Ten things you need to know about the penalty process
Athens Plus, 23 April 2010

Here are some answers to basic questions about the regulations that the government is introducing to encourage homeowners to declare illegally altered parts of their properties so they can be protected from demolition or further penalties for the next 40 years.

To which areas of a home does the new legislation apply?
To any areas that are within the main building and whose use has been illegally altered. This includes "semi-open" spaces (known as "imiypaithrioi") that have been turned into actual rooms, basements, ground floor garages and lofts.

What documents will a homeowner have to provide?
The following documents will be needed: a copy of the building permit, the land survey, a civil engineer's report, a floor plan and a photograph of the area of the property whose use has changed. Homeowners will also have to give a sworn statement describing what the area is used for, how large it is and the date on which its use was changed.

To whom does the statement have to be submitted?
To the local town-planning office, either in person within eight months of the law being passed or within six months if you are sending it by registered delivery.

How will the size of the fine be calculated?
The amount homeowners will have to pay is dependent on the size of the area in question (there are three categories: less than 25 square meters, between 25 and 75 square meters and larger than 75 square meters); whether the property is a main residence or a holiday home; whether it has been built within the town plan; and the zone prices ("times zonis") in the area where the property is located. For example, for a 25-square-meter area in a main residence within the town plan, where the zone price is 1,100 euros per square meter, a homeowner would have to pay a fee of 1,375 euros.

Will homeowners have to pay an advance on their penalty?
Upon submission of the paperwork, citizens will have to pay 250 euros for each semi-open space and 350 euros for each of the other areas whose use has changed. The money has to be paid at their local tax office, which will issue them with a special receipt ("paravolo"). This amount will in due course be deducted from the total fine.

When will the remainder of the fine have to be paid?
According to the legislation, the town-planning office will have to conduct its checks within 60 days of the homeowner submitting his or her paperwork The property owner will then be informed in writing about the size of the fine or whether any more documents are required.

How will the remainder of the fine be paid?
On receiving notification of the final amount, homeowners will have the option of paying whatever is outstanding in one go. In this case, they will receive a 10 percent discount. Otherwise, he or she can pay in six equal increments over 18 months. No discount will apply in this case.

What documentation will homeowners receive to prove that they have paid their fine?
Once the penalty has been paid, citizens can take their receipt to the town-planning office where their original application will be stamped. This paperwork will be proof that the area in question is not subject to any further action for the next 40 years.

What will happen to the money paid in penalties by homeowners?
Unlike the previous government's plans, PASOK says it will use the money raised for projects that improve the life of city residents, such as the appropriation of land to create more open spaces, the promotion of urban regeneration projects, the purchase and restoration of significant buildings and the funding of the demolition of illegal constructions.

How will these projects be funded?
The penalty money will be deposited in a central fund, known as ETERPS, and then in another account, known as the Green Fund. Municipalities and other public bodies interested in using any of the money for projects will have to submit their proposals to the Green Fund. Municipalities will only be able to use the money paid by homeowners in their area.