Idlib: Financial exemptions on buildings, licenses and regulations

Hussein Zakaria breathed a sigh of relief after hearing the decision to reduce building fees in Idlib, which will allow him to obtain a license to build a room to shelter himself and his children without any fees, despite the legal obstacles related to sorting the property.

Zakaria (45 years old), who lives in al-Habat village north of Idlib, told Enab Baladi that he tried to build an additional room last year to shelter his children and provide more privacy for the family, but the police stopped him from starting the construction because he did not obtain a permit.

Zakaria added that licensing the room he wanted to build required a full license for the old house, which was impossible as the ownership of the house goes back to him and one of his brothers, and the costs of licensing were high.

After the issuance of a decision to cancel some fees, and to exempt others either fully or partially for residential and commercial buildings and facilities at the beginning of March, Zakaria can now build a room of less than 50 square meters, fully exempted from payment of fees.

Exemptions under certain conditions

On March 6, the Syrian Salvation government (SSG) operating in Idlib issued a decision regarding the fees of residential and commercial buildings and facilities, according to terms and conditions, including the cancellation of financial fees for residential buildings that are 50 square meters or less and exempting them from the preparation of engineering plans.

The owners of buildings of all types (residential, commercial, facilities) are exempted from 75% of the technical and engineering financial fees in the Ministry of Local Administration and Services, and the exemption includes license fees, regulations, violations, auditing, and others, and transactions are exempted from 90% of the value of improvements.

Hope to stimulate building activity

Local residents have complained about laws introduced by the Ministry of Local Administration affiliated with the Salvation Government in Idlib, regarding building permits and imposing fines on violators. Affected residents interviewed by Enab Baladi believe that these decisions hinder the reconstruction and building movements and decrease job opportunities.

Mohammed Hamed (41 years old), a building contractor, told Enab Baladi that licenses were costly and exhausting for those wishing to build, and did not provide any services such as securing steel or cement at a cheaper price.

He added that the high fees for licenses had negatively reflected on the building activity that declined, which caused a rise in building costs, a decrease in contracting, and fewer job opportunities.

The contractor hopes that the new decision will help stimulate the real estate market.

Joint ownership licensing

This decision is the first of its kind in terms of the reduction rate and was followed by a decision to grant licenses for properties jointly owned under certain conditions, including a court ruling and having a documented sales and purchase contract at the notary public.

Another decision was issued following the earthquake of February 6, 2023, which stipulated the exemption of specific categories of residents from fees due on rebuilding their homes, also under certain conditions.

Recently, the decision coincided with demonstrations rejecting the policies of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) faction, which has military control in Idlib, and demands to overthrow the faction’s leader, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, and release detainees and clear the prisons.

The Director of Technical Services in the Salvation Government, Mohammed Yasser Gazal, told Enab Baladi that the most important reason for issuing the decision was to allow licensing for building on properties jointly owned, after receiving numerous requests for joint ownership properties in the first place and the difficulty of their engineering division.

Gazal mentioned that the previous discount was 50%, and the recent discount rate in the decision is 75%, aiming to alleviate the burden on citizens. As for properties that are 50 square meters or less, they are exempt from all financial fees and from preparation of plans.

He explained that the decision provided for opening subsidiary windows to grant licenses in all municipalities of cities and villages in areas under the control of the Salvation Government, and the decision also stipulated the regularization of the current conditions of all buildings constructed in all areas allowed for construction, and granting them the necessary licenses.

Four categories

According to what was published by the Salvation Government in July 2023, the Ministry of Local Administration has divided the areas it manages in northwestern Syria into four categories in terms of the living conditions of the displaced people within them, and the urban and commercial industrial movements they witness, achieving balance in the development between the areas.

It added that the four categories covered by the ministry’s decisions are not treated equally in terms of fees and legal treatment, but the situation of the category in which they reside and the conditions of its inhabitants are considered.

Two months ago, the Ministry of Local Administration in the Salvation Government announced urban plans for the cities and towns of Sarmada, Harem, Killi, Salqin, al-Atarib, and al-Hamama, in a new step for the residential and urban sector, and announced the opening of objections to the proposed regulatory plan.

These plans have sparked controversy among the public in the mentioned areas, especially those affected by the expansion, given the difficult economic conditions experienced by the region, at a time when some consider that there are priorities and needs more pressing to focus on.

The areas with the proposed urban plans contain dozens of camps for displaced and migrated people, whose tent has been their sole refuge for years, not protecting from the summer heat or winter cold, amidst deteriorating economic and living conditions.

4.5 million people live in northwestern Syria, 4.1 million of whom are in need of assistance, 3.3 million are suffering from food insecurity, 2.9 million of them are internally displaced, and two million live in camps, according to the United Nations, while local statistics talk about 5.5 to 6 million people.

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