Latest Headlines

Pissouri sunshine dreams in ruins

17 families evicted in Pissouri Village, where at least 70 houses are collapsing; desperate victims have pleaded with the Cypriot government to help; British High Commission is talking to the Cypriot government about a solution.

Pissouri sunshine dreams in ruins

Devastated: Some of the stricken Pissouri residents whose homes are collapsing as a result of fissures which are thought to be caused by underground landslide

MAGNIFICENT views of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, luxury villas at affordable prices, easy access to lush golf courses – and you drive on the left.

No wonder Cyprus has become the destination of choice for thousands of Brits seeking a new life in the sun.

But one community nestled in the island’s hills has seen its dreams shattered as their homes are ripped apart and rendered worthless by gaping fissures opening up beneath them.

Already, 17 families have been evicted in Pissouri Village, where at least 70 houses are collapsing.

The fissures in Pissouri are thought to be caused by underground landslides created by water flowing beneath the earth into the valley, due to heavy rain and the fact that Cyprus does not have a robust sewerage system.

Dozens of desperate families have pleaded with the Cypriot government to help with their plight.

They argue that if the government had acted when they first identified the problem years ago then the scale of the disaster would have been much less.

In 2015 the then minister of the interior, Socratis Hasikos, said it was the government’s duty to intervene, but following his resignation in May 2017, no action has been taken.

“We have had nothing since; they haven’t even sent anyone down here to look,” says former chartered surveyor Antony Walker, 73, whose home is one of those affected.

“They have kicked the can down the road while our homes slip further every day.

“At first they said it was the fault of the developers, but each was built at a different time by different developers; and how would that explain why roads are collapsing?”

Already 17 families have been evicted in Pissouri Village, where at least 70 houses are collapsing

Village crumbling: Already 17 families have been evicted in Pissouri Village, where at least 70 houses are collapsing

General views of Pissouri village

General views of Pissouri village with the destruction of the landslide affecting houses and roads

Peter Field and Kayt Field's house in Pissouri

Peter Field and Kayt Field’s house that has been torn apart by a landslide

A group of 29 villagers, who have named themselves the Pissouri Housing Initiative Group (PHIG), believes the Cypriot government should apply to the European Union for money from its solidarity fund to help with the problem.

“No insurance company will insure against damage caused by landslides,” Mr Walker explains.

“So many are in this desperate situation wherein they have a mortgage to pay on a house that is collapsing into rubble, and they can’t afford to go anywhere else.

“Meanwhile the Cypriot government, which helped create this mess, has turned its back on us.”

The Daily Mail reported in May on the plight of the Phillips family in nearby Paphos, who plan to sue the government for allowing their home to be built on an unsafe site.

Unlike the Phillips family, villagers in Pissouri consider taking the government to court as a last resort because the process could take more than a decade due to the country’s clogged up courts and sluggish legal system.

Michael Ellis' drive and swimming pool

Michael Ellis, 63 who’s drive and swimming pool has sunk over 12ft away from his house

John Lamb's mothers house

John Lamb’s mothers house that has been evicted due to being cracked in half by a landslide

No insurance company will insure against damage caused by landslides

‘No insurance company will insure against damage caused by landslides,’ a resident explained

Anne Everett and Don Everett's garden and house twisting due to the landslide

Anne Everett and Don Everett, who’s garden and house has started to twist due to the landslide

‘The group’s lawyer, Elina Zoi, says: “These people don’t have ten or 15 years to fix this. Some are in their 80s and their homes will have crumbled to nothing well before then.”

There are around 70,000 British expats living in Cyprus and the property sector is booming.

Some 1,057 contracts were deposited at Land Registry offices for the sale of properties and land in April this year, up 62 per cent on the same month last year.

The British High Commission confirmed it is talking to the Cypriot government about a solution to the problems at Pissouri.

A spokesman says: “We are continuously pursuing with authorities in Cyprus for a solution to the problems residents in the area are experiencing.”

A spokesman from the Cyprus Interior Ministry admits there are “serious problems of soil instability” in the area and blamed the developers, even advising the villagers to sue them.

CASE STUDIES: “We could hear pieces falling away – it sounded like a gunshot”

It’s taken a toll on our health

Peter and Kayt Field’s luxury four-bed villa with swimming pool was declared ‘unfit for habitation’ in March 2016.

And since the couple fled the house, the home they shared for 25 years has crumbled and been looted several times for the belongings they left behind.

The pair, from Northamptonshire, bought the home in 1993 and for almost a quarter of a century there were no issues.

Peter and Kayt Field's luxury four-bed villa with swimming pool declared 'unfit for habitation'

Home now worthless: Peter and Kayt Field’s luxury four-bed villa with swimming pool was declared ‘unfit for habitation’ in March 2016

But former colonel Peter, 81, who spent 48 years in the Army, began noticing cracks in 2015.

It wasn’t long before the doors no longer fitted in their frames and the couple were forced to move into a downstairs bedroom while they searched for somewhere safe to live.

“While we were sleeping in the house you could hear pieces of it falling away – it would sound like a gunshot, then part of the house would crack and hit the floor,” Kayt says. “It has all taken a serious toll on our health — my husband has had to have two stents and a pacemaker put in.

An aerial view of Pissouri, Cyprus

An aerial view of Pissouri, Cyprus, showing the Fissure lines caused by landslide

Peter Field and Kayt Field's house torn apart by a landslide

Peter Field and Kayt Field’s house that has been torn apart by a landslide

“The notice of eviction was pinned on our door while we were out shopping. We had no warning. Limassol council offered to let us use the road sweeper for a day to help us move, but that was about it.”

The couple, who have two children and four grandchildren, say their home should be worth €700,000 but is now ‘worthless’. “It would have been nice to have been able to leave something to our children,” Peter says. “But that looks unlikely now.”

