Demolition of illegal constructions: Will Lviv be an example for other cities

16-05-2019

News about the demolition of illegal constructions initiated in Lviv have given rise to many disputes. The demolition of illegal Lviv “buildings” is the first serious precedent in Ukraine. The local authorities in Kyiv, which is not only a leader in construction, but also a leader in illegal construction, should take a closer look at this case.

In April, a five-storey building on Lychakivska Street was demolished in Lviv. It was the first illegal building not only allowed to be demolished by court, but it was really demolished.

On May 6, two floors of illegal building were demolished on 67b, Chornovol Avenue in Lviv. In 2004, the Lviv city administration issued a permit to build a temporary pavilion on this street. Instead, a real estate developer built a two-storey building. And it got him into trouble – the court decided to demolish this building. This was the second case of lawful demolition works.

Will the Lviv experience be an example?

How did they demolish illegal constructions in Lviv? The lawsuits to obtain a permit for these demolition works lasted more than 2 years. And according to the Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovy, in general, court proceedings concerning this facility have lasted since 2007.

As explained by Olena Shuliak, the Construction sector head at the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO), in a conversation with the 24 TV Channel, there should be the political will of local authorities along with a perfect match of grounds: a facility was built on a land plot allocated for the individual dwelling maintenance, without the design documentation development and properly produced input data, and the works were carried out without proper examination and without obtaining a permit. In addition, it was possible to determine who was a direct building owner to claim compensation for demolition costs.

And, perhaps, the main thing is that there was no apartment sold in the building and there were no problems with investors. This is a perfect combination of circumstances that created the precedent. Olena Shuliak says that it is unlikely to have the same situation again.

Illegal buildings in Kyiv

As explained by Olena Shuliak, according to rough estimates, there are more than 70 multi-apartment residential buildings built illegally (that is, have problems with construction registration) in Kyiv. In addition, there are more than 200 “dead” unfinished construction projects.

At the end of December 2014, the Kyiv mayor Volodymyr Klytschko announced the beginning of a hard-line campaign to combat illegal constructions. But this campaign has come in nowhere in 4.5 years: the number of illegal construction projects is only increasing against the background of populist statements made by local authorities.

“For example, their number increased from 67 to 71 only during the first half of 2018. It is fair to say that nevertheless there were few cases of demolition works. One could also think of the demolition of 2 floors of the building on Desyatynnaya street in 2015 and the ‘cosmetic’ demolition of the Mosayka Residential Complex on Strategichne highway in 2016. That is, sometimes something happens. But it doesn’t happen in a consistent manner. Here, we should mention a “monster house” on Podil that has already become a symbol of impunity and irresponsibility,” Olena Shuliak specified.

Is there any liability established?

As the expert says, theoretically, the current legislation provides for the possibility of demolishing or dismantling illegal buildings. But there are no practical tools. The following aspects are among the main obstacles hindering the civilized coexistence of the interests of investors, developers, authorities and communities in land development:

– problems of the Ukrainian judicial system;

– lack of money for implementation of decisions on the demolition of illegal constructions;

– inefficiency of state approaches to address problems related to construction arrangements.

What is behind illegal buildings?

According to analysts, the Ukrainian system of construction arrangements has systemic flaws at all stages. “The compliance with all requirements and all procedures creates more risks for businesses than ignoring legal requirements. This is a systemic paradox of the Ukrainian state,” Olena Shuliak explained.

According to the expert, the procedure for land allocation lasts for at least 8.5 months and does not guarantee the applicant that they will get this land plot for construction purposes. The selected land plot can be quickly allocated for another person (often someone in a position of power) and then resold to the applicant at double/triple price. And during all of these 8.5 months of useless waiting, the business owner suffers losses due to the idle period. Therefore, often they start construction works on a land plot, which is not registered yet.

Obtaining a construction permit is a separate issue. In spite of the DABI’s statements on “transparency”, the process of obtaining a permit is a procedure with very high corruption risks: you may be denied even because of one grammatical mistake. At the same time, as market participants say, you can easily obtain even a backdated permit for a bribe. Therefore, it is less risky for real estate developers to start construction works without any permit and then “make an arrangement”. The procedure encourages them to do this.

“Quite often, unscrupulous developers who implement illegal projects begin to sell apartments before obtaining necessary permits. And then they use future owners of apartments as a kind of shield to protect or as a ram to open a way for their interests. In such a way, authorities are forced into a corner to deal not with illegal developers, but with legitimate investors,” Olena Shuliak said.

According to the expert, to bring the situation into conformity with civilized standards, it is necessary to create conditions where it will be beneficial and easy for business owners to work lawfully. It is necessary to change systemic approaches that destroy the interest of developers to work in the legal field. The current system does not guarantee reduced risks for business owners in case of compliance with the law, but on the contrary, working illegally and making arrangements with government officials are less risky. If we do this, we won’t accumulate problematic constructions in our cities. And there will be opportunities to address the problems of illegal construction step by step.

Source: Channel 24

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