One in five cities or municipalities demolishes illegally constructed objects, but only three buildings a year

Local governments in Serbia have made an average of 7,640 decisions on the demolition of illegally built houses, garages, and other facilities, but only one in five has taken a concrete step - to remove them. Cities and municipalities that decide to perform this unpleasant job, demolish only three buildings a year, according to NALED's research on legalization procedures in Serbia.

More than 40% of cities and municipalities have a defined plan to remove facilities, and the funds for that purpose, but most do not go beyond that. Consideration of the demolition of a facility is approached only after the formal completion of the legalization procedure, and the main obstacle that prevents the machines to go out on the field is the fact that no company is interested in implementing this unpopular measure. The problem is further aggravated by new illegal construction, a practice the local governments are trying to prevent.

Although it is possible to obtain an electronic building permit in a few months, illegal construction in Serbia is still flourishing. One third of the surveyed cities and municipalities estimate that one in five newly built facilities on their territory does not have an appropriate permit.

- According to our analysis, 88% of local governments say that they have a problem with earlier "wild" construction, and half of the respondents know about new cases. The main reasons for the emergence of new facilities are the high costs of obtaining permits, unresolved property issues with  poor knowledge of regulations. The paradox is that they see an increased number of construction inspectors and active demolition as solutions to stop illegal construction. In the last five years, they have demolished only between one and 45 buildings. Accelerating the legalization procedures is advocated by NALED through digitalization, simplification of procedures, shortening of deadlines for  proceedings by line services, application of the principle of the silence of the administration as a sign of consent, and even centralization of procedures, so as to relieve local governments, and this would also speed up the legalization procedures, and the demolshing would be performed only where necessary - says Dejan Vukovic, Vice President of NALED’s Property and Investments Alliance and the founder and leading partner of the law firm Vukovic and Partners.

Official data show that there are more than two million illegal buildings in Serbia. For most of them, the solution is legalization, but buildings that have illegally sprouted in a park, protected zone, landslide, or other location where construction is not allowed, demolition is the only option. However, in one in three municipalities, there are no bidders that respond to a tender for carrying out demolition, while 13% of municipalities point out that there is no money in the budget for demolition, and 11% that demolition is not within their competence.

They also emphasize the importance of new satellite images of the Republic Geodetic Authority to reduce illegal construction, because the images currently used in legalization procedures depict the situation on the ground from several years before. They see the role of the media as a key in stimulating citizens to legalize facilities in the promotional period, as well as better cooperation of institutions dealing with legalization and education.

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