Illegal homes bill is finalized

Environment Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou on Thursday proposed a series of amendments to a draft bill that allows owners of illegal homes to purchase a demolition amnesty for their properties, reducing the fines for buildings constructed outside of the town plan but raising the charge for the submission of applications.

According to the new provisions of the bill, illegal homes outside the town plan will gain the same status as those within the town plan — namely protection from demolition for 30 years. After 30 years, the homes will either be inducted into a new town plan or the owners will be called upon to pay a new fine.

The size of the fines to be faced by homeowners will depend on the size of the property, real estate values set by the tax offices and the type of offense.

Another significant change to the draft law — which has the backing of the main conservative New Democracy and the rightwing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) — is the demand that owners of illegal homes planning to sell their properties commission a civil engineer?s report.

Papaconstantinou also confirmed that up to 15 percent of the funds gathered from the fines would go toward boosting social security funds such as the debt-ridden Social Security Foundation (IKA).

The bill, which is to be voted on in Parliament on Tuesday, has already been tweaked once. The key amendments proposed by Papaconstantinou at the end of last month are smaller fines for properties that were illegally built prior to 1983.

Owners of such properties will be eligible for an 80 percent discount on their fines while owners of homes built between 1983 and 2003 will get a 20 percent discount. Disabled citizens will also be eligible for a heavily discounted fine on illegally built homes.

Another new change announced Thursday is that the demolition amnesty will apply to owners of properties built illegally up until July 28, 2011, rather than until April 28, 2010, as the original bill had foreseen.

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