Analysis & Features
Syria’s urban planning legal system imposes complicated conditions for granting construction permits on land commonly owned by multiple owners.
The Damascus governorate’s Directorate of Planning and Urbanisation is in charge of granting special permits for reinforcement and partial reconstruction of licensed constructed buildings within zoned areas of the capital.
Syria’s Academic Delegations Law, issued by Legislative Decree No. 6 of 2013, requires any person to study abroad on an academic delegation to have a guarantor who will pay all expenses and fees incurred by the student if they fail to fulfil their obligations to the sending entity or refuse to return home to Syria.
On March 26, 2023, the Council of Ministers issued a decision to expropriate a property in Aleppo, considering it to be public property, and merged it with an adjacent one.
Real estate demolition permits have reportedly been used to pressure tenants with old, permanent rental contracts into relinquishing their rights or vacating the property.
Without a comprehensive post-earthquake plan, the Syrian government’s approach has been limited to providing tax exemptions for those affected and facilitating access to loans to finance repairs.
The Syrian state has continuously refused to recognise the existence of housing in informal settlements.
Since the earthquake, Syrian officials have discussed the need for an insurance policy for natural disasters.
Legislative Decree No. 3 of 2023 grants tax exemptions to people affected by the February 6 earthquake. Some of the exemptions are related to entirely or partially destroyed properties.
Law No. 2 of 2023 amends some parts of Investment Law No. 18 of 2021 by expanding its scope to include real estate development and investment projects that had previously been regulated by Law No. 15 of 2008.
The Directorate of Planning and Urbanisation is part of the municipal services at the Damasus governorate. It is tasked mainly with preparing and following up on the city’s general zoning draft plan. The directorate also puts in place the city’s planning and expropriation draft plans and follows up on procedures for approval.
More than a month after the February 06 earthquake, President Bashar Al-Assad issued a decree granting tax exemptions for people impacted by the disaster. Some of the measures listed in Legislative Decree No. 3 of 2023 are related to real estate that was partially or fully damaged in the earthquake, exempting owners from some current taxes and fees and temporarily from future taxes. The decree also eases the process for obtaining loans to restore damaged properties.
No law in Syria’s legislative system specifically addresses real estate damaged by natural disasters. Although some laws mention issues related to real estate damaged by natural disasters, they do not address housing, land, and property rights.
After the recent earthquake, the damage to buildings licensed under the code raises questions about the effectiveness of the Syrian Arab Code for the Design and Implementation of Reinforced Concrete Structures.
In the Syrian Arab Code for the Design and Implementation of Reinforced Concrete Structures, there is an appendix on the basic principles for earthquake-resistant building design.
The Syrian Arab Code for the Design and Implementation of Reinforced Concrete Structures is a system for buildings to meet certain safety standards. Engineers and building contractors must adhere to this code during their study and design phases and when applying for their construction permits. The Syrian Engineers Syndicate and local administrative units oversee adherence to the code during the various stages of construction.
The Ministry of Local Administration and Environment issued 14 decrees on December 6, 2022, approving 14 similar decisions by Syria’s 14 governorate councils to increase direct and indirect taxes for 2023. Real estate fees and taxes made up a large portion of these decisions.
Limitation of disposal is a provisional measure that includes placing a precautionary seizure on someone’s real estate to guarantee any financial rights owed to the state. This measure comes at the request of a public entity, usually the relevant governorate’s finance directorate or the local city council.
In the General Directorate of Cadastral Affairs, the Central Land Registry Department and the Information Department are responsible for preserving and archiving various real estate documents to organise tasks and prepare for emergencies.
From the 16th century until the end of Ottoman rule in Syria, the Sharia courts regulated the documentation for proving real estate ownership and entered them into their records. These records are still preserved in Damascus and Aleppo, and to a lesser degree in Homs and Hama, and are still used before the Sharia courts today.