Altered homes solution unveiled

After months of discussions, the government yesterday unveiled its plans to introduce a scheme that will allow homeowners to pay a penalty to protect illegally converted parts of their homes from demolition and channel the proceeds toward the creation of more green spaces. Environment Minister Tina Birbili presented the details of the program, according to which owners can declare areas of homes which were originally planned as balconies, garages or basements but have since been turned into living space, known as «imyipaithroi» (semi-open) in Greek. In return for paying a penalty, the homeowner will be given documents that will allow him or her to continue using this space for the next 40 years without threat of demolition or further fines. The size of the penalty will be calculated according to the size of the area in question, whether the home complies with zoning regulations, the value of property in the area and whether the house is the owner’s main residence. So, a 25-square-meter space in a home that complies with zoning regulations, is the owner’s main residence and is located in an area where the property is valued at 1,100 euros per square meter would lead to the homeowner paying a penalty of 1,375 euros. The money from the penalties will be deposited in a fund, from which it will then be transferred to the municipalities where the homes are located. The local authorities will use this money to create more green spaces, which will include building more parks or appropriating abandoned buildings. Birbili said that private inspectors and officials from town planning offices would be sent out to check on buildings and impose fines on anyone not declaring their illegally converted areas.

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