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Protest at Olympia property exhibition

Protesters seeking to stop Britons from buying property in Cyprus was held outside the Olympia exhibition centre in London where ‘A Place in the Sun Live’ overseas property exhibition is being held.

A PROTEST aimed at warning the British public not to buy properties in Cyprus took place on Saturday outside a major property exhibition in London.

A small group of people who had bought property in Cyprus gathered outside the Olympia in London where A Place in the Sun Live was taking place. Two Cypriot companies were among those taking part.

The aim of the protest was to warn off potential buyers from investing in Cyprus citing their own unfortunate cases that include homes destroyed in an ongoing land-slippage in Pissouri, Swiss Franc house loans and a double selling fraud.

The organiser of the protest is Conor O’Dwyer, who is the midst of a 14-year legal battle after buying a property in Cyprus in 2005 only for the developer to sell his house to another British family at a higher price. According to O’Dwyer not only was the original sale to him registered with the land registry department, but the developer also kept the money he had paid.

The protesters, holding placards saying ‘Do not buy property in Republic of Cyprus’, handed out flyers to potential buyers as they went inside the exhibition.

The event is the official exhibition of the Channel 4 TV series A Place in the Sun and, according to its organisers, “the largest overseas property exhibition in Europe”. It was described as the perfect place to seek guidance through the buying process for a purchaser to find their “dream properties” abroad.

On Saturday morning, a discussion was also held at the exhibition on buying property in Cyprus.

O’Dwyer said that the protesters were engaging with British buyers but also with property companies from other countries and media from the property industry.

“Enough is enough, that’s the theme of the protest,” he said.

The leaflets explain to potential buyers the reasons why they shouldn’t buy in Cyprus.

“Because corruption (in Cyprus) is rife,” he said.

Contracts

Developers, he said, will tell exhibition visitors they are secured as long as their contracts are in the land registry.

“No. My contract is in the land registry and my property developer sold my house to another person at a higher price to profit more,” he said. “A court case in the Republic of Cyprus takes 13 years.”

Pissouri landslide

Some of the protesters are victims of the land slippage in Pissouri, he said.

One of the homes destroyed in the Limnes land-slippage

The case, which has received widespread publicity in recent months, involves homes built in the Limnes area of Pissouri which have fallen victim to a serious and continuing land slippage.

The land is now slipping at almost double the rate it did in 2015 when the movement was up to 40cm per year. By early March, five families had been evicted, while, according to lawyer for the home owners, Elina Zoi, 15 houses are considered dangerous but the owners continue to live in them as they have nowhere else to go. The land slippage is due to failure to provide adequate infrastructure to manage groundwater, and allowing development to go ahead in the area.

“House insurance does not cover landslides and it’s the government’s duty to help,” O’Dwyer said, adding that the only action from the government is forced evictions with the homeless British returning to the UK.

Swiss Franc loans

Another group at the protest are victims of the mis-selling of Swiss Franc loans to purchase homes in Cyprus.

“These contracts have been found as abusive by the EU and settled in other countries, but for some reasons the banks in Cyprus are holding out and are individually putting these people through hell as they go through courts,” O’Dwyer said.

Even the consumer protection service in Cyprus deemed these contracts abusive but these people are getting no help at all, he said.

This practice, he said, “has seen hundreds of Brits forced to give up their dream homes or face a decade of court action to retain it”.

The trend in borrowing in Swiss francs emerged in 2006, when Cyprus was a candidate for euro area membership. Those taking out loans in Swiss francs benefited from considerably lower interest rates compared to the then cost of borrowing in euros. But some four years ago, when the Swiss National Bank moved to unpeg the country’s currency from the euro, led to a sharp revaluation of the Swiss franc and many debtors saw their instalments going through the roof. A debtors’ association had said at the time some 11,000 people were affected and spoke of a scandal, arguing that banks at the time did not adequately inform customers of the exchange-rate risks in taking out loans in a foreign currency.

The aim of the protest, he said, was to inform everyone on what’s happened to them “and what’s happening to Brits every day over there in Cyprus”.

He expressed hope that their presence there would minimise “the danger to the British buying public” since there were only two Cyprus real estate agents at the exhibition.

