Hundreds of expats duped by dodgy property developers

Scam AlertA GROUP of exasperated expats yesterday informed Finance Minister Michalis Sarris of the hundreds of complaints made against developers and estate agents in Cyprus relating to fraudulent dealings in the lucrative property market.

The Cyprus Property Action Group, formed last April to deal with the growing problem in the property market, met with Sarris to discuss the issue and inform him that a good number of expats were being cheated by dishonest developers and estate agents.

The group was joined by Greens deputy Georgios Perdikis, who warned that many foreigners “were being duped into making unsafe and dangerous purchases”.

“It is a complex legal and financial problem which needs to be solved at last. There are problems with implementation of the law, illegal buildings, title deeds and illegalities that affect the quality of life of buyers and residents in these areas,” said Perdikis.

The group referred to hundreds of cases where people who had come to Cyprus with the intention of living here had been cheated and left in dire economic straights. The minister was given the details and names of ‘dodgy’ estate agents and developers for a number of alleged frauds regarding the sale of land and houses.

Perdikis highlighted the problem had a political aspect as well, given that Cyprus had an image to uphold as a safe place for foreigners to purchase property, and as a country that abides by the rule of law; a factor often used to compare with the property market in the north.

Peyia’s municipal councilor Linda Leblanc, who is also a member of the action group, said many foreigners living in the Paphos area had approached her “concerned about the problems they were having with developers”.

The group, which has 89 members, is used as an ‘umbrella’ for those facing problems with property developers and estate agents all over Cyprus, said Leblanc.

“Our goal is to work with the government and find solutions. We built our homes in Cyprus, we love Cyprus… and because things are getting a little out of hand, we think it is the right time for action because there are problems now,” she said.

The situation took a turn for the worse last month when one British buyer, exasperated with a Cypriot developer who allegedly sold his off-plan house to a second British family and kept the money, posted a video on Youtube informing others of the dangers of buying in Cyprus. He also launched a website called lyingbuilder.com to document his two-year plight against the developer. Realising the website and allegations could be very damaging for the image of Cyprus property market, Interior Minister Christos Patsalides ordered an investigation into the case.

The following correction to the above story was printed by the Cyprus Mail on September 30th.

In a story in yesterday’s paper titled “Hundreds of expats ‘duped’ by dodgy developers”, we stated the CPAG had 89 members. In fact the Group, which acts as a network, has 2,000 people registering with it, both supporters and those who have an actual complaint.

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