NEWS

Building penalty could hit thousands

More than 1 million households could soon be forced to pay thousands of euros each to ensure that areas of their homes which were originally planned as balconies but have since been turned into closed rooms are not liable to be demolished. A gap in building laws has allowed developers to include so-called semi-open (imiypaithrii) areas in homes. These are essentially covered balconies that have walls on three sides but are open on the fourth. It is estimated that some 1.5 million of these spaces have been closed off and turned into rooms proper. Earlier this month, Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias suggested the government was working on a plan to regulate all these illegally closed spaces in Greek homes. Souflias emphasized this would not amount to a legalization, which would allow homeowners to include the square meters taken up by the semi-open spaces in the total area of their home and therefore push up its price. The government’s plan to regulate the matter means that homeowners will simply be able to protect themselves against possible demolition of the offending part of their house or apartment, which the law demands. Sources have now indicated that the ruling conservatives are working out how much households will have to pay to protect their properties from any action in the future. Economy and Finance Ministry sources indicated that homeowners will be asked to pay between 10 and 30 percent of the official value of the semi-open space. This means that in areas where each square meter is valued at 2,000 euros per square meter, for example, by the ministry, the fine for a semi-open space of 12 square meters will cost between 2,400 and 7,200 euros.