On August 16, 2022, Syria’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing issued Decree No. 6375, which amended Article 37 of Decree No. 8 of 2016 concerning the General Housing Establishment (GHE) Operations System. Article 37 relates to the conditions for monthly instalments for social housing by subscribers or those who have been allotted such housing.
The amended Article 37 is as follows: “If a housing subscriber, or someone who has been allotted housing, is 240 consecutive days late in paying their monthly instalments, i.e. they have failed to pay eight consecutive monthly instalments, then their subscription or allotment shall be cancelled. It is not necessary to warn or notify them. Their payments shall be returned to them after deducting administrative expenses, which amount to 10 percent of the payments.” For comparison, the original Article 37 stipulated such cancellations if payments are delayed for 240 consecutive or nonconsecutive days.
In real estate terms, allocating housing to a subscriber means that a contract has been made between the subscriber and the GHE. The contract outlines each party’s obligations and includes the location and a description of the housing unit. Allocation usually occurs after the subscriber pays 30 percent of the unit’s value. However, allocation does not necessarily mean that construction on the home is complete or the completion date is near, though it does serve as a title deed provided that the remaining financial obligations are met.
The Ministry of Public Works and Housing implements numerous social housing programmes to provide low- and medium-cost housing and sell it to citizens. The GHE’s Operations System, issued in Decree No. 8 of 2016, serves as the executive instructions for Decree No. 26 of 2015, which established the system.
Decree No. 6375 this past August eased the conditions for late payments amid the inability of many subscribers to meet their financial obligations. However, the ministry later released a contradictory decree in September stipulating higher monthly payments for youth housing programme subscribers, from SYP 8,000 to SYP 25,000.
The director of the GHE told the semi-official Al-Watan newspaper that rising construction costs were to blame for the increased prices. He added that the new prices will not affect the total value of housing provided by the programme and will help subscribers meet their 30 percent payment thresholds for allocation more quickly.
In January 2022, the GHE issued new appraised values for social housing ready for allocation. The GHE estimated the average value of prepared homes in youth and savings housing programmes at SYP 596 and SYP 385 per square metre. That means the estimated price of a 100-square-metre youth housing apartment now costs around SYP 6 million, compared with SYP 1 million in 2004. These prices appear unattainable. For example, if a subscriber’s monthly payment is SYP 25,000, it will take them 200 years to finish paying off their apartment.