Sunday, 10 May 2009
Renting an apartment or a house in Cyprus
It is fairly easy to find and rent an apartment or house in Cyprus. Many apartments are intended for short- to medium-term rentals with a surplus of rental properties available in the winter off-season. Some flats are available furnished or partially furnished; the rest typically come equipped with a fully fitted kitchen and built-in cupboards/closets.
Apartments and houses are usually rented on the basis of a contract for a period of one or two years with the possibility of renewal. For these longer-term rentals, landlords usually require the tenant to pay the equivalent of one month’s rent as a deposit and one month’s rent in advance when the contract is signed. The deposit is refunded when the contract expires, except when the owner withholds part or all of it to cover damage.
The tenant generally pays for utilities with water, electricity and heating costs not included in the rental price. For short-term rentals, of less than 6 months, the rent often includes all utilities and is typically paid in advance.
The cost of renting depends on the location of the building and on factors such as the level of equipment in the accommodation. Prices are generally highest in Nicosia; rents are lower in Larnaca and Limassol, but properties with sea view or close to the sea do command a premium. Prices may be negotiable with landlords willing to offer a discount on the advertised price.
Rental advertisements in English can be found in newspapers and property guides. Real estate agencies also represent rental properties. Estate agent website often offer a search capability or prospective renters can ask an agent to take them to a selection of rental properties. The agency fee, normally one month’s rent, is paid by the landlord. Many real estate agencies also offer relocation services.
Signing the Lease
Before signing the lease it is important to clarify:
- the duration of the lease
- whether the lease can be renewed
- the amount of the deposit and under what conditions it is refundable
- which utilities are included
- whether the landlord can raise the rent after the initial rental period is over
- who else has keys to the property
- It may also be helpful to confirm whether subletting is allowed, whether permission is required to make superficial changes, whether pets and smoking is allowed and whether parking available.
The renter may insist that a formal lease agreement in English be drafted and signed, laying down the agreement and the renter's rights. All concessions made to the renter or repairs promised should be included, with an appendix stating the current condition of the property, furniture, and fittings. The landlord should confirm, in writing, any additions to the contract as well as the termination of the contract itself.
Terminating the Lease
Only the tenant has the right to terminate the contract. The notice period should be specified in the contract - typically, one or two month’s notice is required. If the renter must leave prior to the expiration of the contract, they are obliged to find another tenant or pay the full rent for the period, provided that the flat remains un-rented. If the landlord rejects three potential tenants presented by the departing renter, the renter has the right to terminate and leave within the regular notice period.
Domestic electricity is 240 V AC, 50Hz. Plugs used are the British-type 13 amp 3 flat pin.
Registration with the Electricity Authority of Cyprus or at local customer service centres is necessary to get electricity connected/turned on. Sometimes, the landlord will do this and charge the renter according to meter usage. Online bill payment directly with the Electricity Authority of Cyprus is also possible.
There is no country-wide gas network and natural gas (LPG gas) often used for cooking and heating is sold in 10 Kg canisters at supermarkets. Larger bottles are available by delivery.
Cyta and PrimeTel provide telephone, Internet (and broadband), mobile telephone and digital TV services.
Typically, the landlord will pay for water. This expense may be forwarded to the tenant.
The Cyprus Water Development Department manages public water supply to the island but each Municipality has its own water authority. Contact the local Municipal offices for registration if this is required.