Rush to protect illegal properties

Thousands of people who own illegally constructed homes have applied to legalize their properties in recent weeks. Failure to do so would cost them the right to pass on the property to others unless they pay much higher fines, as foreseen by the law.

In contrast, the fees charged under the current amnesty program, which is set to continue until the end of February, are considerably lower.

According to data published earlier this month, the number of applications made since the start of the program in mid-2011 up to the beginning of 2012 was over 236,700. The figure is currently estimated to have climbed to over 250,000.

Total revenues from the amnesty program are expected to come to more than 1.2 billion euros, while 173 million euros had been collected by early January. Only a small section of the applicants have actually reached the stage where they are paying the first installment of the penalty imposed by authorities.

The Environment Ministry has set up a hotline for homeowners and civil engineers.

Meanwhile, the government has announced that illegal constructions which have entered the legalization process will be connected to the power grid without delay.

The Finance Ministry said that revenue from a scheme that allowed homeowners to pay a one-off fee to protect illegally altered parts of their property, known as ?imiypaithrioi,? had risen to 883 million euros by the end of last year. Around 193 million euros was collected in administrative fees.

In a statement, the Finance Ministry said the revenues had met expectations. The money will be used, through the Green Fund, to upgrade the country?s urban and natural environment.

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