Sat 31 Oct 2020

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Unfinished properties for housing associations in Idlib… How can shareholders protect their ownership rights?

A damaged building due to the bombing in Idlib city - 14 July 2020 (Enab Baladi - Anas al-Khouli)

A damaged building due to the bombing in Idlib city - 14 July 2020 (Enab Baladi - Anas al-Khouli)

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Wishing to own an apartment in four – or five-year installments, 60 years old Abdul Razzaq al-Masri, a resident from Binnish city in the eastern Idlib countryside, registered his name in a housing association in 2007 in Idlib’s city center. Al-Masri paid installments totaling 200,000 Turkish liras, equivalent to 4,200 US dollars at that time.

Al-Masri told Enab Baladi that the land on which the association was to be built was never purchased because of the absence of the association’s board members, as two of them traveled outside Syria, with the shareholders’ money, while the third member has died.

He also pointed out that there was no proof of his contribution to the housing association called the “Al-Thawrah Cooperative Housing Association” except for the member’s “payment book,” which he still keeps till today along with the association’s payment receipts.

To date, the housing association still owes the shareholders their real rights in return for payments made by them.

The bodies of the cooperative housing sector are a branch of the cooperative sector, which aims to improve and promote its members’ economic and social levels by providing land, building houses and their utilities, and selling them to the members at a cost rate, according to Article “2” of the Legislative Decree No. “36” of 2014.

The housing association is established by at least 100 individuals who agree among themselves and sign a contract for this purpose.

The certificate of incorporation should include the name of the association, its operating area, and purpose, besides the founders’ names, details of their identities, and their place of residence.

The General Union for Housing Cooperation may propose to the Ministry of Housing and Reconstruction an increase in the minimum number of founders and founding capital, in accordance with Article “7” of the decree.

The ministry maintains a real estate registration record for the associations and forms a temporary committee composed of three members elected by the founders, who are responsible jointly and severally liable for the value of the sums collected up to the date of the association’s registry or returning the sums to the owners if the association was not registered for whatever reason.

It is not permissible for any of the incorporation applicants to withdraw before completing the registration procedures, its refusal, or the end of the deadline for appealing the rejection decision or the issuance of a final rule in its regard.

Article 11 of the same Legislative Decree No. “36” stipulates that the papers, documents, records, books, and seals of the cooperative housing sector are considered as the official papers, documents, books, and seals.

In the same year, al-Masri bought his friend’s subscription number, which determines his role in receiving the apartment and its location from another association in the city center, which al-Masri could not name.

Al-Masri paid about 1 million Syrian pounds, equivalent to 20,000 US dollars at the time.

The new apartment needed cladding and a ceiling and was planned to be fully built when the shareholders finish paying their installments to the association.

After 2011, some shareholders in the association completed building and cladding their apartments and lived in them.

However, al-Masri is not sure about the possibility of proving his ownership of the apartment, especially after he left Idlib and lived outside Syria.

As for the association shareholders who have not completed the construction of their apartments, they have the right to form a board to follow up the association’s work and appoint an accountant to withdraw funds from shareholders and spend them on the project under the supervision of the board, because the land has been bought from their money, according to the member of the “Syrian Jurists’ Authority,” lawyer Fahad al-Qadi.

The land and its structure are considered the property of all subscribers; therefore, they are entitled to complete the building project after forming the board. After completing the project, each contributor takes its apartment after paying the board all the entitled amount.

Nonetheless, these measures must be preceded by a warning notice from the shareholders to the management of the association that has stopped working, and this warning notification is to be made by the notary, according to al-Qadi.

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