The owner of a Nicosia apartment block on Thursday denied cutting off electricity and water from residents who refused to leave after being given notice to vacate their flats.
Emilios Emmanouil told Radio Active that media reports regarding the treatment of the 100 or so residents of the building near Ochi roundabout in Nicosia within the walls were ‘absurd.’
His statements came a day after Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said that police were investigating the issue.
Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said that social workers were assisting and that no-one would be left homeless.
The incident has highlighted a housing shortage problem, particularly for low income groups and asylum seekers.
Residents have told the media that they were given only eight days to leave. They said they had paid their rent and their utility bills and that they have nowhere to go.
The company which owns the property countered that 70 of the 100 people had voluntarily left and been given compensation.
It added that six have been found alternative housing, four will remain on site until they find somewhere elsewhere to go while 20 are refusing to leave.
On Wednesday, Nicolaou said that police were taking statements to determine whether any offences have been committed by the owner or any other person in which case legal action will be taken.
He added that he had seen reports that water and electricity provision had been cut, which he said was unacceptable.
“Police are investigating all eventualities and having in mind that there are conflicting or unclear events I would like to note that all this will clarify from the police inquiries,” he said.
Emmanouil denied that the company had cut off utilities from tenants who have refused to leave.
“The media reports are absurd. The police came, carried out its investigation and found nothing,” he said.
The company has only cut utilities at apartments which had been vacated. And he said it was the tenants who had thrown out belongings they did not want, not the owners.
He said that the owners had decided many months ago to clean up the building which had been become overcrowded and derelict. Eight months ago, residents were told that the company planned to clean up the building. They were ‘gifted’ rents, paid compensation and signed a letter agreeing to leave on December 15.
The Labour Minister said two families have already been taken to hotels by the welfare service while some others remain at the premises.
She said that electricity and water has been restored and assured that no one will be left homeless.