Amendment of Cyprus law facilitates the eviction of non-paying tenants

On Friday the 24th of January 2020, the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus approved (31 votes in favour, 15 against and 2 abstained) a bill that amends The Rent Control Law of 1983 in an attempt to introduce improvements to the current legislation and in order to assist the landlords to evict tenants who fall into arrears or who intentionally don’t pay.

Applicability
As the bill amends only the Rent Control Law, the properties that fall within the ambit of the new eviction procedure are properties built prior to 01/01/2000 that are within the controlled areas as these are defined by law.


The new law has not been published yet in the Cyprus Government Gazette. It is important to note that the new law does not apply:
  • to cases filed before the law’s enforcement date, and
  • where rents became payable before the said date, provided that these are paid within 12 months following the enforcement date.
Purpose
The purpose of the amendment is to:
  • introduce a new type of “out-of-court” settlement in disputes between landlords and tenants
  • introduce a new fast track eviction procedure
  • shift the burden of proof on the tenant.
  • decongest the Rent Control Court
The new procedure
  • According to the existing legislation the property owner needs to serve the tenant a Written Notice and the tenant will have 21 days to meet her/his obligations. Failure to do so, will entitle the owner to launch the eviction process by filing an Eviction Application with the Court.
  • Based on the amendment of the legislation Law, as of the moment of filing the Eviction Application, the tenant will have 14 days to file a Reply to the Eviction Application. The tenant’s Reply will be accepted by the Court Registrar only if it is accompanied either:
  • by proof of the Accounting Department of the Court that the amount of rent due as this stated on the application, has been deposited to the Court; or
  • by receipt for the collection of rent due issued by the owner or her/his agent;or
  • by receipt issued by a financial institution that rent due, as this is stated on the application, has been deposited for the benefit of the owner or her/his representative.
In this way the amendment essentially shifts the burden of proof on the tenant to prove that payment of the rent due has taken place.
  • The Registrar must then make a decision as to the acceptance or rejection of the filing of the tenant’s reply and present its decision before the Rent Control Court within three from the filing of the reply, for final approval or rejection. The decision of the Court is not subject to appeal.
  • n the event where an eviction order is granted, following the owner’s application, the Rent Control Court may determine the time during which the tenant must comply with the eviction order, which cannot be less than ninety days.
Furthermore, another amendment deals with the service of any notice, application and claim under the said law. Specifically, it allows their service in any manner provided by the Civil Procedure Rules, including digital service and substitute service provided that a relevant Court Order is issued.
The amendment of the law is a step forward in improving the problematic current state of affairs and in modernizing the law. However, it is by no means a panacea as it affects only a class of properties. Similar steps will need to be taken soon, to facilitate the eviction of non-paying tenants of properties that do not fall within the ambit of the Rent Control Act.
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