The motivation to write this article comes from a particular case that a client, a Greek expatriate, recently asked us to address. We point out the most common property ownership problems encountered by expatriates and share our recommendations. In the article, the term “property” refers to either a land plot or real estate.
The case
Two brothers Dimitris and Vasilis each shared 50 per cent of a 3000m2 land plot in the city of Ioannina.
Dimitris died in 1974 and his will stated that his 50 per cent share was to be inherited by his son Kostas, who today is 65 years old but emigrated to Australia 40 years ago.
Vasilis died in 1979 and his will stated that 100 per cent of the land plot was to be inherited by his own children who live and work in Ioannina, assuming that Kostas would never return to Greece.
Vasili’s children could not come to a consensus on how to distribute the whole of the land plot equally amongst them. Therefore they took the case to the courthouse and the land plot was auctioned in 2009 and purchased by a third party.
Kostas visited the city of Ioannina in the summer of 2011, his third visit since he immigrated to Australia at the age of 15. Today Kostas is trying to find justice and reclaim his share.
Property issues
The most common problems encountered by Greek expatriate property owners have mainly to do with the following: identifying the property’s exact location; identifying the property’s boundaries; encroachment by neighbouring owners; the lack of title deeds; the number of beneficiaries entitled to property ownership / inheritance issues; how to split the property among the beneficiaries; rights of ownership have not been declared in Greece’s National Land Registry; and lack of planning permission for existing properties.
If you are a Greek expatriate with property in Greece, here are some questions to consider.
1. Do you have title deeds for your properties?
As mentioned, this is a common problem. If you do not have title deeds, be sure to acquire these so your property can be registered on the National Land Registry. While its completion is planned for 2020 every region has its own deadlines.
2. Is your property included in the National Land Registry?
Greece has been preparing its National Land Registry since the mid 1990’s. In several regions the registration process has been completed and Land Registry Offices are in operation. In other regions the registration process has begun and the last remaining regions are expected to begin operations in the later part of 2012. You can keep updated with relevant information on every region by visiting The National Land Registry’s website
While browsing The National Land Registry’s website, click on the ORTHOPHOTOS VIEWING SERVICE located on the left hand column. If you know where your property is located you can view it on the site’s interactive map by clicking on the relevant tabs.
If you find that your property is located in an area that has completed the land registration process but you have not submitted the relevant documents (e.g. declaration of ownership, statement of title deed, etc), you should immediately call your lawyer or surveyor to advise you on next steps.
In the regions where land registration procedures have started, be sure to check out the deadline dates in order to declare your property and other assets.
3. Do you have undeclared construction works on your property? For example an attic, basement or extension that was not mentioned in the original building permit?
In this case, property owners have until the end of June 2012 to register the add-ons and to pay the relevant fee. This fee will depend on the year of construction and the size of the add-ons.
Under current law it is prohibited the transfer a title deed if unauthorised construction works have not been declared and settled.
You can find out more on the Ministry of Environment’s website by visiting
4. Are your renting out your property?
In this case you are also required to declare unauthorised construction works. Also be sure to issue an Energy Performance Certificate, which is valid for ten years and is required for new rental contracts and title deed transfers.
5. Are you interested in a valuation of your property and to find out more about the region’s development potential?
Many areas are drawing up master plans for planning and development. A National Strategy for Tourism and other industries are also available.
Ask your surveyor to obtain an overview of the region’s investment potential in order to make the best use of your property.
* Christopher Zinas is active in the regions of Epirus and Lefkada and has over 35 years of experience on dealing with property concerns. He is involved in urban planning projects and has a sound understanding of the National Land Registry and its procedures. Christopher has worked with Greek expatriates from the USA, Canada, South Africa, Germany, Sweden and Australia.