fines on converted open spaces
News, 9 April 2010
Following the abolition of a similar law passed by New Democracy last
year, a cabinet meeting on April 7 approved a new bill on so-called imyipaithroi (semi-open
spaces), or illegally built-in areas of homes originally planned as
balconies, garages, basements or terraces. This time, however, Envirornment
Minister Tina Birbili’s proposed legislation is not offering transgressors
a chance to legitimise the extra roomspace in return for a one-off
tax levy as the previous law had done.
Instead, the new bill is cast in the mould of environmental regulation,
replacing the taxes with environmental fines ranging from 5 percent
to 23 percent of the illegally converted area, depending on its size,
location, objective value and whether the house is the owner’s main
residence or a capital asset earning rent.
Birbili said that in return for paying a penalty, the homeowners will
be granted special permits allowing them to continue using the converted
spaces for the next 40 years without the threat of demolition or further
Another environment-friendly innovation of the new bill is the proposed
establishment of a "green fund" within the ministry where the revenue
from the fines on converted spaces will be channeled. The money from
the fund would then be transferred to the municipalities where the
homes are located for the creation of green areas, including new parks
or refurbished abandoned buildings.
Birbili warned that the ministry would hire private inspectors who,
together with town-planning officers, would be authorised to check
on illegally converted buildings and impose additional fines on those
who won’t declare them after the legislation comes into force.