Readers' comments

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  • T Evans says:

    Yes I agree with most comments we have now sold our house in Cyprus and returned to U.K. although Cyprus is a Wonderful Country great weather and beaches and that’s it.

    We would not recommend buying in Cyprus for most of the reasons stated we had to wait 13 years Yes 13yrs. For Title deeds as soon as we got these we put our house on the market and sold within 6 months at a substantial lose although we had enjoyable times.

    But would never buy again only return for holidays.

    Mr T Evans. C Eng CIOB.
    Hope The Pissouri problems get sort this should never had happened with properly designed and constructed ground water drainage.

  • Alan Burke says:

    To Brian. These few demonstrators are actually representative of thousands of “Property” owners who are unable to obtain Title Deeds to their properties. Cyprus is a great place to live. Putting an end to this massive property scam can only make the island an even better place to live.

  • Brian McSkimming says:

    Great work Conor, thanks for maintaining the ongoing protests highlighting the fraud many British people have had when buying property in Cyprus.

    Peoples dreams of buying property in the sun has turned into an expensive nightmare.

  • Anne everett says:

    May I suggest Brian visits Pissouri and sees for himself the devastation not just to the houses but the roads too are crumbling some unuseable

  • Antony Walker says:

    Perhaps Brian will please explain why he categorises the destruction of seventy homes by an uninsurable landslide in Pissouri as a “scare story”, and perhaps he would care to comment on Article 1 of Protocol 1 of ECHR, and Article 23 of the Constitution of Cyprus?

    The problem in Pissouri has nothing to do with criminal behaviour. It is a natural disaster.

  • Peter Davis says:

    I am glad that these people took the time out to broadcast the problems with the Cyprus Property Market. So many people rely on a lawyer, like they do in the UK to protect them and do the necessary background checks.

    My UK trained lawyer told me that the sales market is exactly like the UK, based on UK law, then in fact it is based on Ottoman Law, and nothing like the UK.

    We spent nearly 11 years living in limbo before we got our title deeds, notwithstanding we had paid the developer in full, we owned nothing and could have lost our home at any time.

    Power to these people’s elbow.

  • Shirley Spratley says:

    I bought off plan in 2004 from Aristo believing I would have my dream home to retire to I found out later that the common practice here is to deceive the buyer by not handing over them deeds because there is a mortgage on the property as the developers use this to purchase more land.

    It took years to get the deeds and cost more money too. The quality of buildings is very poor view after the winter to see the terrible damp problems and leaks from roofs which are not sealed properly, cracks round windows supposed to be double glazed, where you feel the draught blow through.

    It is an absolute disgrace that these people get away with this fraud. The only safe way to get a sound property would be to bring your own builders out who you could trust,the island has many cowboys of all nationalities.

    BEWARE.

  • Deanna says:

    I just wish we had this sort of information available when we bought back in ’89/’90.

    We were just told that everything would proceed ‘the English way’ …..

    Not saying we wouldn’t have bought, but we’d have been more savvy and done our homework re the developers.

    So well done everyone involved.

  • Brian says:

    In my opinion this sort of protest actually does nobody any good.

    I obviously do not know the facts of any of these individuals cases.

    However

    It will not stop people buying in Cyprus. (Thankfully.)
    It will not get justice for those allegedly wronged.
    It will not force the banks or authorities to change.
    It may harm the smaller developers.
    It may cause minimal reductions in resale values.

    People are not going to be scared off by a few stories of individual misfortunes or scare stories.

    It is only likely to harden the attitudes of the corrupt and criminal. (Who exist everywhere, not just Cyprus.)

    If there are cases to answer then the European courts are the place to seek that justice.

    I accept that some, if not all of these people, feel they have been wronged in one way or another but to keep banging on could actually have the opposite effect to that which they seek.

    There are many things wrong with Cyprus. Just like there are with any other country you care to name.

    Ed: I disagree with you – these protests are having an effect. At previous ‘A Place in the Sun Live’ exhibitions in London, Birmingham and Manchester there have been several Cypriot property developers promoting properties for sale. At this exhibition (which ends today) there were just two estate agents selling properties. The developers have wised-up and are now focussing their attention in non-English speaking countries like China, Russia, the Gulf, etc.

    Most Brits with any sense are only looking to buy properties with ‘clean’ Title Deeds.

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