have had a similar response from AIK when I tried to get on our own electricity; I was shouted at as I could not give a reference number and the door was shut in my face.

I was hoping to find work here but have been told because I am English there are no jobs for me.

I did manage to obtain work for a month, but left because my employer refused to pay my wages of about £400.

All this has caused my wife’s illness to get worse, not better. We hoped the climate here would help her to improve and now she cannot bear to be left alone.

Call this country an EU member when it goes against EU laws and nationals! They want us to come and live here. They took our money and after that they refuse to cooperate.

The favourite phrase here seems to be “not my problem, it’s yours.”

The faults of the house (which are many) are to be the developer’s responsibility. We have had to pay various subcontractors to sort the problems out, some I have done myself. It is a total nightmare; it makes us wonder if life in Cyprus was worth the move from England.”

It is many peoples’ dream to relocate to greener pastures; whether it is a repatriation like many of the South African, British and Australian Cypriots or a relocation like so many of the other cultures and nationalities who have relocated to Cyprus in search for a better life for whatever reason.

But when that repatriation is dogged by attitudes and mindsets that are detrimental and damaging both by the people who are giving it out and by the people who are taking it, then it is perhaps time that we sat up and took notice; and more importantly, take some action.

I managed to meet the couple who sent the letter to The Cyprus Weekly. They are two average people; the wife is quite sickly with all sorts of spinal and osteopathic problems.

They made a specific request that the cupboards and work surfaces in the kitchen be at a lower level, so she would be able to reach down as she can no longer reach upwards. Those requests were totally ignored, as were all their other ones.

Quick buck

One needs to ask in this situation what can be done; do they go to the developer or speak to their lawyer? From the letter, it is quite clear that the developer was making a quick buck and took these people for a ride.

Surely the lawyer should have been dealing with the planning departments, electricity people and even the developer?

These people certainly paid enough money up front for these “legal” services.

So what do they do now?

Who can they approach? Is there any way these people can claim compensation, as is expected in a modern country where golf courses and five star spa hotels and resorts are being used to sell Cyprus as an idyllic relaxing destination?

With regards to the developer involved, the couple begged that we do not contact them as they fear the repercussions, while the lawyer is always unavailable for these people when they try and contact her.

What we don’t realise is that these people are potential contributors to the economy; what would Paphos be without the tourists and the ever-increasing number of relocating nationals?

It is true that there is a significant number of British people living here who do whine and moan about the Cypriots and they have rather set a precedent for their compatriots.

But it’s not everyone and a very large amount of the over 30,000 Brits living in the Paphos region have businesses and services they are offering.

It is very sad and embarrassing that the people who wrote the letter have only had such bad experiences since deciding to move to Cyprus; we know that it is still a beautiful country and there is still that famed Cypriot hospitality to be experienced but what happens once that stops and people pass the buck and Cyprus stops being a favoured destination? Whose problem will it be then?

If there is anyone who can suggest a way or an organisation that can help these people, please contact me through The Cyprus Weekly at Weekly@spidernet.com.cy.

Copyright © Cyprus Weekly September 15 2006

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