The American School of Classical Studies at Athens

Acquisition of property for excavation

Acquisition of property for excavation

Any privately owned land that is intended for excavation must first be purchased or expropriated and transferred to the Greek State. Land acquisition for excavation can be a very time consuming and expensive process that must begin before an excavation permit is requested.

After discussion with and approval of the local Ephoreia for the project, and prior to application for an excavation permit, the director(s) should ascertain the legal disposition and condition of ownership of the land on which the proposed excavation is to take place.

The disposition of the property on which one proposes to excavate must be determined prior to application for a permit from the ASCSA.  If the land is privately owned, it is necessary to begin the process of identifying owners and plots prior to application so that this process does not delay the proposed work, if a permit should be granted.

Ownership of land can often be determined by making enquiries of the local residents and by checking the land registry located in every Municipality, where one may obtain a print out with lot numbers associated with the declaration of property. It is strongly advisable to consult with a local notary (symvolaiographos) who will assist in this work. Some property may not be declared at the time of enquiry, but must be declared for purchase.

If the land is privately owned, the director should indicate that a plan for land acquisition and transference to the Greek government—purchase or expropriation or both—has been agreed upon with the local Ephoreia and that progress has been made to contact landowners.

Land acquisition can take years to complete and includes several stages: identifying the owners and securing their agreement to sell the property; surveying the property by a certified civil engineer (who makes the legally required map of the property) and locating parcels of land (for which the director must pay); making sure that the property has been formally and legally declared by owners to the Greek government and revenue service; agreeing on a price per stremma; and hiring an attorney or notary to draft and execute the contract of sale and deed transfer and deposition.

It is important to note that the Ministry cannot buy land that is not legally declared.  So, when the contract is drawn up, it is necessary to make sure that each owner has legal title and tax declaration. Although most people do now because all plots are GIS linked and encoded, you may encounter owners who have not yet declared the land.

In order to acquire land, the purchaser needs a certified topographic map of the site with the field boundaries and areas or plots/parcels (ktemata) marked and then a cadastral list (Ktematologikos Pinakas Idioktesion), listing the owner(s) and the size of the plots; it may also include the land prices. This map must be drawn for the contract of sale to be approved, signed, and filed.  Such maps are made by registered civil engineers; your local notary can recommend one.

An Agorapolesia Agrotikon Akineton is the formal contract of sale, written by a notary, signed by all the land owners, the Ministry, and the ASCSA Director, and then filed in the land registry.

The project director is responsible for the fees associated with surveying the plots to be purchased (or expropriated) and for the cost of the attorney and notary.

Land can vary in price dramatically, whether purchased outright or expropriated, and it is important that directors applying for a permit to excavate be able to demonstrate that they have the funds in hand for the acquisition.

The process for expropriation (anagkastiki apallotriosi) of land is somewhat different than outright purchase and in this case a tax-office assessed objective value (antikeimeniki axia) will be the basis for a court decision, which may also take into account the commercial value of the land, based on recent sales of adjacent or nearby parcels. The expropriation requires a judicial procedure and can lasts 5 years or longer depending on the circumstances. The procedure is undertaken by the Greek State – but paid for by the excavation director through the ASCSA – and constitutes the ultimate solution, if the owners of the land do not wish to sell the property or do not agree with the selling price. The court decides on the price of the land, which automatically comes to the ownership of the Greek State when the price decided by the court to the landowners has been paid.