Law to put homes in order in a mess

A recently passed law that allows more than 1 million homeowners to pay a fee to exempt illegally constructed parts of their property from further penalties is unconstitutional, according to a judicial team of the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court, sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini. A plenary session of the Council of State is due to issue its ruling on the law next month but a team of its judges have already examined the legislation and decided that it clashes with Article 24 of the constitution on the protection of the environment. If the court arrives at this conclusion in September, then the government will have to rethink the law. Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias announced in July that the new law aimed to «put in order» the status of areas of homes which were originally planned as balconies but have since been turned into closed rooms. Under the legislation, which could earn the government 2 billion euros in extra revenue, homeowners could pay 10 percent of the official value of the surface area as set by the tax office in order to obtain documents that stop short of legalizing these spaces, known as «imyipaithroi» (semi-open) in Greek. However, since the law was passed, notaries who have been preparing paperwork for the sale and purchase of thousands of properties have pointed out that the law fails to make it legal to transfer ownership of homes where these «semi-open» spaces have been «put in order.» To make matters more complicated, two Supreme Court prosecutors are also examining whether «semi-open» spaces for which a penalty has already been paid can be legitimately sold as part of a property. They are due to issue their rulings later this month.