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Root level ::> General information ::> Legistation in Greece

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Information on the legislation in Greece

Property ownership in Greece

Owning property in Greece is simple and straightforward. Greek laws authorise foreigners to own properties in most areas of Greece. Anybody, regardless of nationality, can be a property owner. Property in Greece is under the protection of the State (Greek Constitution: Article 17, paragraph 1); all property owners in the country have equal rights and responsibilities.

Restrictions apply only for Non European Union citizens who want to purchase property in border areas (East Aegean, Dodecanese islands, regions of Northern Greece, Crete, Rhodes). They will have to apply to the Council of local Prefecture which grants authorisation after having investigated your position in the community to ensure that you do not have a history of any kind which might be detrimental to the security of the island.

Most properties in Greece are freehold ownership. A nationwide Land Registry is underway; some islands already have land registries, while properties in the other areas are registered in the Registry of Mortgages.

Buildings in Greece are designed and constructed in accordance with European Regulations and Standards, and they are in total compliance with stringent regulations for earthquake protection.

The most important part of the buying process is finding a property that feels like home.
Once you have found your new home and secured financing, completion of the process should not require more than 6-8 weeks.

Informative note for purchase and drawing up contracts of sale in Greece

Contracts that concern real estates in Greece are drawn up by special permitted law professionals called notaries and practise only this profession i.e. drawing up contracts. In order to buy and sell a real estate in Greek territory the following procedures are imposed to be done by the candidate purchaser.

a) He/she selects the real estate that he/she wants to buy.

b) Assigns in a lawyer to precede the research for the legal situation of real estate. As long as National Cadastral map of all territory does not exist in Greece, the cadastral office is now replaced by the land registry where is written down anything that concerns the real estate. In the cities that "CADASTRE» has functioned control must be done.
Namely: Who is the proprietor, whether exists juridical suspense or claim, whether is mortgaged or is registered garnishment etc
Under a simple condition: To have done at least one legal act or notarial act which concerns this real estate, because most of the real estates especially at rural regions do not have titles of property but are transmitted without contracts. Title for these real estates is usucaption. The lawyer who does the legal research at the end of the research does a legal estimation of the real estate.

c) Assigns in a Political Engineer to check the existing topographic diagram that accompanies the proposal of sale and see the real estate. A right topographic diagram includes: the area of the real estate, possibility of layout, the character of extent (whether is in a built-up area) and various other technical characteristics e.g. approvals from forest inspection or archaeological service etc.

d) Choose the notary who will draw up the deed of purchase.

Contracts structure and content

Contracts that concern real estates in Greece are drawn up by special permitted law professionals called notaries and practise only this profession i.e. drawing up contracts. In order to buy and sell a real estate in Greek territory the following procedures are imposed to be done by the candidate purchaser.

a) Each contract has a concrete number given by the Notary and a composition date. This is the real estate identity number in combination with the transcription number given at the Registry office.
b) Report of the detail elements of the contracting parties, full names, father names, mother names, police identity (I. D.) numbers, tax registration numbers, addresses and professions.

c) The real estate is described in details (extent, limits, borders) and reports the Topographer of Engineers elements mentioned at the topographic diagram. At this point all the previous acts, titles of property, contract numbers and registration numbers at the register office are mentioned.

d) Afterwards, is reported the vendors statement, that sells the real estate and is described the price, the terms and the conditions of settlement of price in case it is not paid off immediately during the signature of contracts.
e) The vendor guarantees that the sold real estate has no debts.
f) Thereupon, the buyer undertakes the vendor's real estate and the vendor resigns from any rescission right.
g) The notary reports the copies of tax on transfer of property statement as well as the declared value.
Note: The tax Office imposes the objective value ( i.e. the minimum one) of the real estate apart from the agreed price. If the agreed price is over the objective value the transfer tax the purchaser pays will depend on the superior. If the agreed price is less than the objective value the tax is paid will depend on the objective value.

Finally the notary certifies that the transaction takes place according the law, and reports in brief the relative laws and the certain formal statements of the contracting parties. Observations:
1) The contract is drawn up only in Greek language in one original that always remains at the notary's file, an official copy which is registered at the register office and the purchaser receives as many copies as he/she wants paying the proportional tax. If the purchaser want, he/she may name a translator who takes an oath and translates orally word by word the contract from Greek to the foreigner language. At the end of the contract the translator declares that he/she translated rightly and comprehended completely quoted in the contract the foreigner purchaser and signs for this at the contract. Moreover the purchaser is able to receive a copy and on his own tax to have it translated officially at the Ministry of Abroad at the translational service or may have it translated from a Lawyer acquaintance of foreign language.
2) The parties sign only the prototype contract.
3) By the time the contracting parties sign must possess all the legal documents that would prove the individual identity or the legal representation of representative in case the purchaser is a company.
4) The expenses of Land registry burden the purchaser.
5) The transaction is completed not only with the procedure at the Notary but with the registration at the Register office.

