The laws distinguish between three cases when considering whether to grant such permits: lands commonly owned within provincial city centres, those located in the zoning plans of local administrative units and those outside such zoning plans but located within local administrative boundaries.
These procedures often are complex and take a long time. In addition, applicants face several unfair conditions, such as giving up their right to request services on the land and requiring the consent of all the owners, which can lead to blackmail. Other issues include the expropriation of shares from commonly owned lands and the complex procedures for terminating common ownership.
Consequently, many property owners avoid applying for construction permits and sometimes build without permits, leaving their properties vulnerable to future legal problems.
Properties within provincial city centres
Building permits on commonly owned properties in these areas are subject to the provisions of Building Plot Construction Law No. 82 of 2010, its Executive Instructions No. 105 of 2010 and amendments issued in Law No. 6 of 2020. Here, those who own at least half the shares on the commonly owned property must apply to their local city council for the construction permit, alongside a request to terminate the common ownership.
Next, the local council head forms a committee tasked with terminating common ownership of the property. This committee is led by a judge appointed by the Minister of Justice. It includes a representative from the administrative authority and a first-degree representative from the Directorate of Cadastral Affairs appointed by the Minister of Local Administration. The committee informs the real estate department to which the property belongs to place a sale notice for the property in a public auction. This committee then requests the owners to agree on their application for the construction permit within five days. It prepares a report documenting the agreed-upon terms among the partners. If they agree, the committee requests them to complete the permit documents. If they disagree, the committee decides to sell the property in a public auction according to the applicable legal procedures. The committee’s decision regarding the sale is published in local and Damascus newspapers two weeks before the auction.
All decisions by the committee are subject to appeal before the Court of Appeal in the relevant governorate, according to the deadlines for appealing urgent matters, which are set at five days. The Court of Appeal issues its decision in the deliberation chamber without summoning the parties, which is final. The winning bidder in the auction must pay the price of the property and other specified fees within ten days, under penalty of the property being auctioned again. Additionally, within six months, the winning bidder must submit a construction permit request for the property, accompanied by the required legal documents and technical plans.
Properties within local administrative unit zoning plans
Construction permits in these areas are subject to the executive instructions issued by the Ministry of Local Administration Resolution No. 3921 of 2011 regarding the repealed Law No. 59 of 2008 on unlicensed buildings. However, the current Law No. 40 of 2012 on unlicensed buildings and its executive instructions do not address this particular licensing situation. Therefore, the executive instructions of Law No. 59 remain applicable in this case.
According to the executive instructions of Law No. 59, several conditions must be fulfilled. The applicant for the permit must provide the administrative unit with a document proving ownership of the portion of the communally owned property that requires licensing. This proof can be a real estate registration statement, a notarized agency agreement or a court decision. Additionally, they must submit a detailed site plan from an engineering office, authenticated by the local council or technical services office, showing the location of the land to be licensed, its surrounding properties, building boundaries, roads and other facilities. A certificate indicating the area to be licensed, issued by the mukhtars Authority and notarised, must also be provided. Finally, the applicant must also submit a document signed by the adjacent landowners and notarized, attesting to the applicant’s right to the land requiring the permit. The permit applicant must promise not to claim any compensation in case the administrative authority decides to cancel or suspend the permit in the event of a legal dispute.
The land must meet certain conditions, such as partially facing a public road and having a specified length. In addition, a designated portion of the land should be allocated for public facilities. In this case, the executive instructions do not require the submission of a request to terminate communal ownership of the property along with the permit application.
Properties outside zoning plans but located within local administrative boundaries
Construction permits in these areas are granted according to the executive instructions issued by the Ministry of Local Administration on February 28, 2012. These instructions are similar to the licensing process for commonly owned lands within zoning plans, albeit with the addition of some conditions.
For example, a permit applicant for land outside a zoning plan must submit a notarized written promise to the notary public, stating that they will not demand the administrative unit to provide public services such as roads, water, electricity and sewage. This means that the administrative entity disclaims its responsibilities for implementing the rights accrued to the permit holder. In addition, the land area must meet a specific limit as specified in that governorate’s building codes. Finally, access to the land must be ensured without any objection from the owners of the remaining shares separating it from the public road.
After these conditions are met and before granting the permit, the local administrative unit must publish the permit request in one of the governorate’s local newspapers and on its bulletin board for 30 days. This is so that people can send in objections. If there are no objections, then the permit is granted.