Inventory of assets, municipalities leave thousands of public assets unregistered in the Cadastral Office

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  • After the new territorial division, thousands of public assets have not been registered with the Cadastral Office by the local government. The delay of the process has caused some of these properties to be “occupied” by private individuals, endangering their status. In this situation, the process has been postponed until December 2028, without any penalty for non-compliance with the law for 5 years by the local government.

    Author: Eliza Gjediku

    Kindergarten number 34 in Tirana, in Kombinat, is obliged to reject a series of requests from parents to register their children. This kindergarten also gathers all children of the area, known as Astiri and Yzberisht, as they do not have a public kindergarten.

    The Kindergarden No 34 is forced to operate on a reduced area, as more than 50% of its property is occupied by private parties. Moreover, the Municipality of Tirana has not even been able to inventory this property and private individuals have acted one step further, building on this property.

    “The property of the kindergarten no. 34 has 800 m 2 of land area, and from this, 412 m 2 of building, where a part of it is occupied by the private sector “, – it is said in the report of High State Audit, which raises the concern for lack of inventory of local government properties.

    Hundreds of public properties have been left with an unclear and unregistered status near the immovable property registration offices, following the 2015 territorial reform.

    The local government was given until 2019 to carry out the inventory of real estate, but the whole process was left in oblivion and was not completed. In the new law of 2020 “On the Completion of Transitional Property Processes in the Republic of Albania”, in its article 37 it was determined that local units had 18 months from the law approval  to fully update inventory properties.

    This deadline left at the disposal of the municipalities ended in November this year, while the registration of properties still seems very far away.

     

    Where Inventory Has Stalled

    Referring to the data received from the Cadastre, the first phase of the inventory, which deals with the listing of properties, which has a municipal unit, is completed throughout the territory. This phase envisages the inclusion in the inventory list of roads, lands, forests, schools, buildings, i.e. everything state-owned. It then passes for approval to the Prefecture, then goes to the Cadastre, where the forms are verified and after approval by the Cadastre (former ALUIZNI), goes to the Prime Minister and is approved through a Decision of the Council of Ministers.

    The second phase is about the transfer of properties, so it will transfer the properties to the central institutions and the municipality keeps only the properties that belong to it. The second list with the transfer of properties is approved by DCM.

    The third phase of the inventory is the approval of the final list with the DCM and the transfer of ownership of the properties that belong to the municipality.

    Finally, after approval by the Council of Ministers, municipalities register their properties in the Cadastre for a fee, but municipalities complain that the inventory process has stalled at the Cadastre, as “the payment to be made is too high.” goes up to 20 million ALL.

    “The main obstacle in the registration of state assets by the municipalities is the registration fee, which brings costs up to over 20 million ALL (for inventory properties), for the unstable budgets of the municipalities”, – says a report of the HSA, in which it specifies that the transfer of property “is not accompanied by financial assistance, through the inclusion of these funds in the unconditional fund or in specific funds that municipalities receive for certain functions .”

    Where are Tirana, Elbasan and Fier with this process?

    The municipalities of Tirana, Fier and Elbasan, which were reviewed by Investigative Network Albania in relation to the inventory of real estate, responded only after the intervention of the Commissioner for the Right to Information, but, even in this case, responses were truncated.

    The Cadastre explains to Investigative Network Albania that the inventory has been completed in 9 administrative units in Tirana, out of 14 administrative units in total. In the Municipality of Elbasan, out of 13 administrative units, the process has been completed for 4 of them, while in the Municipality of Fier, out of 10 units, the process has not been finished in Levan.

    Specifically, in Tirana it ended in the units of: Zall Herr, Zall Bastar, Petrela, Baldushk, Peza, Vaqarr, Farka, Krrabë and did not end in the units Dajt, Shëngjergj, Bërzhitë, Ndroq and Kashar.

