City build­ings are an ugly sight to be avoided

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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