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Ministry of Environment causes scandal with a bill for illegal construction

07 August 2009 / 20:08:19  GRReporter
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The Ministry of environment and public works caused a juridical thriller with the bill for the illegally built-up areas it proposed. As GRReporter has already informed you, the bill plans for substantial fines for home-owners that have added illegal constructions to their houses or apartments. These fines, however, do not legalize the illegal constructions, i.e. the government reserves its right to impose secondary fines on the same constructions at a later stage. The Notaries Union was highly disturbed by the bill in question and appealed to the prosecutor's office for intervention and consequently an expert examination of the case was ordered.

The notaries' concern is that the bill proposed does not legalize the constructions that have been declared for a specific use but actually used for something else, a declared balcony, used as a kitchen, for example. Besides not legalizing them, the fines do not force the owners to remove the constructions or bring them to their original use. Legal experts claim that currently the implication of such a law is not possible since it contradicts with already existing ones and if it were to be put in use, the whole juridical system would have to be changed. They note that the current system does not allow legalizing of illegally built-up areas. The bill, which purpose is to settle the issue, actually neither legalizes the constructions, nor forces owners to reorganize their use, i.e. they remain intact.

Further more, the bill explicitly prohibits legalizing of the areas or constructions and participants in such actions- notaries, lawyers, and real estate brokers- will be subject to legal liability. The Notaries Union argues that after the bill was published in the Official Gazette many jurists are left with the impression that since the law allows for the built-up areas to continue being used out of their purposes even after fines are imposed, this indirectly means that they are automatically legalized. This is why the notaries turn to the Supreme prosecutor's office to verify the legality of the bill. Up to now, the Ministry of environment had no official response to the notaries' appeal.

In Greece, building-up of open areas is an usual practice for "fooling" the state about the size of a residence and paying lower taxes. For example, the apartment declared has two bedrooms and an attic, which later on is turned to a second floor with two more bedrooms. Most often such frauds exists at the sea side, where one declares a one-floor building for agricultural needs, which is later on turned into a three-floor hotel.

Tags: Greece real estate laws
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