    For the Municipality of Elbasan, the process has been completed for the units Gjergjan, Bradashesh, Papër, while the process has not been closed in the units Labinot-Fushë, Labinot-Mal, Gjinar, Shushicë, Funar, Shirgjan, Tregan, Gracen, Zavalinë. The process has been completed for the Municipality of Fier, except for the Levan unit.

    Sources from the Cadastre suggest that the preliminary inventory has been completed in all municipalities, but all inventories made mainly by the former communes will be reviewed, because they are without maps of cadastral items and will be adapted to the legal changes that have been made in property laws as well as with new maps.

    Practically, the process will be further extended, due to the lack of maps, which definitively define the exact boundaries of municipal properties. These inventories have been accepted and approved by the DCM, but will be reviewed, to be completed with the relevant maps.

    The Municipality of Tirana has under its administration about 13,182 assets, which have been transferred; 5,755 properties have been transferred to the ownership and use of the Municipality of Tirana and 7,424 properties, which are roads, public squares and various facilities. From these assets, owned by the Municipality of Tirana, the registration with the Cadastre of 911 assets has been completed. In this municipality, pursuant to law no. 20/2020, the full inventory has not been completed, as the inventory property lists are being updated.

    Despite the high number of assets in the inventory, the Municipality of Tirana prefers to pay rent for its offices to private individuals.

    The most flagrant case is that of the offices of the Municipal Unit no. 8, which for years was located on the third floor of the building known as “Zeri i Popullit”, but during 2019 was moved to a rented space in a building complex on Dibra Street .

    After a complaint to the Commissioner for the Right to Information, the Municipality of Tirana clarified that “the relocation was done due to lack of space and numerous complaints”, but did not answer the question how much was the rent that the municipality paid.

    The response of the Municipality of Tirana (in Albanian)

     

    The Municipality of Elbasan on the other hand refused to provide information on how many properties there are in the territory and how many have been inventoried, but it is enough with a vague answer.

    “The Municipality of Elbasan has 3 legal entities under administration and 8 subordinate entities, which are transferred in ownership or use by Decision of the Council of Ministers no. 416, dated 11.07.2007 ”, – says the Municipality of Elbasan.

    Whereas, the Municipality of Fier says that it uses only the properties approved by the Decision of the Municipal Council, but does not specify how many of them are correct.

    “There is an average level of property transfer depending on the Municipality of Fier, in accordance with legal changes. This level of transition comes as a result of various problems, such as inconsistencies with the document on the surface of properties, overlaps created over the years, inconsistencies of cadastral maps Municipality / ASHK, lack of indicative maps in ACA, lack of updates, etc. The Municipality of Fier responds regarding the inventory process.

    However, a report of the HSA specifies that the region of Fier has a total of 17,016 properties, of which 4,931 are inventoried. Of the 42 inventory lists, only 27 have been finally approved.

    There are a total of 38,680 properties in the Elbasan region and there are 50 inventory lists, of which only 20 have been approved; while in the district of Tirana there are 36,785 properties, with 29 inventory lists and only 21 have been approved.

    At the national level there are 373 administrative units and 369 inventory lists have been made, of which 265 preliminary lists have been approved and in the final only 170 final lists have been approved. In total throughout the country municipalities have to inventory and register in the Cadastre 328,096 properties.

    Table obtained from the audit of the HAS (in Albanian)

    Municipal Councils of the three municipalities in this investigation did not respond to a requests from INA MEDIA as to what had caused the delay in approving the real estate lists.

     

    Why did the municipalities not make the inventory?

    The municipalities claim that the financial burden, which they have to pay to the Cadastre for each property they inventory, is the impasse that is holding the final registration of properties hostage.

    The Municipality of Elbasan, which is far behind in this process, blames the Cadastre fees for the non-progress of the inventory.

    “Property registration is done according to priorities for reasons of payments, which we must perform at the IPRO for registration procedures, which weigh on the budget of this municipality,” – said in the official response of the Municipality of Elbasan.

