Serbia: High expectations about the new Law on Legalization of Buildings

Real Estate

Ivan Gazdić

Publisher: Bojović & Partners

After several attempts to regulate the issue of legalization of buildings built without permits, which failed to achieve any significant result, the new Law on Legalization of Objects (Official Gazette of RS, no. 96/2015) (“Law”) has been adopted and came into force on 27 November 2015. The Law regulates requirements, procedure and manner of legalization of facilities built without construction permit and legal consequences of legalization. For the facilities being used without occupancy permit, the respective permit is to be obtained in regular procedure in accordance with the law governing construction of objects. Exceptionally, in case only a construction permit has been issued within previously initiated legalization procedure, but no occupancy permit, the competent authority will issue a decision on legalization, without performing the procedure prescribed under the Law. 

The legalization procedure can be performed only for the facilities for which the evidence on suitable right on the construction land or the facility exists, whereas the Law stipulates in a detailed manner which documents may be deemed as evidence on the respective rights. Generally, the Law stipulates that the subject-matter of legalization cannot be facilities built in protected zones in accordance with special laws, facilities built of materials which do not provide guarantee of stability of the facility, facility built on the land not being suitable for construction, facilities that cannot be harmonized with the applicable planning documents, as well as the facilities which are not completed (i.e. fully constructed). The facilities for which an earlier request for legalization has already been denied cannot again be subject-matter of legalization. 

As the main reason why the legalization procedures, which had been initiated in accordance with the previously applicable laws, have not been finished the fact that earlier procedures were too complicated and expensive is often quoted. In order to overcome such obstacles, the Law prescribes the legalization fee in the fixed amount which is to be determined on the basis of criteria such as nature of the facilities (commercial or residential) and their surface-area, whereas the whole procedure is now much more simplified. However, the aforementioned “simplification” of procedure has been disputed by the Constitutional Court in the past with regards to the previously applicable Law on Planning and Construction. Namely, the main remark of the Constitutional Court in 2013 was that through such simplification of the procedure for obtaining the construction and occupancy permit for the buildings built without permits, those who unlawfully built their facilities are put in a more favourable position than those who built the facilities in accordance with regulations governing construction. For the facilities for which legalization requests have not been submitted by 29 December 2014, a construction inspector will make a list of such facilities and will subsequently issue a decision on their demolition. The respective decision will then be delivered to the legalization authority which will ex officio initiate the legalization procedure, so the respective decision will not be enforceable until final completion of the legalization procedure. Therefore, the legalization procedure envisaged by the Law will apply to facilities for which legalization requests have been submitted by 29 December 2014 in accordance with previously applicable laws, as well as to the facilities to which the ownership right has been registered in accordance with the previously applicable Law on Special Conditions for Registration of Ownership Right on Objects Built without Construction Permit. Subject-matter of legalization will also be the facilities for which legalization request have not been submitted in accordance with previously applicable laws, provided, however, that such facilities are visible on a satellite footage of the Republic of Serbia from the year 2015. 

In the case that legalization request for a facility is rejected or denied, such facility will be demolished.