Council of State questions scheme for illegal properties

Homeowners who have signed up to government schemes to “put in order” illegal or illegally altered properties since 2011 will be on tenterhooks until the Council of State publishes its ruling on whether these programs were unconstitutional.

It is believed that the country’s highest administrative court ruled a few days ago that the schemes – allowing the owners of properties that breached building regulations to protect their homes from demolition – are illegal. However, the court is unlikely to publish its ruling for another two or three months.

The Environment Ministry, which launched the first of these schemes in 2011, assured homeowners who have paid penalties to ensure that their homes are protected from demolition, as part of the process to put the properties “in order,” that they will not be affected by the ruling. It said that they would be included in a new framework being developed for illegal properties.

“Citizens who have made use of the provisions in the 2011 law will be included in the provisions of the new law as the penalties they have paid will be offset against any new obligations,” said the ministry.

More than 500,000 properties have either been through these schemes or are in the process of doing so. This had raised almost 800 million euros for the government by the end of February. About 530 million euros came from penalties and the rest from processing fees that applicants had to pay.