City buildings are an ugly sight to be avoided
City buildings in Cyprus are in such a bad state that one is better off not looking at them.
Many buildings have never been maintained, resulting in an unacceptable state of affairs both in the sector of security as well as aesthetics, in almost all town areas.
The result is that both people living in these buildings as well as neighbours have to put up with this chaos.
What must be taken into account is that the value of these buildings as well as newer ones in the vicinity diminishes to an alarming level. Consequently, when properties go on the market they never secure a good selling price.
A ray of hope emerged following cases of collapsing old balconies, but soon after that it was all forgotten. One of the stumbling blocks in restoring these buildings remains the fact that based on current legislation too many agencies are involved, the Lands & Surveys Dept., municipalities, etc.
Experience also tells us that a lot of owners are not willing to pay for these repairs.
Property owners know all too well that a minor maintenance is required every three or so years, only to be followed by a major one every decade. Major repairs might account for about 10% or more of the cost of the house.
Many apartment owners fail to understand that buildings need maintenance and no-one will pay for them.
The Cyprus Association of Property Owners has set the maintenance of these buildings as a priority.
It might be a good idea to set up a system along the lines of the motor vehicle MOT inspections, whereby every three years a building’s Main Administrative Committee employs a licensed engineer to inspect and report problems, based on set guidelines.
If the inspector’s repair list is not followed and repairs are not carried out within six months then the new agency to be set up would have the right to step in, make the repairs and charge the owners.
Completion of necessary repairs would be followed by a relevant certificate and be posted on the building’s notice board. This would be required to be presented during the sale or rent of any flat.
The relevant law (on commonly held buildings), requires several changes to become efficient, including:
All owners must automatically be members of the Administrative Committee, by law, regardless of whether they attend the meetings or not, so that they bear the responsibilities of all decisions;
The Administrative Committee’s ability to collect common expenses must be strengthened by law, i.e. legal proceedings must be expedited for small claims;
Any illegal activities by owners/tenants regarding common areas, (staircases, roof, parking place), must be regarded as a criminal offence and police must be empowered to intervene;
The amount of common expenses to be paid by each flat must be clear enough and not be left to the discretion of each Administrative Committee;
The law must explicitly provide for the creation bailout fund to aid future repairs and maintenance.
It is high time that state and municipal officials take measures that will paint a better and safer picture of our towns and their buildings.