The couple hope the Cypriot government will be able to compensate them for the loss of their home, but are very frustrated with the lack of response from the authorities. “I think they are just waiting for us to die so the problem goes away for them,” Kayt says.

My family had to go back to the UK

The field outside Mick and Louise Ellis’s home opened up overnight in August 2016. Over the next two weeks their swimming pool and driveway dropped by 8ft.

Louise, 50, and the couple’s children Georgina, 19, and Isabel, 15, returned to Buckinghamshire in December 2018 after the drive of the house they’d only bought in 2013 had become too dangerous.

Mick Ellis' wife's home opened up overnight

Mick Ellis stands by his and wife Louise’s home opened up overnight in August 2016. Over the next two weeks their swimming pool and driveway dropped by 8ft.

Mick, 63, a quality manager at the Mediterranean Hospital in Limassol, says: “We sold our house in Aylesbury and everything we had to start our life out here.

“I do not earn enough to rent a property and at my age it will not be long before I retire — what then?

“My pension will not sustain me and my family as well as the rent.

“Going through the courts will take up to 15 years and the costs are enormous. We are being given no help at all.”

We heard concrete hitting the floor

Great-grandparents Bill and Sheila Potter bought the land for their home in 1992 after visiting Cyprus on holiday and ‘falling in love’ with it.

They sold everything they had in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, and built the home themselves.

“The first Christmas present I bought Sheila was a cement mixer,” Bill, 69, says.

“It took two years to plan the house the way we wanted it; all the relevant surveys and checks were done and the architect told us everything was to a very high standard.

“We spent the next ten years gradually adding to the house, the pool and everything else.”

They lived there happily until 2015, when cracks opened up all over. By 2016 the pool had to be filled in because its boundary walls had collapsed.

Bill and Shelia Potter's bungalow twisted by a Pissouri landslide

Bill Potter, 69 and Shelia Potter’s bungalow which has been twisted by a landslide

“The fissure has not just ripped it apart but one part of the house has dropped half a yard,” the former probation officer says. “We could hear the cracks. You can hear the bits of concrete crumbling onto the floor. It is heartbreaking.”

The couple have been forced to borrow money and return to the UK. “We worked all our lives to have a decent retirement and then your dream literally collapses around your ears,” Sheila, also a former probation officer, says.

“We are having to face facts that our home for 25 years is gone and we no longer have a home.

“No one from the government has come to see it for themselves. They can’t predict a landslide, but they can help and they have a duty to do so.”

Our home shifted by 5ft in five years

Katherine Yeomans had been in love with Cyprus since holidaying there as a child. The mother of two and her husband Jeremy, 54, an accountant, sold everything and got a mortgage to buy their luxury three-bed house with a pool and moved over in December 2014.

They had no idea the home was next to what would become a gaping fissure. Just two months after they moved in cracks began to appear in the garden, and by 2017 the pool had collapsed.

The entire home has now twisted around by 5ft and is surrounded by rubble and fissures which widen every day.

Katherine says. “We’ve paid thousands to have things constantly repaired but it’s a losing battle. We still have €96,000 on the mortgage to pay off. We just don’t know what to do. It’s hopeless.”

© dmg media

The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail is the second largest selling newspaper in the UK. It has twice the readership of the ‘Daily Mirror’ and three times the readership of ‘The Times’. The Daily Mail also has the second largest on-line readership of any of the UK national newspapers.

The Pissouri landslide story featured as a double-page spread in yesterday’s ‘MoneyMail’ under the headlineSunshine Dreams in Ruins.

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • Antony Walker says:

    Ms Best is correct but her comment is irrelevant to southeast Pissouri. The now unstable land, which is now approaching one million square metres, was stable when development was planned and constructed.

    The area remainder stable for decades until the area was made unstable due to landslide triggered by groundwater which should have been controlled by infrastructure drainage which the Government knew was necessary but did not construct because of an interdepartmental squabble as to which budget would pay 20% of the costs.

    I am at a loss to understand why contributors repeatedly refer to or infer negligent design and or construction when it has been explained many times in this column that the problem in southeast Pissouri is landslide triggered by uncontrolled groundwater.

  • Anna Diane Best says:

    Before you buy a building plot on Cyprus or build on an official existing one, get a Geologist to test the solidity of the Terra Firma of the plot including 3 mtrs outside the circumference-border of the plot. I have lived in our new-build now for almost 50 years and there is not a single crack in any walls or floors!

  • Richard says:

    When one considers the number of ‘interventions’ the British government have made in overseas countries – for all sorts of reasons – and the associated costs to the British taxpayer thereof – the way ordinary people have been left hanging out to dry in the Republic of Cyprus is a source of national shame to our British government the whole world can look on and make their own minds over how well they treat our population. William Hague gave M.O.D land back to the Republic some years ago. Where was his help to distressed Britons caught up in these scams as a condition of surrendering the land?

  • Joseph Parry says:

    One of the comments in today’s Daily Mail which also ran this story was:-

    There was a survey of the land done many years ago when it was first proposed to build houses there. The market being targeted was Greek Cypriots at that time. The plan was rejected as the ground was deemed unsuitable and possibly unstable. Fast forward a few years when the same land was again applied for building on but this time the target market being expats permission was granted. Nothing about the land was done, suddenly it was okay to build on and perfectly stable. The only thing that changed was the target market. Then fast forward to today and you have the exact reason that the initial proposal was rejected for.

    Wonder if this is correct?

    Ed: No! The land was zoned as residential in 1982. And it’s not only the Brits whose houses are falling down. Many Cypriots live there permanently – others have holiday homes.

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

SELECTED REPORTS

Back to top