A deadlock between the government and private land registry officers has raised yet another obstacle to the recovery of Greece’s beleaguered property market, as registrars persist with a decision to abstain from part of their duties since February 26.
According to that decision, land registry offices (“ypothikofylakia”) have been accepting new entries but have not been issuing any certificates or making corrections to land registry documents. The effects of the protest are already apparent in the real estate market, as potential buyers are unable to carry out all of the transactions they need. The same, meanwhile, applies to transactions made via auctions.
Greek Land Registrars Association board member Ioanna Tzinieri explains that the country’s private registrars are only carrying out what is deemed as “emergency business,” such as approving the protection of main residences from lenders. The aim of the action, registrars argue, is to make both the public and the state aware of the importance of the work they carry out for citizens’ everyday lives and the property market in order to pressure the government into reassessing new legislation that foresees the abolition of private land registries.
Seventeen such offices have become public since September, resulting in unprecedented problems such shortages in basic supplies and major delays in processing transactions, due to a lack of resources and know-how among the new staff.
Registrars warn of chaos in the real estate market once all private firms come under the state’s control, stressing concerns about transaction security in particular. They are also worried about suggestions that the state may be planning to create a single land registry body through revenues from the existing offices.
Land registry offices are responsible for any business related to property, such as issuing building permits or mortgages, rentals, confiscations, power supply installations, tax debt settlements, etc, which means that continued action will have serious effects on the market.
For the time being, however, registrars have taken legal action in demand that the cadaster law be abolished, with their case scheduled to be heard in May. They also warn that they could escalate their action and, as there appears to be no intention from the government’s part to discuss their demands, that the go-slow action will continue indefinitely.