New phase of Land Register set to distribute titles in 2003

As of next spring, the first preliminary titles are expected to be handed out to property owners under the first pilot program of the new National Land Register. Later next year, property owners will be called upon to pay a fee ranging from 30 to as much as 880 euros, according to the type, size and location of the property. Announcing the move earlier this week, Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou also presented the National Land Register’s new operating program, soon to be submitted for approval to the European Commission for inclusion in the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII). Papandreou announced that in early 2003, 38 land register bureaus will be opened in cooperation with existing deed offices, to be followed by another 65 by the end of next year, covering all areas in which the total of three pilot programs are to be carried out. The new operating program, which the EU is expected to approve in early 2003, is to cover 440,000 hectares and 4.5 million titles, an area with a population of 3.2 million. The program is expected to cost 283 million euros, half to be funded by CSFIII, the other half by the State. The entire land register is expected to be complete when the final studies are assigned in 2010 – at a total cost of about 2.5 billion euros. Another 185 million euros are needed to meet operating costs, equipment, information systems and other costs. CSFIII will cover a large percentage of these costs, with the balance coming from state funds and income from the fees paid by property owners. These fees will be a one-off payment for the rights to ownership, mortgage, transfer of ownership, leasing and time-sharing. All real estate comes under four different categories: 1) plots of land within the city; 2) limits, including single homes; 3) strata titles (apartments and maisonettes); 4) farm holdings outside city limits; 5) mines. The country itself has been divided into six classifications, based on land values set by the Finance Ministry. Property duties are to be calculated on the basis of both the property itself and the area of classification. The minister also announced changes to the institutional framework of the land register to be implemented soon with new legislation. The new bill will speed up the procedure for lodging objections by replacing the primary committee with a process for applying for corrections. It will also provide for a ban on declaring ownership by sole possession after the land register’s completion, to prevent attempts by third parties to obtain ownership of private or state property. Several amendments refer to the transition from the existing system of land transfers to the land register system after all mapping studies have been completed. The previous law provided for the finalization of initial registrations within five years. The new bill calls for transitional procedures to facilitate transactions pending final court rulings on disputed titles.

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