Purchasers expenses when buying property in Greece

The purchaser must pay for the following expenses:

a) The transfer tax is about 7-9% on the objective price or if the agreed price is bigger than on the objective price.
b) The lawyers' fee is about 1-2% (subject of agreement) on the selling price adding the legal research and any other legal advice had offered to the client.
c) The notary's fee is about 1,3% on the deed of purchase mentioned price
d) The estate agent's fee depends on the agreement among the estate agent and the purchaser
e) The registration at the register office is about 4,75 0/00 of the price mentioned on the deed of purchase.

The Ktimatologio (land registry)

The Ktimatologio (land registry) is a modern and better organized public registry for titles of all kinds of immovable property in Greece. Not every place in Greece has until now the new land registry office yet. In fact, most towns and villages in Greece still have their "House of Mortgages" (called Hypothykophylakion), which is the old public registry, an office which has ensured and continues to ensure everybody's rights over immovable property.

What do you have to know about those public regitries?

a) The land registry office is a data base of legal and technical information and descriptions for the accurate assessment of real estate property in Greece. It ensures legal security and certainty regarding immovable property rights and obligations, so that every person of good faith is protected if he/she gives faith to the registrations.
b) The land registry office operates along side with the "House of Mortgages" in the same area
c) In some areas in Greece, where the land registry has been organized up to its final stage, every transaction, sale, purchase, mortgage etc. on real estate is ONLY registeres in this land registry (e.g. Chalkida, some places in the Athens area). In theory, all real estate owners SHOULD have already declared and registeres their property with the local land registry, where it already exists.

BUT there are still thousands of all kind of real estate properties (lands, lots, apartments/condominiums, houses, undivided properties, inheritances, etc.) in above mentioned areas which are NOT been registered with the new land registry. What now?

a) It can be either that nobody has declared the property so far. In this situation the property is registered as "Property of unknown owner".
If you are the owner of such property, you have the right to file an action at the court against the organization of the land registry, in order to prove that the property in question is legally yours and that it should be registered in your name.
b) It can be that trespassers have declared the property as being their own property (worst case scenario). Those wrongdoers are attempting to take advantage of the lack of information of the real owners and are trying to make these 'forgotten' properties illegally theirs, but under the legal veil of the land registry.
If you are the owner of such property, you have to file an action at the court against that person, to prove that the property in question is legally yours and not theirs.
In both cases the time limit to file the action is 5 years from the time that the land registry office has started its full and exclusive operation in that area. If your domicile is outside Greece, the time limit is 7 years.

The time limits passed without filing an proper action?
Automatically you are loosing your property rights over the immovable property and you have only the right to claim fiscal compensation.

Rentals in Greece
According to Art. 1 of law 2235/94 all new leases are today free with a minimum duration of 3 years and all old leases can be terminated by the owner, who, at the end of this period, can have his house vacated, without compensation, or need for explanations. There is no right of a tenant to transfer his tenancy right to anyone else, except in case of his death, his inheritors (immediate family) can either continue the tenancy, or denounce it. Rents on all rentals are freely fixed between owners and tenants. There is no maximum or minimum rent.

Today the rental market of commercial premises is free as far as the height of the initial rent, only rentals with durations shorter than 1year are not protected, or new rentals of historical buildings. The initial rent is freely agreed between owner and tenant, as well as its future increases. The initial duration of a rental is by law at least 12 years. Laws 2.235/1994 and 3741/1999 granted property owners two possibilities, concerning the recuperation of their property:

12 years plus compensation of 24 monthly rents
Any lease older than 12 years can be terminated by the owner, if within 9 months of it's termination, the owner asks for his premises to be vacated. In this case the owner must pay a compensation of 24 monthly rents, and the building can be immediately used even for the same profession, without any additional compensation. No compensation is paid if tenant leaves on his free will, or if he is a lawyer, doctor, mechanic, notary public etc.
16 years without compensation
If the owner does not ask for his property within those 9 months, the lease is automatically prolonged for 4 more years, after which the owner can ask for his property without obligation to pay any compensation. This practically means that today the owner can take back his rented property after a total duration of 16 years, without having to pay a compensation.
There are two main legal ways to evict a tenant before completion of his 12 year term, but not before the end of his contract. Demolishing and rebuilding of the building and eviction for the use of the premises by the owner or his wife or children. In these cases a remarkable compensation is paid to the tenant (1-3 years of rent, depending on the case).