Monday, October 19, 2015

Delayed Land Register (Cadastre) A "National Shame"?

In my previous article, I voiced optimism that cadastral registration in Greece was well under way. This was based on an experience my wife is having with the inheritance of some fields in the Kavala region.

The Ekathimerini today published an article titled "Typically Greek, delayed land register is never-ending epic" which kills any optimism one might have on the subject. To kick it off in the right spirits, the authors state that, 5 years ago, Greece and Albania were the only two European countries lacking a computerized register of land ownership and usage. And now Greece is the only one, they say. Speaking of adding insult to injury...

The authors call the issue "a microcosm of everything that remains to be fixed in the country - bureaucracy, political patronage, competing layers of government, legal complexity, fiscal uncertainty, vested interests, cheating, tax evasion and opaque relations between the two biggest landowners - the state and the church". That sort of wraps it up nicely, doesn't it?

In a hilarious example of things having been turned upside down, the authors report that Greece even boasts a union of illegal house owners on Crete which allegedly represents some 45.000 illegal home owners on the island. The union, of course, wants to have these homes legalized. And free of charge, of course.

Former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou explains why the process of computerizing land registry is so slow (allegedly it started off back in 1995): "Clearly, if you're an illegal owner in Greece, you don't want this cadastre project ever to be finished."

This clearly is an issue where a foreigner will never understand why things are done in a certain way in Greece but I am sure that there are very convincing explanations as to why things are done that way in Greece. Nevertheless, a foreigner is likely to feel that legal certainty about property rights and land usage are key ingredients of a state of law. As the article states:

"Experts from European Union and International Monetary Fund identified the lack of legal certainty about property rights and land usage as a major barrier to investment, proper taxation and economic development." That sort of wraps it up nicely, doesn't it?


  1. You will be surprised, as was I, that the in the UK after about 90 years of trying, there is no full computerised record of land ownership either.

    So if the UK were ever to start taxing land, it would have the same difficulties as Greece.

    Any landowners will try to frustrate the registration process, which was the case in the UK, too.

    Of course the UK does not tax land, EU and UMF are quiet about the UK.

  2. Holly smokes.

    45,000 illegal home owners? How many people/voters live in this island? Who they voted for and who they were voting for all the PASOK years?

    Of course the perifana kritikatsa voted NO in the referendum.

    We are proud, we are plenty, we are Greeks.