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Recovery of property for own use

coucounis
Landlord must reasonably require the property and inconvenience is weighted between landlord and tenant

 

If an owner of a house or apartment seeks to recover its possession from a statutory tenant for own use, their eviction is provided by virtue of article 11 (f) of the Rent Control Law, L .23/83. The need arises in cases of repatriation of an owner who does not have any other house to reside in or when the owner’s living conditions change, such as due to health, financial reasons, retirement or even when it is required to house a child or a dependent parent.

It is known that there is a shortage of available houses or apartments, as well as an increase in rents, factors that burden and make it difficult for both owners and tenants. The law sets out specific conditions that the landlord must meet in order to demonstrate that they reasonably require possession of the premises and that the inconvenience they will suffer is greater than that of the tenant if the court does not issue an eviction order.

All the circumstances of each case are weighted and it is taken into account whether the tenant is displaced or suffering, whether there is another available and reasonably priced premises for the tenant’s housing and whether the owner bought the property after the law came into force.

It is also a necessary requirement for the owner to serve a written notice to the tenant for eviction, at least one month in advance and to notify them of the demand. The amendment of the law does not presuppose an obligation of the owner to find another premises for residence nor an obligation to compensate the tenant. There must be a genuine and present need which is definite and immediate on the part of the owner to repossess their premises for own use and not mere desire.

Related to the matter are the two decisions issued by the Limassol-Paphos Rent Control Court, dated February 29, in which the owners demanded recovery of possession of their apartments by invoking own use. The court accepted that in both cases the landlords were reasonably required to regain possession of their flat.

In the one case, the reason was the financial difficulties they were facing and that they were no longer able to pay rent for the apartment they were forced to rent, since the rent was too high and the social pension, they receive was not sufficient, in addition to health problems that they face. In the other case, the reason was that the apartment was required for the owner’s son’s use.

The court in its decisions indicated that the reasonableness of the request is not enough. Furthermore, it stated that it is necessary to weight the inconvenience of each party, ie the consequences that will be caused to each side, either by the issuance of the requested order of recovery of possession, or the refusal of the court to grant the requested remedy, inconvenience which is related to the facts of the case, taking into account at the same time all the circumstances of the case specified in the law. In essence, the court ruled that the owner must establish the reasonableness of issuing the order.

The tenants characterised the request as a pretence, with the real intention being re-renting the property at a higher rent. It was also argued by the tenants that the issuance of the order would cause them more inconvenience than not issuing it, due to their difficult financial situation, medical conditions and their inability to find alternative housing at a reasonable rent.

After evaluating the facts, the court determined that the owners’ demand  to have the apartments for their own use was reasonable and that it was not a simple desire, but a genuine, immediate and definitive need.

On the issue of inconvenience which was also the defence of the tenants, the landlords were contented to express their belief that the tenants could find alternative accommodation, while the tenants countered that they could not afford to find another accommodation.

The court concluded that the landlords needed to present evidence that they had pointed the tenants to specific, available and reasonably priced housing for their relocation. Therefore, the existence of what could be considered a “comparable residence” was taken for granted, let alone whether if such a residence was proven, if it was offered at a reasonable rent. Consequently the court rejected the owners’ petitions.

 

George Coucounis is a lawyer specialising in Immovable Property Law, based in Larnaca. E-mail: coucounis.law@cytanet.com.cy, tel: 24818288

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