    Dhurata Cupi, a local government expert, says the process has been deliberately dragged out by the government, leaving room for abuse.

    “The registration of immovable property owned by local government units has been suspended and, in my judgment, due to the government’s intention to use local government assets in the service of the central government, to give them concessions, for to give them with sub-contracts”, – alludes Dhurata Çupi.

    “The facts show that all over Albania there are properties used by the government with various forms of concessions, PPP, “Albania, 1 euro” and the municipalities have left them without properties, so that they can manage and capitalize them”, she says .

    The lack of this ownership certificate does not allow the local government to use these properties to the extent of 100% and to administer the revenues.

    Aida Cacaj, local government expert at the Association of Municipalities, says that the process of inventory of state property by municipalities should be seen as inseparable from the process of registration of these properties.

    “Almost all municipalities in the country have properties transferred according to the relevant DCMs, unregistered. Municipalities lack documentation and human resources, mainly surveyors, for the preparation of this documentation. The still unresolved issue is the ambiguity in the administrative boundaries between the municipalities”, – she explains .

    “Municipalities are treated by the IPRO in the same way as private entities, facing bureaucracy and administrative burdens. The claim of the municipalities that some assets, mainly buildings, have been transferred to them should not be mentioned, without calculating their depreciation over the years. In this way, the real value of the property is much lower, compared to what results in the accompanying documentation”, – she says for Investigative Network Albania .

    Law no. 8743/2001 “On state immovable properties”, determines the legal regime of the types of state immovable properties and the responsibilities for their administration. According to Article 6 of this law, all state immovable properties must be registered in the Immovable Property Register, following the procedures provided by the special law on registration of immovable property.

    “No later than 90 days from the entry into force of this law, the Council of Ministers should approve legal acts on procedures through which property rights would be inventoried. The Council of Ministers determined which would be the body responsible for the administration of each immovable property unit, while for the transfer of property in favor of local government units, the law determined that this process would be regulated by another, special law. , – analyzes the lawyer, Julian Zguro, the legal basis.

    At the same time, Gëzim Boçari, an expert on property issues, sees the problem related to the law itself.

    “The process of inventory of real estate is not closed, as the legislation and methodology that is being used are contradictory and in violation of constitutional obligations. This is a continuation of the anarchy of property titles, which began in 1991. The property was divided according to cadastral items and was not considered to be returned to the rightful owner, regardless of the cadastral item, and according to the documents of origin. – says Boçari for INA .

    He predicts that this process will be postponed indefinitely, due to the financial inability of municipalities to pay for property registration.

    “Municipalities have absolutely no financial capacity to close the inventory and, if attempted, it will be an extension of deadlines and deepening illegality to present the situation without a solution ,” said Boçari.

     

    The law has not been implemented intentionally

    The leased properties are part of the properties that have completed the inventory and registration process in the Cadastre, and that are under the ownership of the municipality.

    Each property, which is rented in the Municipality of Fier, when it is an urban area, according to the municipal decision number 95, dated 02.12.2020, “On the Structure and level of Local Taxes and Tariffs of 2021”, is paid 400 ALL / m 2 / months and for Administrative Units, 100 ALL / m 2 / month.

    The money collected, the municipality says is used for the maintenance of the rented buildings themselves.

    “The amount of income from the lease of facilities (buildings), rent is in the amount of 5,232,166 ALL for 2020 until October 2021. They are used for the maintenance of the buildings themselves, as well as for other services“, – says the Municipality of Fier, without specifying more

    While the Municipality of Elbasan, without referring to the decision number and the date of its approval, says that the answers for rents are on the official website of the municipality, but practically without a decision number it is almost impossible to find prices per square meter, even this municipality does not detail that where he uses the funds he collects from the lease of state property.

    “Revenues collected from the use of these facilities are poured into the municipal budget, which is certainly used to make investments in various fields, ” – answers the Municipality of Elbasan.

