Property Legalization Law Guide.

How to legalize a property in Crete, Greece? Which is the process to legalize a residential building? This comprehensive guide is designed to assist property owners in Chania, Greece, navigate the legal intricacies of property legalization.

How to Legalize a Property in Crete (Greece)?

Whether you’re a local resident or a foreign investor, understanding the legal requirements and procedures for property legalization is crucial for ensuring compliance with Greek law and safeguarding your property rights.

By arming yourself with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the complexities of property legalization in Chania and protect your investment for years to come. Let’s dive in!

Read the latest property buying tips, guides & advice from ARENCORES and Chania Real Estate.The ultimate source of information to buying your first property in Chania, Crete, Greece.

In this guide, we’ll provide you with valuable information on the legalization process, including key regulations, documentation requirements, and steps to follow.

From navigating bureaucratic hurdles to securing necessary documentation, our aim is to empower you with the knowledge and resources needed to protect your property rights and investment interests.

Maria Gkika - Senior Civil Engineer at ARENCOS
Maria Gkika - Senior Civil Engineer at ARENCOS


As a seasoned engineer residing in Greece, I am frequently approached by property owners and investors seeking guidance on navigating the intricacies of Greek property laws, codes, taxes, and legalization regulations.

In my capacity as the proprietor of ARENCORES, a distinguished real estate services firm, and the founder of ARENCOS, an Architecture and Engineering Consultancy Services firm, I offer comprehensive consultancy services to clients worldwide.

From conceptualization to construction and property management, I provide expertise in ensuring compliance with Greece’s evolving property legislation, including the imperative aspect of property legalization.

This article delves into the essence of illegal properties, elucidating the associated penalties, declaration procedures, and strategies for establishing property legality in adherence to Greek law. It is imperative to recognize that mere payment of property tax or rates does not suffice in rectifying structural irregularities. Thus, the information presented herein is of utmost importance for those seeking to align their properties with the latest Building Legality Laws.

Demystifying Property Legalization Law.

What buildings fall under the scope of the Greek property legalization law? What are the steps involved in the legalization process? Many property owners in Chania may find themselves uncertain about the status of their property and the procedures for legalization.

The pervasive presence of unauthorized building works in Greece, spanning from opulent villas to modest residential properties, underscores a pressing concern. In Chania, the extent of illegal structures, known as “Afthaireta,” remains uncertain, representing a longstanding issue that transcends generations. The paradox of legally owned properties being deemed ‘illegal’ prompts a critical examination of Greek property laws. This discourse aims to shed light on the definitions of ‘illegal structures’ and ‘property legalization,’ with a particular focus on Chania’s predicament and ARENCORES’ role in facilitating compliance.

This revision aims to provide a more engaging and descriptive introduction, setting the stage for a comprehensive exploration of the topic at hand.

Navigating the Property Legalization Law

Estimating the precise number of illegal structures in Chania proves to be an elusive task, reflecting the historical disregard for planning laws. Instances abound where property owners have erected dwellings exceeding approved dimensions, exemplified by constructing 160 square meter houses on permits granted for 100 square meters.

Such deviations from planning permissions and topographical plans render properties legally dubious. In response, retrospective planning permissions, known as property legalization, are granted to rectify these irregularities.

Operating a business within a structurally compromised building poses substantial risks, with the inability to procure a business permit and the looming threat of property seizure being chief among them.

Notably, Chania’s illegal structures typically lack registration with the cadastral office or land register, depriving them of access to communal utilities such as water and electricity. While a grace period for compliance remains, prudent property owners are urged to conduct a comprehensive ‘legal check.’ Regardless of immediate sales considerations, safeguarding one’s investment warrants proactive measures. Engaging a certified engineer for on-site inspections proves instrumental in verifying compliance with issued permits and fulfilling the criteria outlined in property legalization laws.

Understanding Illegal Structures and Property Legalization.

The term "illegal structure" as defined by Greek statute encompasses all constructions erected without proper planning permission from the Town planning authorities. This includes structures such as storage rooms, garages, conservatories, or outbuildings that deviate from the approved architectural drawings and diagrams specified in the building permit.

Additionally, “unauthorized use” refers to spaces utilized in a manner inconsistent with the purpose declared in the approved plans. For instance, a space designated as underground storage in the permit cannot be legally used as a dwelling.

Since September 21, 2011, property owners have borne the responsibility for the legality of their properties, necessitating a declaration of any irregularities and the provision of a “Legality Certificate” for ownership transfers. This standard ensures legal and planning security in property transactions, elucidating the “as-built status” of structures.

The irregularity declaration process entails a thorough examination, including surveys of existing buildings, verification of topographical legality, assessment of plot boundaries, and scrutiny of building coverage. Moreover, it encompasses the evaluation of existing site contours, floor plans, outdoor living spaces, and heritage items, among other factors.

Property owners must acknowledge the significant disparity between constructed structures and their documentation in building permits, certifications, and deeds. The prevalence of illegal structures in Chania reflects a historical neglect of planning laws. Common irregularities in Chania’s properties include closed spaces, extensions, enclosed balconies, and converted basements or garages, often without proper reporting in building permit plans.

Owners of illegally converted spaces face potential civil and criminal penalties, as occupants of such structures are exposed to hazards like carbon monoxide poisoning and compromised safety in the event of a fire. Even landscape structures such as pergolas, fences, rainwater tanks, and swimming pools constructed without permits are considered irregularities and require legalization.

