Greece’s Unlawful Building Owners Get New Democracy Break

(Photo by Eurokinissi/ Stelios Missinas)

ATHENS – Owners of illegal buildings in Greece, or those adding additions unlawfully won’t have to raze them or face fines, with the New Democracy government giving them more than four years – until Dec. 31, 2015 to enter a settlement plan, at a higher cost.

Governments in Greece have been reluctant to go after owners of unlawful buildings who represent a sizeable voting bloc, even though illegal structures in the seaside village of Mati were blamed for blocking access to the sea during a July 23, 2018 fire that killed 103.

Unlawful structures were also said to be a major reason for deaths in flooding in the town of Mandra west of Athens and for blocking rainwater and causing erosion and even taking over state land.

The Environment Minister, without explaining why, extended the June 30, 2020 deadline go give the unlawful property owners more time to comply with a scheme legalizing their illegal act if they pay for it.

The legalization fee will increase by 20 percent as of July 1, 2020 and will rise by 5 percent every year after that. The deadline will only be extended by six months in cases of blatant legal violations such as structures that do not have a building license, said Kathimerini.

It is the sixth time in 10 years that a government is introducing measures enabling owners to protect their illegal properties from demolition although former Premier and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras vowed to tear down more than 1100 after the fire.

Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, who had criticized plans to legalize unlawful buildings is now going ahead with legalizing unlawful buildings.

The regulations also stipulate that properties that go on the market after July 1 must carry a digital ID, which will allow public entities to electronically monitor property ownership and will also be required for them to legalize an illegal building.

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