    Regarding the Municipality of Tirana, during 2020 it collected 33,692,062 ALL from the rental of properties, while until September of this year it had collected 35,816,641 ALL. Meanwhile, even this municipality does not explain what this revenue is used for.

    Amount of revenue collected from public property rentals in the Municipalities of Tirana, Elbasan and Fier

    Economics expert Pano Soko says the reasons for the delay in implementing the law have to do with interests related to municipal properties.

    “This is one of the cases where, due to the great interests behind state property, the government does not give them to municipalities, but continues to administer them themselves, under the pretext of bureaucratic delays,” he said.

    While Boçari goes even further, when he says that unregistered properties have been used for illegal activities, even, according to him, in Vlora it was built without permission on properties that were not inventoried.

    “Properties not registered by the municipalities during the time they are being held hostage, have been misused and are the basis used for illegal activities, renting them out, allowing invasions and illegal constructions by third parties. Even in cases when the district Territory Regulation Committee has issued a construction permit, those permits are in flagrant violation of the law on Urban Planning and legal requirements for the issuance of construction permits,” said Boçari.

    The Military House in the Municipality of Vlora is one of the largest properties of this municipality. With an area of 1,673 m2 of land, 795 m2  of this building have been occupied by the private sector and the municipality of the coastal city has not been able to inventory it. Abandoned and left to the mercy of fate, there are currently several families living there, mainly of the Roma and Egyptian communities.

    Experts believe that, in conditions when the law obliges the registration of any type of contract, non-inventory of public assets is intentional negligence.

    “It is in fact absurd, when at the same time private entities, not only businesses, but also individuals, are forced to register any kind of contract between them on real estate, while state bodies manage to evade the law”, – concludes Cacaj for INA .

    The whole situation is a product of abuse of power and competencies. In a normal state, those responsible for this situation would be held accountable before the law ,” Pano Soko argued.

     

    The State Audit criticizes the municipalities

    A report by the High State Audit Office has raised concerns about the non-inventory of public property and has identified numerous cases in some municipalities where they have been occupied by private individuals.

    According to HSA, non-registration of properties, among others, has given a negative impact on the process of legalization and administration of state property.

    First, the “informality” of state property, as a result of not specifying their legal status, has led to the increase of informal buildings or their occupation, for depreciated or dilapidated buildings, on which informal buildings have been built. . Secondly, in hindering the legalization process in the absence of confirmation by state bodies “, – it is said in the report of HSA.

    As a result of this stalemate created by the initial inventory, approval by DCM and registration in the Cadastre, state property has been alienated and illegally privatized by private entities.

    Thousands of square meters have been occupied by the private sector in Tirana alone, due to the non-functioning of laws, as they have not been implemented.

    The same violation has occurred not only in the municipalities considered in this article, but also in other municipalities of the country.

    “The Kindergarden of the Region no. 5 in the Municipality of Vlora, with an area of 1000 m 2 of land, and of these 152 m2, which is forcibly occupied by the private sector.

    In the Municipality of Shkodra, the property “Observatory Building”, with an area of 3032.25 m2 , and of these 132.25 m is building.

    The dormitory of the Veterinary School in the Municipality of Shkodra, with an area of 742 m 2 of land, and out of these 742 m2 of buildings, it is forcibly occupied “, – says the HSA.

    The same fate befell the property of the shooting range in Tufina. 54% of the property of the training range, of the Administrative Unit in Dajt, is occupied by the private sector. Here, too, the lack of inventory and registration of 83.5 hectares of shooting range has led to 45 hectares being occupied by private individuals who have built their homes.

    This area until the end of November 2021 had blocked the legalization process, but was reopened after the cooperation between the State Cadastre Agency and the Ministry of Defense, where this occupied area was transferred to state ownership, thus giving the green light for the benefit of the illegal buildings built upon this plot of land.