June 2008 - Important Greek Government Announcement Regarding Compulsory Registration of Property Ownership with Ktimatologio AE! Now we are in 2009 Check Your Lawyer who handled your property purchase that you have been registered. The Greece - Ktimatologio Project (National Cadastre) is also discussed in the Brits in Crete.Co.Uk Forum.
Attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece, LL.M.
Specialist in International and Business Law
Introduction to Ktimatologio AE (roughly means in Greek - the "New Land Registry " organisation).
Brits in Crete has invited Mr Iliopoulos to contribute useful articles on various aspects of property and the law in Greece. In this article, advice is given to British, Irish and other ex-patriates to ensure your property is not lost because of oversight.
Background: Greece is the only country in the EU not to have a computerized national property landbank. That is now being put right in the Ktimatologio project. On Crete, the Municipality of Aghios Nikolaos, Lasithi was the first to be introduced to the new land registry, or cadastral administration process in the late 1990s. Due to initial practical problems and misuse of the EU funds that backed this nationwide project, it has been slow going. The main regional office for Crete is located in Heraklion, which is the issuing office for documentation. At a local level in Elounda (for Aghios Nikolaos), for example an office is opened one day a week where property owners can submit deeds as well as make requests for supporting documents needed by lawyers, architects and other government agencies. Other municipalities also are gradually opening local contact offices. In practice, if you buy a property and the Ktimatologio has started the registration process in that area the seller has to provide as one of the necessary documents a declaration from the Ktimatologio that the property is legally registered in the seller(s) name and that the title is free and clear and there are no encumbrances. Notary Publics and Lawyers know how to obtain the necessary documents. But sellers and buyers alike should always ask about the Ktimatologio regulations. You also can apply for necessary paperwork as a seller directly if your property is already registered as long as you have the original receipt from the time of registering of deeds with the Ktimatologio office. To obtain the documents requires 7-14 days of processing.
The Ktimatologio is a modern and better organized "Hypothykophylakion", or public registry for titles of all kinds of immovable property in Greece.
The Ktimatologio office is a data base of legal and technical information and descriptions for the accurate assessment of real estate property in Greece. The Ktimatologion 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 Ktimatologio registrations.
Not every place in Greece has a Ktimatologio office yet. In fact, most towns and villages in Greece still have their Hypothykophylakion, which is the old public registry, an office which despite its shortcomings has ensured and continues to ensure everybody’s rights over immovable property.
However, there are many Ktimatologio offices around Greece and they multiply by time. As a first step, the Ktimatologio office operates along side the Hypothykophylakion in the same area. There are places, though, in Greece, where the Ktimatologion has been organized up to its final stage (like in Chalkida, or some places in the greater Athens area). In those areas, every transaction, sale, acquisition, mortgage etc. over real estate is registered only in the Ktimatologio and not in the Hypothykophylakion of the area.
"You may discover that your property has been registered as the .... 'property of unknown owner' [or] under the name of ..... 'another person' ...."
Any title search done by a lawyer for this area is done at the Hypothykophylakion for the past and up to now and at the Ktimatologio for the period from the time it started operating and in the future. In the areas where the Ktimatologio is fully operative it is deemed that all pieces of real estate of all natural and legal persons within the limits of that particular Ktimatologio are already registered. In theory, all real estate owners of that area have already declared and registered their property with the local Ktimatologio.
In reality, however, there are thousands of pieces of real estate (lands, lots, apartments/condominiums, houses, undivided properties, inheritances, etc.) which have not been registered with the new Ktimatologio.
Now, the situation regarding those undeclared properties can be either that nobody has declared them so far, or that trespassers have declared them as being their own property (worst case scenario). Those transgressors 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 Ktimatologio.
So, the real danger is in those cases where the so called “first registrations” in Ktimatologion have been completed. If you are owner of property in an area where the Ktimatologio first registrations are operational, and you have not yet registered your rights, you may discover that your property has been registered as “property of unknown owner”.
In this case, you have the right to file a lawsuit action in the courts, technically against the Organization of Ktimatologion, in order to prove that the property in question is rightfully yours and that it should be registered with Ktimatologio under your name. In such a case the Organization of Ktimatologion is not really your adversary, but you file this lawsuit in order to register your property, even belatedly.
If, on the other hand, you discover that your property has been registered in the new Ktimatologio of the area under the name of another person (private person or legal entity), your lawsuit must be filed against and served to that person, so that, again, you prove before the court that the particular piece of real estate is yours and not theirs.
In both cases the time limit to file the lawsuit action is five (5) years from the time that the Ktimatologion office has started its full and exclusive operation in the area. If your residence is outside Greece, then this time limit is seven (7) years.
If the time limits pass without you filing the proper lawsuit, then you automatically lose your property rights over the immovable property and you only retain the right to claim fiscal compensation for the real estate you lost for good.
Christos ILIOPOULOS, Attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece, LL.M.
Useful Link to the Cadastre administration: Ktimatologio AE Organisation - National Greek website - English Section.
More information about opening hours of Ktimatologio AE offices
Read the Second Article in the series by Mr Iliopoulos:
When Foreign Residents Need to Pay the Greek Tax Man