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Property market improvements neglected

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I observe a strong indifference both from the individual authorities of the state and the professional associations in the real estate sector.

It is rare for the latter to submit a proposal to the state unless it is critical.

As an office, we have tried to highlight various wrongs that exist and cause harm to the construction sector.

Everyone involved in the industry who has their own experiences to contribute to these corrective recommendations has a role to play.

After more than 42 years of writing about the affairs of the industry, I have submitted various proposals, and at least some have been adopted by the state, while for others, I found myself accused by the technical chamber ETEK, as were my arguments over Akamas.

I list some problems and issues with particular reference to the Ministry of Interior,  which the state should address as a priority.

  • The issue of common expenses with a non-enforceable law is a huge problem.
  • On common expenses, we have followed the various recent publications and discussions on television. We regret to note that this issue cannot be resolved without correcting the long delays in court decisions. When it takes 3-4 years (or more) for a decision, how will this problem be solved? For this reason, I proposed the creation of special courts (arbitration-type) where decisions will be taken without necessarily the presence of advocates (which sharply reduces court costs) with summary procedures. Perhaps ETEK can participate in such a process with its decision being an end, a process of 15-30 days. For example, the former judge Pikis had been imaginative in the past, where dozens of expropriation decisions were clarified on his part over two years.
  • When is a pool considered private or sometimes public (the latter needs a lifeguard)? So, no titles are issued to private developments, making the operating costs so high that it results in the abandonment of the pool. There is a clear EU directive on the subject that is simply not adopted.
  • The final approval certificate should be replaced by a safety certificate issued by the supervising architect in the first stage. In this way, the building will be able to be inhabited regardless of whether it has the final approval certificate until the second one is issued. As buildings are today (government and hotels), it is very easy to obtain a demolition order due to the lack of a final approval certificate.

I am extremely disturbed by this issue because it carries enormous risks which affect our economy. If, for example, a “well-wisher” complains that even five hotels in Cyprus cannot operate illegally due to the non-issue of the certificates of final approval, what do you think will happen as a reaction from international tour operators (the Court has no choice but to order the demolition).

  • The bureaucracy in issuing permits and titles is “suicidal”. Even with 42 years of experience, it will never cease to amaze the slow pace of progress. There are huge problems and enormous damage to the economy, especially the construction industry. The latest edition of Doing Business, while highlighting Cyprus to a high degree for other sectors in the issue of issuing permits and title deeds, is almost last.
  • The incomprehensibility of urban planning policy (if any) is still with us. Permits are issued in some areas with 15-35 floors; in others (e.g., Famagusta-Larnaca), a reduction is adopted, especially in coastal estates.
  • The protection zone should be revised. Assign the project to the private sector and record the coastal line as it is today (using aerial photography). At the same time, there are cases where the property is partially located in the sea and another 100 metres away but within the protection zone.

How will we achieve the development of Cyprus, where all we have is tourism, real estate development, marinas, and ports?

Unfortunately, our parliament has adopted a negative and often irresponsible attitude over time.

After their famous ‘no’ to the bail-out of Cyprus banks that resulted in the biggest economic disaster, there is a new ‘no’ for renting government land for casinos (we were left with one bidder) we said a big ‘no’ to reduce the fat salaries of the civil service and those who benefit from double and triple pensions.

Minority governments in parliament exist everywhere, but in the end, the interest of the state should prevail and not party politics.

 

 By Antonis Loizos FRICS – Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Property Appraisers, Property Sellers & Development Project Managers