Driving through parts of Cyprus we can see skeletal buildings that have “stood” there abandoned for many years and we wonder why they were left there to rot. Of course, abandonment is perhaps their only common point since each building has its own history or very probably part of the history of its last or penultimate owner.

A common history of abandonment is when a developer entrepreneur goes bankrupt causing the construction / renovation project to fail. Bankruptcy can result in a restructuring with a financial institution which in turn offers it for sale or retains it for future sale when market conditions may be more favorable. If the person is already offering it for sale and it remains unsold for a long period of time, then probably the assessment of its value is wrong (high) compared to the physical condition and real possibilities of the property.

That is why the state should implement combined measures to encourage reconstruction and discourage inaction so that these cases go away.

A less common history of abandonment is the fear that if the building is demolished, the (higher) construction rate of the old abandoned building will not be guaranteed by the new development. How realistic is this fear?

The answer is “very realistic”. You see, it is a common occurrence over time that urban areas have been imposed or revised in such a way that the allowed building factor has been reduced compared to the past. This is particularly “striking” in the coastal areas of cities where before the implementation of Local Plans and tourist areas, development was more anarchic and with a higher construction rate. The most methodical and guided development imposed by Local Plans or urban areas in general, has reduced both the construction factors and the number of floors allowed.

Therefore, an old high-rise building, for example, from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s cannot be replicated today if it is demolished. So the owner keeps it with… a low “nails and teeth” and manages to give it new life with the old specifications.

This obsession, of course, only has to do with certain growth factor data, such as build factor and number of floors. Everything else has no real value. For example, the owner cannot seriously claim that such a building is earthquake resistant because it was designed and built then. The design and construction conditions were different then when the stress of only decades makes it unprotected today.

Such a building can receive an earthquake-resistant upgrade, it just requires a lot of money.

If the (theoretical) construction factor value of the existing building is added to this, the solution as an investment option may be economically unprofitable, so it remains unclaimed / unsold. But the owner is usually in denial (struggling with the truth) and waiting.

The point, however, is that such buildings pose a risk to public safety and health, as there is no absolute way to insure them against illegal visitors, they are a source of rodents and other impurities, and we cannot underestimate that their mere exposure to bad weather and their non-maintenance accelerates the negative deterioration of their characteristics making them obsolete.

These really dangerous cases today are not too numerous, but they are striking. But as long as things are left clean in the hands of the owners, the number of cases can increase. Although some decisions and actions have been taken from time to time, the results are not entirely satisfactory.

That is why the state should implement combined measures to encourage reconstruction and discourage inaction so that these cases go away. For example, a regular deadline could be given in which the old building factor would apply if the project was redesigned and cleared, setting an additional regular horizon for the completion of the new project. If the first deadline expires, the right is lost, while if the project falls between the first and second deadline, a heavy fine is imposed on the owner. The more complicated cases in terms of ownership could even be expropriated by the state. Until then, all of you – regardless of province – I’m sure you have at least one case in mind while reading this article.


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