The Parliament of the Republic of Cyprus recently amended the Rent Control Law of 1983, aiming to change the way the disputes for non-payment of rent are regulated.

A non-paying tenant has two ways of avoiding eviction. Firstly, to pay outstanding rents in arrears within 21 days from the time they are claimed. Secondly, to pay outstanding rents within 14 days from the service of the landlord's application for possession.

In addition, until now, the tenant had to submit a reply to the Court within 14-days of receiving the landlord's application but had no obligation to provide any proof of payment. It was up to the landlord to prove, at the time of the filing of the application for possession, that the rent lawfully due remained unpaid. This left an opportunity for parties to make fabricated allegations about whether rent has or has not been paid and further create a dispute about the facts of the case.

The amended Law

According to the latest amendments, this will be resolved by shifting the burden of proof for payment onto the tenant. Under the new Law, a tenant can only submit a reply to the landlord's application if he/she paid the rent due and provides proof of payment to the Court Registrar at the time of submitting his/her reply. Payment can be made to the Court's accounting department, or to the applicant (or his/her representative) directly or via a bank payment.

Once it has seen proof of payment, the Court Registrar will make a decision on whether to accept or reject the submission of the tenant's reply. The reply will be presented before the Rent Control Court within three days for approval of the Court Registrar's decision. This judgment will not be subject to appeal.

If the tenant fails to provide the necessary proof of payment within the deadline, an Order will be made requiring the tenant to vacate the premises within a period not less than 90 days. However, if the tenant does furnish the Court with the necessary proof, then the dispute will follow the standard Court process to a hearing, if not resolved by the parties.

These amendments essentially shift the burden of proof of payment onto the tenant and are expected to expedite the process of examination of these type of cases by the Courts, especially in circumstances where the tenant fails to provide the necessary proof of payment.

These changes do not mean that the process will be automatic or free of any human involvement. The desired effect is to have a faster process in cases of non-payment of rent by removing the obligation of the landlord to submit further evidence.

The Law came into force on the 31st of January 2020.

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