This regulation is part of the Greek government’s ongoing effort to properly record all built property. It is paramount to secure and protect your property for yourselves and most importantly, your heirs. Start by asking yourself key questions.
Do I own illegal property?
In many cases, owners of property in Greece are not aware of their ‘property status’, that is, what they actually own. Unlike many countries, the common case in the Greek real estate market for decades now has been that most buildings are in violation of the building codes set by law. This is a concept especially unfamiliar to foreign owners who have bought property throughout the years and overseas Greek owners who have inherited property from family.
In view of this reality, in 2011 the Greek government passed Law No. 4014/2011, which has been replaced by Law No. 4178/2013, effective as of August 2013 and up to February 8, 2016. This law allows a property owner with violations to legalise their illegal structures by filing a declaration, paying either a lump sum with a benefit discount or interest-free instalments. If the property is not declared, fines applicable by the government are extremely high and require an annual fee for maintaining the ‘status’ of the illegal construction.
Why legalise my property now?
According to the Greek Law, you cannot sell, transfer, rent or mortgage property that is illegal in structure or use. If you own land and/or buildings and want to proceed in any legal transaction, you must submit a ‘Declaration of Legal Property Status’ signed by a certified architect confirming that the property is legal and in compliance with the legal building licence issued.
In addition, the newly-voted law allows owners the option to benefit 50 per cent of the total fine to be paid, should they decide to invest in the energy efficiency upgrading or the structural reinforcement of their building.
Furthermore, you will be ready to sell at any time since only ‘legally declared’ constructions can be included in contracts and other documentation. False declarations by all parties involved (e.g. architects, notaries and owners) will be faced with legal charges.
What can be legalised?
In general, all structures can be legally declared, except for those built on forestry land, protected areas, or too close to beaches, riverbeds and roads. Examples of illegal constructions that can be declared are:
• Buildings and landscape structures such as swimming pools, pergolas and canopies without a licence.
• Buildings and extensions on existing buildings that do not comply in dimensions and use or are situated differently on site than indicated on the authorised building drawings and licence.
• Enclosed balconies and verandas, roofed terraces, garages, attics and basements converted into living space.
Where to start?
The first step in verifying the ‘legal status’ of your property is for an on-site inspection to be conducted, after gathering authorised building plans and licenses, if issued. If illegalities are determined, the initial phase of declaring the property can begin without delay. Through the electronic system of the Technical Chamber of Greece, the owner will be given a unique application code of the declaration and the invoice of the initial lump-sum payment necessary to validate the process. Fines are determined depending on the extent in size and of the use of the structure, the time-frame in which it was built and the area’s set tax value.
Fees for each declaration and completion of final documentation/property portfolio differ depending on the nature, size and complicity of each structure.
* Katerina Sirouni is a Greece-based architect and property manager.