Homeowners: Relax rules

Homeowners intending to offer their apartments and homes as accommodation for visitors to next year’s Athens Olympics have reacted to a condition that excludes homes built before 1981 from participating in the program. The measure, part of a series of criteria set by the housing accommodation program’s coordinator, GNTO, the Greek National Tourism Organization, effectively excludes the majority of apartments located in central Athens, most of which were built years, or even decades, before the stipulated cut-off date. Moreover, the bids lodged by two-thirds of applicants so far would be deemed invalid under the current age-limit criterion, as their homes were built before 1981. A strong earthquake had struck Athens that year. Yesterday, Greece’s Federation of Property Owners (POMIDA), requested, in writing, that the age-limit criterion be revised. The protest raised by the homeowners’ association promises to add further tension to the Olympics accommodation program. Its appointed coordinators – from tenders – Alpha Real Estate and EFG Eurobank Properties, have also expressed opposition to some of GNTO’s regulations. Both have yet to sign binding contracts with Athens 2004, the Olympiad’s coordinating committee. A highly ranked official employed at one of the two aforementioned firms told Kathimerini yesterday that under the program’s current regulations neither Alpha nor EFG Eurobank would sign contracts for the housing project. Moreover, the homeowners’ federation said that it was also dissatisfied with another GNTO policy which allows tourist agencies to rent out property to interested parties without any form of written guarantee. According to the list of regulations issued by GNTO, homeowners also need to submit a certificate, endorsed by a civil engineer, which assures that the property incurred no major damage in the capital’s last major earthquake in 1999. Hoteliers have not been asked to meet such a demand. GNTO’s list of regulations also excludes small apartments, instead favoring homes with at least three bedrooms and two bathrooms, which, obviously, would keep prices at high levels. It is quite clear that under GNTO’s current conditions it will be difficult to obtain the number of homes required for the Olympics accommodation program. Moreover, certain age brackets, such as young couples who might seek cheaper accommodation in a modest studio apartment, are being excluded.