Mon 21 Sep 2020

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How property transactions are registered in Idlib

A building in one of Idlib's neighborhoods - 14 July 2020 (Enab Baladi / Anas al-Khouli)

A building in one of Idlib's neighborhoods - 14 July 2020 (Enab Baladi / Anas al-Khouli)

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People’s right to dispose of their property is governed by several laws in Syria, which regulate the sale, lease, or mortgage transactions of properties. However, none of these laws are applied in the opposition factions controlled-areas, north-western Syria, as the residents of these regions continue to dispose of their houses and lands by selling or renting them to other parties.

This requires the existence of an authority to regulate such transactions to make them mandatory for the involved parties in the future, even if the Syrian regime’s government in Damascus did not recognize such authorities.

In 2015, the Syrian regime lost control of Idlib province, leaving the real-estate disposal acts outside the mandatory provisions of property laws.  These transactions were unregistered and unregulated within a government entity recognized by the regime.

Therefore, the “Syrian Salvation Government (SSG)” in Idlib province established the “real estate documentation office” affiliated to the SSG’s local administration and services ministry to work as a civil authority to document and save property transactions of houses and lands in the area.

The “real estate documentation office” has reactivated the department of “regulation of real estate offices” of the “general directorate of real estate,” in all branches of the directorate in the opposition-held regions.

These authorities were named following the SSG’s decision, and, last June, another resolution under number “263” was issued to activate the role of the “general directorate of real estate.”

The registration mechanism

In an interview with Enab Baladi, lawyer Ahmed Khabo in Idlib said that the registration mechanism for the disposition of property and land in Idlib area revolves around a set of procedures required by the “general directorate of real estate” from the property owner wishing to dispose of his/her property.

These procedures include providing the land title, which is an official document that proves a person’s ownership of a particular property (the green tabo), besides submitting the property registration record with a new extraction date, to document the owner’s name and the date and number of the ownership contract.

According to Khabo, the registration of property disposal in Idlib requires the extraction of a civil registration record or a true copy of the owner and the second party’s identity card.

In addition to a contract, in which the act of property disposition is defined, whether it was a sale, a mortgage, or a lease.

The contract is printed in five copies in the “general directorate of real estate” and saved within the directorate’s information system, in which the seller and buyer’s names, and property description (property number, location, area, and classification) are specified.

The documentation procedures require that the two parties wishing to dispose of a property should provide a document proving that they are not prohibited from such acts due to a court order for reasons of madness, or that the property was seized after a particular lawsuit. This document is issued from the office of “people prohibited from transactions” in Idlib.

A second “security clearance”

Any person wishing to dispose of his/her property is required to submit a security clearance along with the other necessary documents to prove that no party in the contract has dealings with any side of the Syrian regime, according to Khabo.

He added the “studies office in Idlib issues the clearance.”

In 2015, the Syrian regime’s government issued Circular No. 4554.

The circular includes adding transactions of sale, lease, and property transfer of houses and shops to the cases that require a prior security clearance from the relevant authorities.

This circular was considered a violation of the individual property rights provided for in the Syrian Constitution in Article 15, which affirms the right of an individual to dispose of his/her property freely and not to be confiscated.

Khabo pointed out that when all the documents required to complete the disposition of the property are provided, the two parties of the contract should head to the “real estate documentation office” that is responsible for registering property transactions in Idlib and checking all the legal and formal procedures of the contract.

Khabo added the head of the office makes sure that both parties of the contract were never subjected to coercion to enforce the contract, by hearing both parties’ acknowledgment of their obligation to implement the terms of the contract.

After that, the two sides of the contract can visit the head of Idlib’s “real estate documentation office” to record the disposal act on the property’s cadaster certificate.

The departments of the “general directorate of real estate” in Idlib

The “general directorate of real estate” in Idlib is divided into several administrative departments of the directorate, according to the region’s general manager of the directorate, Abdul Rahman Zain, in a previous interview with Enab Baladi.

These departments include the “real estate documentation office” whose task is to certify each contract between the lessor and the tenant, subject these contracts to the SSG’s decisions, inform the relevant parties of such decisions, and verify the contracts’ validity.

In addition to the “licensing and complaints receiving office” that monitors the licensing of real estate offices in the municipal councils, receives complaints from the lessor and tenant, and forms local committees to examine the property and estimates its rent in the Turkish Lira.

According to Zain, the committees also assess the damage that the tenant may cause to the property.

Part of the licensing and receiving complaints office’s tasks is to implement the regulations of the decisions on exceptions in which the lessor is entitled to evacuate the property, according to Zain.

Zain stated that if the contracts were not registered in the department of organizing real estate offices, the lessor and the tenant lose the right of protection to their property, for the contracts were concluded and not ratified by the office.

He added, in the event of a dispute between the lessor and the tenant, no authority would accept their claims except with a certified and written contract in the “general directorate of real estate.”

Zain said contracts that are not registered in the department of organizing real estate offices are a “violation” that would put the property’s owner and real estate office under liability.

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