Minister hits back in building law row

Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias yesterday rebuffed claims by notaries that his amendment to the law on so-called «semi-open» spaces in buildings means that owners cannot lawfully sell these properties. The Supreme Court is examining the legislation, which is estimated to affect more than 1 million people, after notaries complained that the new law fails to make it legal to transfer ownership of a home where these «semi-open» spaces, or «imyipaithroi» in Greek, have been «put in order,» as Souflias refers to it. «The provisions are clear,» said Souflias. «Notaries are obliged to record in sale contracts the space as it is described in the building permit, in other words as a semi-open space, so there is no legal problem. Also, they are obliged to record the fact that, in accordance with the new law, this area has been put in order.» The controversial legislation focuses on the status of areas in homes that were originally planned as balconies but have since been turned into closed rooms. Under the new rules, which could earn the government 2 billion euros, homeowners are invited to pay 10 percent of the official value of the surface area to obtain documents that sanction but stop short of legalizing these spaces. Despite Souflias’s intervention, notaries insisted that the legal implications of the new law need to be cleared up. «We insist that there is still an impasse and that the Supreme Court prosecutor has to issue his judgment in order to safeguard the transfer of properties,» said the president of the Athens Notaries’ Association Constantinos Vlachakis.

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