Terminating a Legally Binding Rental Contract & a Cyprus Tenants Rights
In Cyprus, a tenancy agreement is a legally binding document on all parties involved in the leasing arrangement, each to fulfill their own contractual duties, as per most common law jurisdictions.
The tenant’s duty of care is to pay rent in a timely manner and look after the property and its contents, while the landlord’s lawful duty is to provide a safe and fully functional living space that is the same standard as advertised.
Therefore, Cyprus Law has its own clause in the event that a rental agreement becomes unworkable. These are usually due to unforeseen circumstances that made the premises unsuitable for use for the purpose they were rented; by reason not accountable to either the tenant or the landlord.
The Doctrine of Frustration According to Cyprus Legislation
The cause may be anything which essentially ‘frustrates’ the tenancy agreement enough to deem the property to be unfit to live in, including:
- Any action of Force Majeure such as land sale or other unforeseen events.
- Flood, fire, earthquake damage or other natural disasters.
In such a case, Cyprus law holds that each respective party to the contract are discharged from their contractual obligations:
- The tenant is not entitled to claim from the landlord for repairs to the premises.
- The landlord cannot claim rent from the tenant.
Provided that the ownership and the use of the property and surrounding areas was lost and reverted to the landlord, the tenant’s obligation to pay rent ceases from the date the premises became unlivable.
Limitations of Cyprus The Doctrine of Frustration
Frustration, according to Cyprus land law is notably different from unsuitability of the premises due to minorly burdened defects. Smaller issues such as below do not constitute frustration:
- Having a watertight roof or not.
- Having double glazing or not.
- Normal everyday wear and tear to the property.
- Constituting a hazard to the life of the occupant or neighbour.
In this case, the issue is regulated by the terms of the written tenancy agreement which define the rights and the obligations of the two contracting parties.
In the absence of such a regulation or of a tenancy agreement and provided the tenancy is statutory, the matter is resolved using Cyprus Rent Control Legislation.
Cyprus Tenant’s Rights when Leasing an Unfit Property
The landlord has an obligation to repair and maintain the premises and if he omits to do so, an actionable right is created in favour of the tenant for damages based on the costs for restoring the premises to their previous condition.
Cyprus legislation allows statutory tenants to claim damages for any costs suffered from performing any maintenance or repairs to the building or surrounding premises, which should have been carried out by the landlord.
It is important to note that the tenant is not permitted to withhold payment of the rent depriving it from the landlord or to offsetting any losses with the cost of the rent as he sees fit as long as they remain living in the premises.
According to the judgement of a recently issued case in the Cyprus Rent Control Court, there was an intervention to the fundamental right of a statutory tenant’s possession of a Nicosia property. The tenant’s rights can be remedied through via an interim order or a lawful termination of the tenancy contract.
For any further information on any of the topics mentioned above, please contact us, we have local property specialists who would be happy to assist.