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One shouldn't buy an apartment with illegal replanning
Apartment replanning is a popular solution in Ukraine. The owners resort to it in order to get another separate room or to rationally use the space—to add an extra area of the corridor or loggia to the room.
What is replanning
Often in everyday life, the concept of "redevelopment" is understood as any repair work in an apartment, more significant than just wallpapering. However, in reality, this is not entirely true.
Since there is no legislative definition of what a replanning is, one should proceed from the provisions of the Rules of Using Residential Buildings and dormitories, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of October 8, 1992 No. 572 (as amended on January 24, 2006, No. 45), Serhii Dakhnovskyi, partner of the law firm JN Legal, explained to .
According to these provisions, the elements of redevelopment of the residential premises replanning include: moving and dismantling partitions, moving and placing doorways, placing and remodelling ante-rooms, adding balconies at the level of the first floors of multi-storey buildings," the lawyer noted.
It is worth distinguishing between replanning and remodelling, which, according to these rules, means:
- placing of individual heating and other engineering equipment in individual residential buildings and flats of apartment buildings;
- moving of heating, plumbing, and gas appliances;
- placing and remodelling of toilets, bathrooms, and ventilation ducts.
How to validate replanning, what are the pitfalls
To date, the legislation is quite loyal to replanning, and control over such repair work is carried out only in cases that can lead to interference in the interests of other people (neighbors) or to the house destruction.
Replanning needs to be validated only when you plan to:
- make changes (make holes, cuts) in the load-bearing walls of the house;
- make changes in that part of the engineering systems in the house (water supply, sewerage, electricity, heating, and ventilation) through which utilities run to neighbors too.
"If you decide to simply change existing windows or doors in your apartment, make a passage or a niche in a non-load-bearing wall, change radiators, internal wiring or move switches, make a built-in cabinet, etc., such work can be carried out without obtaining any permits for their implementation (they are considered legal, and they do not need to be additionally validated)," Oleksandr Kodolov, head of the Land Law and Real Estate practice at Assyria JSC explains.
However, according to the lawyer, if your apartment is located in a building classified as a cultural heritage site, all of the above works will still have to be validated.
Validating the replannings that are under the state control is also significantly simplified today and is carried out as the reconstruction (and not replanning) legalization.
The legalization procedure is as follows:
- Draft a reconstruction project and draw up documents for author's and technical supervision (to do this you need to contact a design organization that has the appropriate licenses and employees).
- Submit a notice of the beginning of the reconstruction work (you can do this electronically through the website Diia or in hard copy through the Administrative Service Centres).
- Perform reconstruction work (according to the project).
- Prepare a new технический паспорт (from a certified engineer).
- Register the declaration of commissioning (you can do this electronically through the website Diia or in hard copy through the Administrative Service Centres).
- Register your ownership of the reconstructed apartment in the State Register of Property Rights.
In some cases, the decision of the house co-owners may be required (in the case of adding an attic or basement to the apartment, since these premises are the joint property of all house co-owners). Legalisation of this kind of replanning will be much more difficult to implement.
What types of replanning are problematic or impossible to validate
Problems can arise with replannings that are forbidden to be carried out, Kodolov explains. These include:
- placing of wet points (toilets and bathrooms) above the neighbors’ kitchens or living rooms;
- removing of the load-bearing wall;
- moving or ceiling of risers of whole-building communications (sewage and chimney);
- combining a living room with a kitchen that has gas equipment (water heater, stove, oven, boiler).
"Such replannings are impossible to validate, and if they become known, an owner can be forced to do everything correctly in accordance with building codes through the court, to compensate for the damage (if it was caused to someone by such violations) and to be brought to administrative responsibility (fine)," the lawyer explains.
Difficulties in buying and selling an apartment with replanning
Unlegalized apartment replanning can become a serious obstacle to its sale, since such a transaction requires a document (passport) of the apartment technical inventory, the data of which correspond to its actual state and information in the State Register of Property Rights, Dakhnovsky warns.
In addition, if it is planned to buy an apartment for credit money, then we can safely say that the bank in this case will refuse to grant a credit. The buyers themselves, assuming the risk of acquiring an apartment with illegal replanning, will sooner or later face the fact of the need to legalize it with all the associated costs.
"And this is not to mention the fact that the replanning carried out in violation of the law and building codes may violate the integrity and structural stability of the house and, accordingly, pose a threat to the life and health of its residents, as well as cause quite legitimate claims of neighbors," Dakhnovsky explained to .
If the actual parameters of the real estate for sale do not correspond to those specified in the documents, and the price of the object is very attractive, then before buying, you should contact a specialist (lawyer, designer, technical inventory specialist, etc.) who will be able to study the documents and the property and provide the buyer conclusion on the possibility of legalizing the rights to a property according to its actual parameters.
"A situation may arise when the legalization process will either require too much time and money, or it will be impossible at all due to the illegality of the replanning made by the previous owner," Ivan Sokyra, head of the Real Estate and Construction Practice at law company De Jure, emphasizes.
If a situation arises when the buyer agrees to purchase the property, despite the absence of a legalized replanning, it is recommended to first carry out all the procedures for its legalization to the previous owner, albeit at the expense of the buyer, and then carry out the apartment sale and purchase, he advises.
According to the lawyer, in order to obtain guarantees from the seller that they will not abandon the transaction after validating the replanning, a preliminary sales contract should be drawn up with a description of the mutual obligations of the parties with a clear distribution of costs.