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Is there evidence of particular difficulties faced by migrant/minority groups in purchasing or renting property of their choice?

Key Area:
Housing & Segregation
Discrimination, Equality
16/02/2012 - 02:41
Short Answer


Qualitative Info

 Purchasing is significantly more difficult than renting. No housing loans are available to persons who are not permanently resident in Cyprus. Even if a migrant can provide the purchase price out of personal funds, then a permit from the Council of Ministers is needed. As far as renting is concerned, offering accomodation for rent to undocumented migrants is a criminal offense.

Even in the case of documented migrants, where accomodation is provided by the employer, there is no mechanism to oversee its quality. Female domestic workers, for instance, who form the largest category of migrant workers, are forced to reside in the home of their employers. Although prior to granting the employer a permit to employ a domestic worker a visit is carried out to the employer's premises to check whether the employer has suitable accomodation available for the domestic worker, no subsequent checks are carried out; there have been repeated complaints by domestic workers that they are forced to sleep on the floor or on a sofa, or share the bedroom with the family's children.

Even where migrants reside in rented accomodation, their poor bargaining power and fear of deportation prevent them from raising issues as regards the state of repair or condition of the premises rented to them.

Turkish Cypriots are facing discrimination in the process of purchasing property, as there are legislative provisions (Immovable Property (Temporary Provisions) Law N. 49/1970)  vesting the Director of the Land Registry with discretion to decide as to whether a person is to be allowed to acquire land. Under this provision the Director is given power to “exercise his/her judgement on the basis of the facts whether the acquisition of land may put in danger or by any means affect public security”. If the Director deems that this is the case, he can deny the transfer of the property, unless approval is given by the Interior Minister. In practice this provision has been activated only in the cases of Turkish-Cypriots attempting to acquire or sell land. A complaint against this particular legislative procedure was lodged with the Equality Body in 2010, which decided that the procedure of approval by the Interior Minister of the property transfers to or from Turkish Cypriots amounts to a restriction to the right to property because the completion of the transaction depends on the approval of a third party (the Interior Minister) and is not exclusively dependent upon the will of the contracting parties. The report notes that the procedure applies only when Turkish Cypriots are involved, which is prima facie discriminatory, since individual cases are given different treatment by the law depending on the ethnic origin of the persons involved. The report states that the restriction would have been acceptable had it been objectively and reasonably justified and serving a legitimate aim, which was not the case here; it could not reasonably be claimed that every single property transaction with Turkish Cypriots involves security and public order issues. The equality body report concluded that the implementation of Law 49/1970 has in practice resulted in discriminatory treatment that cannot be justified and therefore called on the authorities to review the question of applying the provisions of this law to all transfers to and from Turkish Cypriots. The equality body’s report is available in Greek at at$file/ΑΚΡ6.2010-23.2010-25082010.doc?OpenElement

[The above procedure applies to Turkish Cypriot properties which were not considered ‘abandoned’ by Turkish Cypriots, as for the latter cases a different regime comes into operation which places these properties under the custodianship of the Interior Minister.]

Groups affected/interested Migrants, Ethnic minorities
Type (R/D) Anti-migrant/xenophobia, Inter-ethnic
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Housing
External Url$file/ΑΚΡ6.2010-23.2010-25082010.doc?OpenElement