Legalising Property Before Selling It In Greece

Date: 04.05.2018 / By Christos Iliopoulos / / Comments (0)

When it comes to real estate in Greece, no transaction can take place unless a civil engineer issues a certificate that the property does not have illegal constructions or parts.

This means that apart from the several other documents required for the transaction to be executed and the deed to be registered at the local land registry, for which it is usually the attorney of the involved parties who ensures the legality of the real estate transfer, the property must also be inspected by a civil engineer.

The engineer’s role is to make sure, and officially certify, that neither the plot nor the land has any building on it, or the house, apartment or store does not have any irregularities with regards to building regulations.

In Greece, a large number of constructions, houses, buildings and apartments have been built with minor or significant breaches of the building legislation. Those built before 28 July 2011 can be legalised under certain conditions, the most significant being the payment of a (usually affordable) fine. However those built after that date cannot be legalised and according to the law must be demolished.

Meanwhile the most serious consequence for any illegal construction built after 28 July 2011, or one built before that date but not legalised, is that it cannot be sold, gifted or transferred in any other way. This means that it is losing its market value.

The motive, therefore, to legalise any construction in Greece stems from the wish to sell or transfer the said property. Such a sale or transfer cannot take place unless the property is proven legal or legalised.

However do note that houses built before 1955 are exempt and do not need any legalisation.

The law regarding the legalisation process was recently updated and provides for the case where an entirely or partially illegal construction is owned by more than one owner and what happens if not all of them agree to follow the legalisation process.

When more than one person or legal entity owns the same property, each of them is a joint owner of the property with a percentage share (ab indivisio ownership). For example, they may be siblings or relatives who inherited property. What happens if some of the co-owners of the property do not agree to file for its legalisation?

The updated law (Law 4495/2017) in Article 98 states that in the case where more than one person owns the property which needs to be legalised, even one of them, irrespective of their percentage, can file for legalisation without the need of consent or approval by the other co-owners.

In such a case, the fine for the entire property will have to be paid by the co-owner who files for legalisation. However, this co-owner retains the right to claim the amount they paid on behalf of the other co-owners from them.

Also it should be noted that stricter rules for the legalisation of properties within environmentally protected areas, such as NATURA, have now been imposed.
Premises situated by the seaside and touching the water (where it is illegal and unconstitutional to own any private property), properties within forest land, commonly used areas, archaeological sites and where streams or creeks exist or existed, cannot be legalised.

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