Scheme for illegal properties unveiled

The government on Thursday submitted to Parliament a bill allowing owners of illegal properties to pay fines to protect their homes from demolition, which prompted some critics to accuse PASOK of trying to introduce the measure simply to raise money.

?Our choice is as follows: We ignore the real situation and let people live with a threat hanging over their heads or we try to apply some rules,? said Environment Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou, whose department drew up the bill.

?We have decided to confront the problem.?

The bill allows owners of properties that have either not been built within the legal requirements or which have not been constructed with a permit, even those currently involved in legal disputes with the state, to pay a fine to protect their homes from demolition for 40 years.

The size of the fine will be calculated by multiplying the number of square meters that have been built illegally by the property prices set for each area by the local tax office. This will then by multiplied by 15 percent. Finally, the amount will be multiplied by a figure determined by a sliding scale of offenses.

So, if a building has been constructed without a permit, the total will be multiplied by three. If the offense is one of building beyond the town plan, the total will be multiplied by two. If the property is the owner?s main residence, the factor will be 0.5. There are a range of other offenses that relate to the degree to which building regulations have been violated.

Homeowners will have to pay between 500 and 2,000 euros when they submit their applications. The fines will have to be paid in 24 to 36 monthly installments.

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