ECONOMY

Greek Law

Greece forbids property purchases by foreign citizens in certain border and island areas. These are the mainland prefectures of Kastoria, Florina, Thesprotia, Xanthi, Rhodope, Evros and Kilkis, and the island districts of the Dodecanese, Samos, Chios, Lesvos, Skyros, Santorini, and some parts of the island of Crete. Nevertheless, Greek law has made some exemptions to the above rules. Foreign citizens may purchase the property they wish if they meet certain requirements. Outline of the procedure: 1. An application must be presented to a special committee at the local authorities. You have to furnish as much information as possible concerning your income, family, profession, assets, criminal record and so on. 2. The reason why you wish to purchase property in the particular area must be clearly noted on the application. The committee comprises the local mayor and representatives of the ministries of National Economy, Defense, Public Order and Agriculture. The committee will decide whether you are allowed to buy the property you want or not. The whole procedure usually lasts 10-12 months. For those who do not wish to personally attend the session(s) of the committee, a lawyer is needed to represent them. Car insurance Car insurance against body and material damages became compulsory on January 1, 1978. Unfortunately, even today a large number of cars on Greek roads are not insured. People will claim that if they are careful drivers they will avoid accidents, and therefore the amount of money spent on car insurance is wasted. The following data relate to accidents involving vehicles in Greece last year: 1. Compensation paid by insurance companies: 152 billion drachmas 2. People injured in car accidents: 32,470 3. People killed in car accidents: 2,094 4. Number of cars that sustained damage: 600,000 5. Chances of having a car accident: 12 percent More than one driver in 10 is involved in a car accident. The amount of compensation an uninsured driver might have to pay for causing material damage will be at least 500,000 drachmas. There are annually over 5,000 accidents involving pedestrians. The amount a driver may have to pay in compensation for causing serious body injury can reach 165 million drachmas. House insurance The government has announced that as of 2002, homeowners will be obliged by law to insure their houses against natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, forest fires, etc). People can insure their homes either by the newly established State Insurance Organization or by private insurance companies. According to Greek legislation, the government has to compensate people who suffer loss in a natural disaster. The compensation which the government is obliged to pay in such cases is getting higher and higher, which led it to introduce legislation making it compulsory for private homeowners themselves to insure their property against these causes. It’s worth it for we all remember the earthquake of September 7, 1999. The compensation paid to those who suffered was over 1 trillion drachmas! Insurance companies and brokers claim that this change is the best solution and will definitely be a plus for the Greek economy. ,Athina Tsakirakis is a lawyer. She contributes to the English edition of Kathimerini twice a month.