NEWS

?»??»??»?Home protection to go online

Having seen a previous initiative for homeowners to register illegally altered parts of their properties bedeviled by delays and long queues, the government is set to announce that it will only accept online applications to protect homes that were built without permits from demolition.

Sources said that next week the Environment Ministry is set to test a webpage that allows homeowners to register the details of illegal properties ahead of the process beginning on October 1. The government announced last month that people who have built homes without permits or in areas where construction was forbidden will be able to pay a penalty that will protect the structures from demolition for 30 years.

Ministry officials have decided not to use Citizens? Information Centers (KEPs) or town-planning offices for accepting applications because of the problems caused by last year?s initiatives for ?imiypaithrioi,? or semi-open spaces, which allowed homeowners to pay a fine for parts of their homes that had been turned into living space without permission. The backlog that this built up at town-planning offices led to the deadline for submissions being extended repeatedly.

Sources said that the wording of the law on illegal buildings allows the ministry to set up a purely online process, which means that applicants will need to have their documents available in an electronic format. The government is thought to favor this for another reason apart from avoiding overburdening some departments, which is that it cannot be held back by public sector strikes.

The ministry has yet to decide how the submission fees will be paid. The size of the fines to be faced by homeowners will depend on the size of the property, real estate values set by tax offices and the type of offense. Properties built before 1983 will have their fines reduced by 80 percent. Those constructed between 1983 and 2003 will receive a 20 percent discount.