This thorough understanding of illegal structures and property legalization underscores the importance of compliance with Greek building laws, safeguarding both property owners and occupants from legal and safety risks.

Navigating Property Legalization: The Grace Period

While the compliance requirements remain largely unchanged, the enforcement of penalties has become significantly more stringent. Law 4178/2013 addresses the legalization of illegal building works or unauthorized space use dating back to 1955 up to July 28, 2011.

Property owners are mandated to declare such cases within 18 months of the law’s enactment on August 8, 2013, thereby availing themselves of a grace period for compliance. Originally set to expire on February 8, 2016, the law’s force has been extended until July 23, 2017.

Amidst this grace period, property owners are strongly advised to conduct on-site “legality inspections,” even if they have no immediate intention to transfer ownership. Engaging a certified expert from ARENCORES ensures a thorough assessment of property structures’ compliance with relevant building and planning permits.

It is essential to note that, according to property legalization laws, only certified architects and engineers registered with the Technical Chamber of Greece are authorized to manage, complete, and issue the Legalizing Declaration and the Legality Certificate.

In cases where obtaining required documentation poses challenges, such as building permits, ownership deeds, or land registry certificates, ARENCORES can assist in obtaining certified copies from relevant authorities, including the Property Registration Authority, Town Planning offices, and Municipalities, on behalf of property owners.

Addressing Chania's Illegal Structures: Property Declaration

Under the property legalization law, a crucial stipulation emerges: no property transaction can proceed without a legality certificate issued by an engineer, affirming the accuracy of the property plans.

The property declaration process entails two vital components: the declaration of irregularities and the payment of fines for any illegal structures present. The fine assessment takes into account factors such as the size and age of the unauthorized constructions. Property owners have several options for fine payment, allowing flexibility to suit their financial circumstances:

  1. Full Payment: Property owners can opt to pay the entire fine amount upfront and receive a generous 20% discount on the total fine.
  2. Partial Payment with Installments: Alternatively, property owners may choose to pay a 30% deposit upfront and receive a 10% discount on the remaining balance. The remaining amount can then be paid in monthly installments.
  3. Interest-Free Installments: Property owners also have the option to pay the fine in interest-free monthly or six-month installments, providing further flexibility in managing their financial obligations.

By delineating these payment options, the property legalization law aims to facilitate compliance while offering feasible avenues for property owners to address irregularities in a manner that suits their financial capabilities.

Can I bypass the Property Legalization Process?

Avoiding property legalization is not advisable, as it carries significant legal and financial consequences. The Declaration and Legality Certificate are essential documents for any property transaction, including sales, rentals, or transfers to family members. Notaries require these certificates as mandatory attachments in all property transfer contracts.

Proceeding with a sale or transfer without the Legality Certificate can result in severe penalties, including fines ranging from €30,000 to €100,000 and a potential six-month prison sentence. It’s important to note that this enforcement is not merely a means for the Greek Government to collect property taxes but rather a critical step in ensuring compliance with property laws and regulations.

Furthermore, the upcoming implementation of the Electronic Building ID Code platform will revolutionize the Greek real estate market. This platform will digitally monitor and interconnect all property-related information with public bodies such as the Ministry of Finance, the Hellenic Cadastre, and the Public Power Corporation.

Compliance with legally issued permits or property legalization will be imperative for participation in this new system. Therefore, avoiding property legalization not only risks legal penalties but also exclusion from future developments in the real estate market.

Property Legalization Law Guide
Understanding Laws and Consequences



Property Legalization Law Advice

Explore the process of legalizing your property or delve into inquiries regarding Greek property legalization laws by visiting or reaching out to the esteemed ARENCOS engineering and consultancy team.

In navigating property transactions in Chania, Crete, seek guidance from a panel of experts including estate agents, conveyancers, tax consultants, and property management specialists. Our network extends to skilled lawyer associates, offering expert legal services in commercial, residential, and administrative matters to both Greek and international clientele.

Find us at 66, Apokoronou Street, 73135, Chania, Crete, with office hours from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. To schedule an appointment or address any inquiries, connect with Maria Gkika, Civil Engineer in Building Construction, at +30 2821112777 or via email at

For comprehensive information and assistance, reach out to the dedicated team at ARENCORES.

Everything you need to know about the property transaction and home buying process in Chania, Crete.

Whether you’re looking for a detached house, a city center apartment or an office space, our guide will take you through all the required stages, from choosing a property which has the right usage classification to the finer points of the property transaction contracts and completion.
A Comprehensive Guide by ARENCORES, Tailored for Property Buyers and Investors Delving into the Chania Real Estate Market.
Greek Real Estate Data Sources and Research (REDS)
REDS - Real Estate Data Sources and Information for the Greek Real Estate Sector by ARENCORES, Chania Real Estate Experts.

Finding a Professional Real Estate Team in Chania, Crete.

At ARENCORES, we meticulously select target references by identifying serious and trustworthy potential buyers for your property. We enhance the commercial appeal of our listings through dedicated research and services, including property documentation reports and targeted marketing strategies.

With years of experience in Chania’s real estate market, ARENCORES has achieved a high level of specialization and professionalism, aimed at expanding and significantly improving our range of services.

Our goal is to establish trust-based relationships with our clients by offering our expertise and utilizing all our resources to ensure a successful transaction within a short timeframe.

Located at 66 Apokoronou Street, 73135, Chania, Crete, our office operates from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For inquiries or to schedule an appointment, contact our team at +30 2821112777 or email us at

Find a professional real estate team in Chania, Crete

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