Athens-based architect and Chicago native Katerina Sirouni helps owners decode Greece’s property laws. This article, part of an informative series, discusses Energy Performance Certificates (in Greek, Energeiako Pistopoiitiko), and why property owners should obtain them.
A Guide to Greece’s Property Laws
As a Greek American who has been educated and lives in Greece, and happens to be an architect, I am continually approached by Chicago area family and friends about how to make sense of the many changes in Greece’s property laws, codes, and taxes. As the owner and operator the architectural firm, KSirouni Architects, I help clients all over the world in design, management, and maintenance of properties, as well as navigating Greece’s new property laws. Here, will discuss what constitutes an illegal property, the penalties, and how to make your property legal. This information is critical, in that if your property isn’t compliant, you jeopardize your rights.
What are Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)?
Greece, as a member state of the European Union, is subject to certain obligations. One important obligation engages in Europe’s effort to reduce energy consumption, 40% of which alone applies to buildings. Working towards that direction, the EU introduced a Directive in 2002, requiring all countries to develop advanced energy policies. This brings us to this month’s topic, Energy Performance Certificates or EPCs (Energeiako Pistopoiitiko).
Under the guidelines of the EU, in 2008, the Greek Government implemented new energy efficiency laws regarding all buildings. This new legislation includes guidelines and requirements for new and radically renovated buildings, including a plan of certification for all built property. As a result, the Energy Performance Certificate was first introduced and enforced on July 9, 2011 upon rental agreements and a few months later, on January 9, 2012 the law was extended to apply to all property sold, as well as for all property conveyances in general.
Who needs an EPC?
The requirement of issuing an EPC, generally applies to all residential and commercial buildings exceeding 50.00 square meters and more in surface, with certain exemptions. All built property less than that is excluded, as are storage and agricultural-use buildings, minor or major industries, gas service stations, garages and landmark buildings.
Get a routine energy inspection
A routine energy inspection must be conducted by a certified energy inspector/engineer who visits the property for a general overview. They will inspect:
- wall insulation
- exterior shading
- the size and type of windows as well as the heating
- hot water and cooling system
This information combined with the total heated surface determine the amount of energy a building consumes which is then rated on a 9 grade scale from A+ to H, A+ being the highest and most efficient. Recommendations with cost-effective improvements for the lower rated buildings are noted on the issued certificate; owners do not necessarily have to act upon them.
Technical data and information of the inspected property, including building permits issued after March 14, 1983 and national land registry ownership codes (an upcoming topic) are entered in an electronic database from which certificates are officially issued. Each certificate is identified by a unique authentication code and is valid for ten years of issue-date. The cost varies and depends on the building’s surface area and type.
In cases when illegal/non-declared built space is inspected, legalization documents are required. This is why it is important for owners with property violations to take advantage of the grace period for compliance which expires in February 2016. However, owners can actually benefit up to 50% of the total penalty fine if that amount is invested in upgrading the property’s energy efficiency.
Financial incentives for energy efficiency
In light of the financial crisis, the Greek Government has also initiated the “Energy Efficiency at Household Buildings Program”, offering financial incentives for homeowners depending on the recipient’s economic status and the property’s location. Interventions include replacing outdated windows/doors, upgrading heating and hot water supply systems, installing shading systems and heat insulation on exterior walls, terraces and roofs.
Certificates will soon be mandatory
In the introductory article, I mentioned a “fast tracking” of many new property laws one of which involve rental agreements which as of this year are submitted online. Submitting an Energy Performance Certificate for the rented property however has become an option even though relevant legislation has not changed. Most owners as expected are taking advantage of this option and prefer not to comply with the requirement just to avoid the additional cost of issuing an EPC. Acknowledging this confusion, the government is currently looking into making adjustments so that filing EPCs, when required under law, is mandatory.
Why do it now?
While Energy Performance Certificates ratings may not have a significant effect on a building’s market value, a high-level rating will definitely make it more attractive. Additionally, the general awareness for eco-friendly buildings has created a demand in the market for new technology and updated materials that can reduce energy consumption significantly and efficiently. Green living has become more than a trend.
Owners of Property in Greece Have New Requirements and Challenges
This is but a brief overview of some of the new legal challenges that affect every single property owner today. In future articles, I will go into greater detail and help explain Greece’s property laws on a practical basis and how to work through them. These laws and changes may appear overwhelming, but with the right professional, they can be handled efficiently and inexpensively.
Questions? Need assistance in Greece? Email Katerina.
Other articles in this series: