Land in any area being zoned is usually redistributed to the rights holders in that area in accordance with the principle of compulsory land readjustment. Sometimes this redistribution is done by allocating the rights holders shares in the zoned area.
Through compulsory land readjustment, the rights holders within the area being zoned receive plots of land that are prepared for construction as a form of compensation for the loss of their original properties. These new plots of land are often not in the original locations of those rights holders’ former properties and are distributed after deducting as much as 40 percent of the surface area of the plots. Compulsory distribution as a principle is mentioned in most planning, zoning, and expropriation laws in Syria, the latest of which was the Planning and Urban Development Law, also known as Law No. 23 of 2015.
Meanwhile, Decree No. 66 of 2012 (which allowed for the creation of two new zoned areas within the general plan for Damascus) and Law No. 10 of 2018 (which allowed the establishment of one or more zoned area within the general zoning plans of administrative units) introduced new rules for land readjustment. Under Decree No. 66 and Law No. 10, the land within one of these zoned areas is redistributed to the rights holders via shares. Real estate properties in this instance have the status of shares owned commonly between the rights holders in a given zoned area. A share owner has three options if they wish to dispose of their share: converting their shares into a plot of land, selling their shares in a public auction, or joining other right holders in forming a joint stock company.
On the other hand, compulsory land readjustment grants property owners the right to dispose of their real estate properties during the zoning period, i.e. when a certain area is being zoned. That right is only restricted during preparation of the charts for distributing the compensatory plots of land as part of the land readjustment process. The owners may then dispose of these new plots of land only after registering the properties in their names within the land registry, following the publication of the final distribution charts. That being said, Decree No. 66 prohibits all forms of property trading once the zoned area has been announced. In this case, owners of shares may trade them only after one year has passed since they were allocated the shares.
Decree No. 66 and Law No. 10 specify which rights holders may receive shares. An owner who was occupying their real estate property before the announcement of the zoned area may obtain a share, as well apply for alternative housing (which they must pay for). However, an owner who has not been living on their property may only obtain shares, without having the option for alternative housing. And as for occupants who did not own the property they lived in, they may apply for alternative housing, which again they must pay for. Ownership in these cases is considered the possession of a title deed issued by the Directorate of Cadastral Affairs.