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Media Watch 2007

23 May 2007
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author:
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 23 May 2007.
Home owners in the north only have themselves to blame for crisis
THE NUMBER of British house-buyers being cheated by developers, estate agents and builders in the occupied north has been steadily rising. People who have been the victims of dishonest developers, incompetent builders and crooked lawyers are now posting accounts of their experiences on a website, for prospective buyers to see.

"THE NUMBER of British house-buyers being cheated by developers, estate agents and builders in the occupied north has been steadily rising. People who have been the victims of dishonest developers, incompetent builders and crooked lawyers are now posting accounts of their experiences on a website, for prospective buyers to see.

Some of these accounts make shocking reading. Pensioners who had used up all their savings for a dream home in the sun have ended up with nothing, either because the developer took their money and ran or because the house they bought off-plan was never built. There are also cases of double selling, half-built houses and properties being sold without electricity and running water. And once the buyers realise they had been duped there is little they could do to recover their money, according to most accounts.

These problems have become so widespread that a pressure group was set up in order to demand help from the Talat regime. Known as the Home Buyers’ Pressure Group (HBPG), it now boasts 1,000 members, a number that gives a good indication of the scale of the problem -we are not talking about a few isolated cases caused by a couple of crooked developers but about a large number of scams. And the reason there are so many, according to the HBPG, is because of “an unlawful, unregulated and uncontrolled construction industry”.

But why on earth does the HBPG expect a lawful and regulated construction industry when it knows that this is primarily based on an illegality - the exploitation of Greek Cypriot-owned properties? Developers, builders and estate agents trading in properties built on stolen land are unlikely to have any qualms about cheating their clients. Nobody in their right mind would expect the members of an industry based on blatant illegality to embrace high professional standards and ethical practices.

The occupation regime has shown little sympathy to the plight of the duped house-buyers. ‘Prime minister’ Ferdi Soyer has claimed that British TV shows highlighting the problems faced by house-buyers in the north had been inspired by Greek Cypriots. This could only be interpreted as a refusal by Soyer to recognise the problem, let alone do anything about it as it was the product of Greek Cypriot propaganda. Faced with this indifference from the authorities, HBPG decided to stage a demonstration outside the ‘parliament’ in north Nicosia, but it was called off at the last minute after Talat’s office promised to arrange a meeting to discuss ways of solving the problems.

The members of the HBPG should not set their expectations too high as Talat’s primary concern is to limit the negative publicity for the north. And they should also consider the fact that they have only themselves to blame for the problems they are facing now. They all knew that there were big risks involved in buying a property in the occupied north, but still paid up."