Real Estate

Croatia: Easier Legalisation for Buildings Built without a Permit

The strict 2011 legislation on legalisation of buildings built without a permit was amended in 20121. The aim was to enlarge the number of legalisation requests and to simplify, economise and expedite the legalisation of an estimated 90% of all buildings in Croatia.

Why legalise buildings?

Gen­er­al­ly2, ille­gal­ly built build­ings are those built, ful­ly or par­tial­ly, with­out an ade­quate build­ing per­mit or con­trary (eg, in excess) to the build­ing per­mit and reg­is­tered on the dig­i­tal map of the Croa­t­ian cadas­tral office of 21 June 2011, or anoth­er offi­cial map. They are at high risk of being removed by order, with the own­er bear­ing all costs. If a busi­ness oper­ates in an ille­gal­ly built build­ing, no busi­ness per­mit can be obtained and there is a high risk of seizure. Ille­gal­ly built build­ings can­not typ­i­cal­ly be reg­is­tered with the cadas­tral office or the land reg­is­ter. Fur­ther, no con­nec­tion to com­mu­nal util­i­ties (water, elec­tric­i­ty, sew­er, etc.) is grant­ed. These are just some of the risks of ille­gal­ly built objects.

Although these risks also exist­ed before 2012 leg­is­la­tion3, in the past ille­gal­ly built build­ings were removed only occa­sion­al­ly. How­ev­er, this should change as of 30 June 20134, when the dead­line for sub­mis­sion of legal­i­sa­tion requests expires. Because the Croa­t­ian gov­ern­ment is deter­mined to bring dis­ci­pline to con­struc­tion, to improve Croatia’s land­scape, and to ensure dis­ci­pline in pay­ing com­mu­nal and relat­ed fees, after the 30 June 2013 all build­ings with­out ade­quate per­mits will be removed. This deter­mi­na­tion of the state is already vis­i­ble in issuance of removal orders for all ille­gal­ly built build­ings that do not sat­is­fy the basic cri­te­ria for legal­i­sa­tion (ie, build­ings built ille­gal­ly after 21 June 2012)5.

Legalisation procedure – broadening the number of objects fit for legalisation and aiming at a swifter, less expensive procedure

Few legal­i­sa­tion requests were sub­mit­ted on the basis of the 2011 legal­i­sa­tion leg­is­la­tion, and dif­fi­cul­ties were detect­ed in the pro­ce­dures. So the 2012 legal­i­sa­tion leg­is­la­tion broad­ened the scope of ille­gal­ly built objects fit for legal­i­sa­tion, sim­pli­fied the required doc­u­men­ta­tion for legal­i­sa­tion, reduced the involve­ment of experts (archi­tects, geome­ters, etc), low­ered fees and com­pen­sa­tion, and enabled instal­ment pay­ments. These changes should result in more legal­i­sa­tion requests, swifter pro­ce­dures, more approved legal­i­sa­tions and a low­er eco­nom­ic bur­den for own­ers. Many ille­gal­ly built build­ings are res­i­den­tial hous­es, week­end hous­es, space for small busi­ness­es (eg, agri­cul­ture, farm­ing) and the like, financed by fam­i­lies from their sav­ings and built over a num­ber of years.

Per­mits obtained on the basis of the legal­i­sa­tion pro­ce­dure will be proof that a per­mit cor­re­spond­ing to the build­ing and usage per­mit has been obtained, and the build­ing is thus legal.

Legalisation in practice

Accord­ing to the experts, the new 2012 legal­i­sa­tion mech­a­nism clar­i­fied pre­vi­ous­ly unclear and con­tro­ver­sial reg­u­la­tions harm­ing the whole real estate mar­ket. It should enable the desired goal of the legal­i­sa­tion leg­is­la­tion: more and eas­i­er legal­i­sa­tion of already ille­gal­ly built objects and dis­ci­pline in future con­struc­tion.

Based on unofficial data, the 2012 legislation mechanism is already showing positive results. Whether this trend continues is yet to be seen, especially as the expiry of the 30 June 2013 deadline nears.

Act on Pro­ce­dures with Ille­gal­ly Built Build­ings (Zakon o pos­tu­pan­ju s neza­koni­to izgrađen­im zgradama, Offi­cial Gazette of the Repub­lic of Croa­t­ia No. 862012 of 27 July 2012).
Cer­tain build­ings are by law deemed to have been built on the basis of a build­ing and usage per­mit (eg, build­ings built pri­or to 15 Feb­ru­ary 1968).
The 2012 leg­is­la­tion did not adopt the very strict 2011 leg­is­la­tion pre­scrib­ing that acquisition/disposal of ille­gal­ly built build­ings is null and void.
The dead­line for sub­mis­sion of legal­i­sa­tion requests under the 2011 leg­is­la­tion was 31 Decem­ber 2012. This dead­line still stands for ille­gal­ly built objects for which a removal order is issued and pend­ing.
Not all ille­gal­ly built build­ings may be legalised. Legal­i­sa­tion means that ade­quate permit(s) may be issued if (i) the legal­i­sa­tion request is sub­mit­ted by 30 June 2013, (ii) all pre­con­di­tions are ful­filled, (iii) all required doc­u­ments are sub­mit­ted with the request, and (iv) all required fees are paid. It will pri­mar­i­ly be the task of the engaged expert (in most cas­es, licenced archi­tect), even­tu­al­ly sup­port­ed by oth­er licenced experts (eg, geome­ter, con­struc­tor), to deter­mine whether all pre­con­di­tions are ful­filled and a legal­i­sa­tion pro­ce­dure is per­mis­si­ble, and to pro­vide required doc­u­men­ta­tion.

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schoenherr attorneys at law /