Leases on government houses rented out on the cheap for decades to officials may now be revoked or the rents reviewed, as the state looks to tidy up its finances.
Contracts signed between individuals and the state include provisions under which the government pays for up to 50 tonnes of water per house every two months.
The government’s decision to stop paying the water board prompted a strong reaction from the tenants who say it is part of their contract.
In addition, up to 1993, the state paid large amounts to maintain the properties.
In 2004 the Attorney General’s advice was requested as to whether the tenants could be evicted, but there has so far been no reply on the matter, therefore the Legal Office has voluntarily or involuntarily contributed to the continuation of a situation which burdens the state.
Most government houses were rented out by the government after Cyprus’ independence in 1960 either to members of the government or other individuals without specific criteria selection.
House number 44 has been rented to its tenant since 1967 and when the issue was raised by the Public Works Department, he presented a document signed by the first President of the Republic, Archbishop Makarios who allocated the house to the man as he had worked for the public sector and had retired at the level of Island Revenue Officer A.
Following the Turkish invasion in 1974, the tenant remained in the house as he came from the occupied village of Lysi and was considered a refugee. When the situation was investigated in the past, it was revealed that the man was the owner of a building complex which he rented out to various people.
It was then established that he had not been paying rent and when the amount of €77.91 was deducted from his pension for rent he complained and the deduction was cancelled.
When the unpaid rent reached €15,036 and eviction procedures launched, the tenant suggested rent be raised to €200 per month, provided eviction procedures cease.
House number 54 was rented to a former sports official who died and his widow remains in the house for a monthly rent of €77.92.
House number 47 is home to former Interior Minister Christodoulos Veniamin, while house 49 is inhabited by a former head of the intelligence service, but eviction procedures are underway.
House number 41 is currently occupied by a former party leader for €78.16 per month and the Public Works department has suggested a review of the rent.
House number 40 was occupied by a Water Board technician and currently by his wife and the Legal Office has been asked to advise about eviction.
House number 39 is periodically occupied, for about one month a year, by a former military man’s wife.
A property is rented to the Nicosia Bar Association for the symbolic amount of €100 per annum. The building is located in the buffer zone near the courthouses and was granted to the association after discussions with the United Nations.
Another building located in the city centre on Byron Street was rented to the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus (ICPAC) for an annual rent of €34.17 for a 33-year contract, which represents a monthly rent of just over €2. ICPAC has spent about €800,000 to renovate the building.
The Public Works department which is managing the issue, is expected to suggest that either the leases be revoked, or the rent is reviewed to market value, which means that tenants will be forced to pay similar rents to other tenants in the area.