Friday, June 5, 2015

Cadastral Registration In Greece

My understanding is that the completion of the cadastral registration in Greece started in early 2014. More than 60% of the territory still has to be surveyed and the project should be completed by 2020. Almost 400 people are said to be working on that and the cost is expected to be around 1 BEUR.

To put this into perspective, I researched how cadastral registration was done in Austria.

The law for cadastral registration goes back to 1817 and it took 46 years to survey the entire area of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (100% completion). In total, the result was recorded on 164.375 individual maps.

Well, the territory of Greece is quite a bit smaller than the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy of then and we now have IT, but it seems to me that this staff of 400 has quite a job ahead of itself if it is to complete the project by 2020.


  1. Richard Bourke has left a new comment:

    can they not reuse, at least partially, the maps from the many previous attempts to create a Greek Cadastre? They started trying to make one shortly after the state became independent, I believe.

    I'm being ingenuous. They won't finish, just like all the earlier attempts. Greece doesn't have a Cadastre, because it's in the interests of the many lawyers who specialise in this area, to not have one. And it's in the interests of the many greeks who own land with their "title" accredited by notarial statements, rather than an entry in a Cadastre.

    As in so many other areas of greek governance. The opacity has benefits for the well-connected, and those who are not well-connected can be safely ignored.

    And this status quo is then defended in the name of "solidarity"

    1. Stathis Kalyvas writes in his book about 'Modern Greece' the following: "The Bavarian regency (King Otto) focused its energies on land registration but repeated attempts to implement a cadastral survey failed due to the lack of funds and technical expertise".

  2. I like this video.

    Who do you think won ? Adonis or the students ?

  3. I think this time they will finish the registry. The pressure to get things working is colossal and there are several sacred cows that have been slaughtered, just not of the obvious kind. Two of the most important clandestine reforms of late: the reporting requirements for companies have been greatly simplified and got much cheaper (with the added bonus that it damaged politically various local potentates that survived on the money collected from forcing companies to pay to publish their balance sheets in their minor local newspapers) and the Cour des comptes will not be required to audit EC regulations, a major step forward and a very brave confrontation with the judges. So reform is moving forward of late and the registry will probably be finished on time, as it is necessary in order to collect taxes efficiently.

  4. My understanding was that this was paid by EU funds many years ago and that the money have been used several years ago.

  5. In Greece exists since 1853 a Land Register for the registration of contracts of sales that provide titles to property rights. This old fashioned Land Register originally was only admissible with the name of the buyer and seller. In the contract the boundaries of plots of land were identified by an address and a description in words. A Cadastre that should add identification to plots of land was missing.
    The EU decided to subsidize the implementing of a Greek Cadastre. It should be digital and have unique identifications to plots of land. In my opinion many of the problems are caused by the Greek law to introduce a Cadastre.

    Many EU countries have both a Cadastre and a Land Register. In the Land Registers (decisive under civil law) general descriptions of boundaries in words are published. Cadastres are mainly used for raising taxes and are based on spatial data of presumed boundaries. In British common law countries Land Registries exists with general descriptions of boundaries in words. In case of a boundary dispute these general/presumed boundaries help solving the dispute, but are not decisive. Neighbors can agree on a boundary as long as it is not in conflict with the general description in a registered contract in the Land Register. If they cannot reach an agreement, owners can ask the court to decide on the exact location of a civil law boundary. This system is esteemed the cheapest because of the economies of a surveying process. The benefits of this process should exceed the costs of a limited number of boundary disputes.

    The Greek law did choose a complete different approach. A new Cadastre annex Land Register should provide conclusive evidence of as well the titles as the civil law boundaries. This strong juridical meaning makes a complicated process inevitable. Property rights are fundamental human rights and pursuant to judgments of the European Court on Human Rights (see the Pye case) European countries have to protect these rights . It means that when Greece decided to start a decisive registration of property rights and boundaries from scratch, a complex and time consuming process to protect existing property rights was demanded. Greece developed such a process. Everybody has the possibility to claim property rights. Supporting documents for these claims have to be submitted to and are studied by the Cadastre. Decisions based on these submissions can be appealed in court. In practice often neighbors claim the same plot of land or submit invalid documents. Judging these claims takes time and is expensive.
    When Greece should have implemented a Cadastre for just raising taxes this had not been necessary. A registration of tax payers does not involve fundamental human rights. Greece could have started with collecting spatial data of presumed boundaries from aerial photographs. A second step could be sending provisional taxes assessments to presumed owners according to the existing Land Register. Persons who want to pay less taxes can complain. However in case of a fake arguments that they own a smaller plot of land, these arguments could be used against them by persons who claim a part of their land. So they will think twice before they raise false complaints against the provisional tax assessment.

    In my opinion a step by step approach is necessary for implementing a Cadastre . By starting with a simple registration of presumed titles and presumed boundaries the pitfall of complex systems to protect fundamental human rights is evaded and maximum use of ICT tools becomes possible. Later on a country could decide to further extend their system, but that should be not be paid by other EU countries.

  6. In the age of Google Earth are all these arguments ridiculous ;)