CYPRUS: Rents skyrocket as government promotes affordable housing

Rents in Cyprus are continuing their upward trend, spiking by 40% on average in Limassol and 33% in Nicosia compared to last year, according to the Labour Ministry.

Zeta Emilianidou, the Labour and Social Insurance Minister, told MPs during a parliamentary discussion that rents have more or less remained the same in the Larnaca and Famagusta regions.

During a heated debate which followed, Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides and House Interior Committee chair Eleni Mavrou went head-to-head over which administration is to blame for the current situation.

Petrides said that “AKEL’s housing policy while in government was what created all these problems”.

He argued the government’s “plans for affordable housing will be ready soon” and “we are witnessing the consequences of a bubble in the industry.” Petrides blamed the pre-2013 Christofias administration for causing it.

“Our policy was designed taking into account four things. The value of the land, the building density, the quality and the cost of construction, and the reasonable profit of the constructor,” he said.

AKEL MP Eleni Mavrou and representatives of NGOs invited to the meeting, criticised the two ministers for the delay in the new housing policy of the government.

Mavrou reminded Petridis that he told the same committee last year that the plans would be ready in January 2019.

Petrides quoted EU statistics, saying the percentage of Cypriots living in small residences is 75-80%, as opposed to 50-55% in the EU, and in contrast the percentage of Cypriots residing in apartments is 20-25%, while the average percentage in the EU is 50%.

Petrides gave an account of what affordable housing means saying that “affordable housing should cost a person less than 40% of his income. We, as part of our policy targets, have set it at 30%.

Referring to the measures promoted by the interior ministry to tackle the problem, Petrides said that they are in talks with the Cyprus Land Development Corporation on utilising state land, redefining support schemes for Cypriot refugees and updating plans for mountainous areas, and areas close to the Green Line.

He added the government has doubled the amount for rent subsidies given out, increasing it from EUR 4.5 mln to 10 mln, with some 4,500 beneficiaries covered by state schemes.

Source: The Financial Mirror