In this article we will focus on rights of landlords vis a vis their statutory tenants (tenants who have renewed the initial rental period in consensus with the landlord and continue to maintain, legally, possession of the property) according to the Rent Control Law (Law 23/1983) as amended and discuss briefly applicable case law in light of the decree (being in force from 22/04/2021 – 21/04/2023) issued by the Ministerial Council which prohibits any contractual and/or statutory increase of rents due to the ongoing financial crisis in Cyprus since 2013.

When we refer to the Rent Control Law is important to note that these restrictions on 0% increase of rents as well as reasons of applying to court for an eviction Order apply only to residential and commercial properties that were built and completed till 1999. All other properties post 1999 are not covered under the Rent Control Law and any rights and obligations are subject to Contracts Law (Cap.149) as well as contractual provisions stipulated in the Tenancy Agreement.

The determination of the fair rent of a property including any increase or decrease of rent (whether the property is residential or commercial) is controlled by article 8 of the Rent Control Law which provisions for a maximum of 14% increase in rent every two years once two years have elapsed from the date the tenant took possession of the property. In case where the landlord is of the opinion that the paid rent is well below the 90% (as of 01.01.2005) of the buying rent and the average price of the rent for the small area around the property, he has the right to address the court to determine the price of the rent upwards. On the same token, a tenant who feels that the paid rent is over and above this threshold, he has the right to address the court to determine the rent downward. In determining the fair rent, the courts will also examine other circumstances such as the age of the property, its specifications, its size and location, facilities provided and the condition of the property.

Implied as it is, the landlord would still be eligible to impose a 14% increase once two years will have elapsed from the said determination of rent, however due to the existing decree which is still in force till 2023, it would not be possible to do so at least until the expiration of the said decree and provided that the decree will not be renewed (see Christopoulos Fereos v. Chr. Georgiades Ltd, Appeal no. 212/2010).

Now, turning back to the matter of eviction, it is important to note that statutory tenants are well protected by the law as it was interpretated in applicable precedent case studies from unfair, abusive or disproportionate evictions. Article 11(1)  of the Rent Control Law prohibits evictions in general but does allow for the owner to obtain repossession of his property in exceptional cases such as consistent delay in payment of rent, nuisance, unlawful subleasing of the property, deterioration of the property due to tenant’s negligent acts and omissions, owner reasonably demanding the property for own use or occupancy extending to the use by up to a third degree relatives, owner demanding the property for demolition or renovation purposes, for reasons concerning public interest and so on.

It is important to note that applications for eviction and repossession purposes can be filed to court provided that a written notice of 30 days (unless required otherwise in the legislation) has been served to the tenant which will also automatically terminate the tenancy agreement; in case where such court order is issued the minimum time for compliance is set to 90 days according to article 11(1)(iii) where repossession is demanded due to delay in payment of rents while for other reasons of repossession the eviction Order can be issued with an up to one year postponement for enforcement purposes (article 11(5).

The main challenge that an applicant will phase for successfully obtaining an Eviction Order for reasons concerning own use and occupation is the fact that the courts have repeatedly stated that such need must be a reasonable one and the need must be definite and immediate. (see JVAndreou v. A. Christodoulou (1978) 1 C.L.R. 192). The applicant must also demonstrate that there is an existing need for repossession of his property but the test is a subjective one, meaning such need must be a genuine one, it must be more than a mere wish but something much less than an absolute one (see Yiannopoulos v. Theodoulou (1979) 1 C.L.R. 215). The court will also examine all circumstantial facts surrounding the case in deciding whether such an eviction order would cause greater hardship and inconvenience than not issuing the order for the parties but it excludes such inconvenience being caused to other persons residing in the property that are not parties to the proceedings. Circumstantial facts of the case include but are not limited to whether the tenant is mentally or physically incapacitated, if he is a displaced person or whether an alternative property with equivalent rent exists in the small area where the property is situated and whether the owner purchased the property post enactment of the Rent Control Law.

In conclusion, it stems out from existing case studies that the owner does not bear the onus of proof (for owner-occupancy or owner use purposes) for finding an alternative and similar property for the tenant nor does he bear any responsibility to compensate the tenant. However the owner can present evidence to court showing that he has genuinely tried to find another appropriate property to reside and/or continue uninterrupted his business in the same way he was using it before he rented it out without sustaining greater financial damage than repossessing his own property or that by doing so he would have put himself in a detrimental position both financially and inconvenience wise which is disproportionate to actually repossessing his property.


Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only. It does not constitute a legal advice nor can it be depicted for any professional use. For more information please contact its author, Mr. Paris Hadjhipanayis.

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